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SpaceShip Two, XCOR Lynx Prepare For Powered Flights

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the hope-it-all-goes-to-plan dept.

Space 77

RocketAcademy writes "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two is in the final stages of preparation for powered flight. The suborbital spacecraft, built by Scaled Composites, has successfully completed airspeed, angle-of-attack, center-of-gravity, and structural tests during unpowered glide flights. It is now on track for powered glide flights by the end of this year. Meanwhile, in the hangar next door, XCOR Aerospace continues to work on the Lynx spacecraft, expected to begin powered flight tests early next year. Some exclusive photos provide a sneak peak at things to come." Also to watch for in the world of private space launches, next month (possibly as early as the 8th), SpaceX has another launch scheduled to reach the ISS.

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"powered glide flights" (4, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 2 years ago | (#41403955)

<facepalm>

Re:"powered glide flights" (1)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | about 2 years ago | (#41404065)

I don't see that in the summary. Perhaps it's been edited already?

Re:"powered glide flights" (2)

uigrad_2000 (398500) | about 2 years ago | (#41404101)

Nevermind... it does say that. Clearly the word "glide" in that sentence should have been omitted.

Re:"powered glide flights" (2)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41404093)

Yeah, that was a typo, but technically it is correct. The powered segment of the flight will be powered by a glide back to landing.

Re:"powered glide flights" (4, Informative)

Moofie (22272) | about 2 years ago | (#41404127)

"The powered segment of the flight will be powered by a glide..."

Surely you meant "The powered segment of the flight will be followed by a glide..."

Re:"powered glide flights" (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41404211)

Yes. I'm having bad luck with keyboards today.

Re:"powered glide flights" (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 2 years ago | (#41404133)

It just struck me as being like an "underwater flotation test".

Re:"powered glide flights" (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#41406345)

And both can be technically accurate - a powered glide would seem to describe a flight plan in which the craft is basically in a glide but the engines are on standby to provide any minor adjustments or emergency thrust necessary.

An "underwater flotation test" would likely be termed a "buoyancy test" in most circumstances, but the former might be more informative if you're discussing a craft intended to float on the "surface" of a sharp density gradient such as between two non-mixing thermal masses or an underwater oil spill or something.

Re:"powered glide flights" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41404895)

I can't stand your syntactically invalid XML
<facepalm />
(I can't recall if the space is required or not, but I always add it for readability if no other reason.)

Re:"powered glide flights" (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 2 years ago | (#41404951)

<headdesk count=3 />

Re:"powered glide flights" (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about 2 years ago | (#41407573)

Actually: <headdesk count="3" />

(Unless you were actually just trying to goad the AC.)

Re:"powered glide flights" (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 2 years ago | (#41405177)

to compliment their earlier unpowered glide flights

Re:"powered glide flights" (2)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about 2 years ago | (#41405253)

to compliment their earlier unpowered glide flights

Wow, that was a REALLY GREAT unpowered glide flight!!

Who are these peole again? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41404135)

I can't keep track of the billioniare wannabes - granted, it's nice to see them burn through some of their own cash for their dreams. Then again, in the end, it's gonna be us working class folks who will take it on the chin. That's how it works: working class folks do the work and use their imagincation - capital takes the credit and gets the returns.

I've resided to that fact.

Fuck you Elon! Fucking homo name.

Re:Who are these peole again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41404827)

I've resided to that fact.

Charlie, is that you?

"I'll just regress, because I feel I've made myself perfectly redundant."

Privatization Working? (1)

gpronger (1142181) | about 2 years ago | (#41404199)

To me the question is this indicative od the privatization of orbital flight successful. We seem to have a number of firms inline for either manned or unmanned systems. Would we be better served via the public sector?

Re:Privatization Working? (2, Informative)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 2 years ago | (#41404233)

Have you been paying attention the last 20 years? Shit, the Republicans in Congress are trying to cut funding for weather satellites.

Re:Privatization Working? (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#41404983)

Last I looked, Republicans were pushing the Senate Launch System while Democrats were pushing for NASA to buy private sector launch services to ISS. Numerous people have commented on what an absurd reversal that is.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41404269)

Given the total amount of money spent on private spaceflight vs the amount of tax dollars poured into public spaceflight. I have to say the private guys are doing pretty good. Give them time and money and they will be better than the public sector.

Re:Privatization Working? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41404311)

This has always killed me. Why should I have to spend my fucking tax dollars on a private corporation through subsidies? Why the fuck are companies allowed to take public funds to build private profit? For a prime example - look at the dismantling of education via charter schools.

to control costs (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#41404513)

Why the fuck are companies allowed to take public funds to build private profit?

Because people who have a stake in what they're building have an incentive to do it right. For example, compare the cost a Falcon 9 launch to an Atlas V. Both were developed and built with public funds (admittedly, only a portion of Falcon 9 was publicly funded) and have similar capabilities, yet Falcon 9 costs 1/3 as much to build and launch. With no profit motive, ULA has no reason to look for ways to control costs with the Atlas 5. In fact, the more ULA spends, the more they make.

Re:to control costs (3, Insightful)

Higgs Boozin (2492852) | about 2 years ago | (#41404903)

Interesting comparison considering the RD-180 engines under the Atlas V were also publicly funded (paid in rubles, not dollars) and were already fully developed by the time they were chosen for the Atlas. One wonders why the whole rocket ends up being so expensive. Russians make great engines at bargain basement prices...maybe we should have had them build the whole rocket.

Re:to control costs (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#41405471)

The RD-180 engines have been driving up the costs lately. They've been getting more expensive in order to compensate for lower volume.

Re:to control costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41407287)

yet Falcon 9 costs 1/3 as much to build and launc

I'm calling you out buddy. Citation needed.

Your "1/3" factor is tantamount to claiming BMW can build a car for 1/3 the cost of Mercedes Benz.

Given that SpaceX uses the same subcontractors like United Technologies, Raytheon, and Honeywell as Lockheed or Boeing. The "1/3" factor implies these major subcontractors contributes to well less than "1/3" of the final design and manufacture cost of the rocket and contemporaneously SpaceX is responsible for much more than 2/3 of the final rocket build process.
I don't buy that SpaceX Kool-Aid for a second.

Re:to control costs (3, Informative)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#41407423)

SpaceX quotes their launch price for the Falcon 9 at $54 Million [spacex.com] . All the sources I can find for the Atlas V put the launch cost at $138 Million [astronautix.com] . Though I couldn't find a price listed on their website [ulalaunch.com] , which is really understandable if you think about it.

Re:to control costs (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#41407457)

You are wrong about the subcontractors. Space X [wikipedia.org] makes relatively little use of subcontractors compared to other aerospace companies.

In order to control quality and costs, SpaceX designs, tests and fabricates the majority of its components in-house, including the Merlin, Kestrel, and Draco rocket engines used on the Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft.

Besides, would you tell me that no-one could build a car for 1/3 the amount of a Mercedes Benz [mbusa.com] ? The cheapest car they make is $35,350!

Re:to control costs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41407667)

spacex.com is not a reputable third party authority. Especially given it's teslamotors.com incarnation is full of false claims.

SpaceX simply cannot be designing and manufacturing >2/3 the rocket.
The engine for instance, do they have a casting and forging facility to build the fuel pumps and valves? Do they build their own integrated circuits that goes into the control computers? Do they build their own sensors and servos from a delivery of beach sand and metal ingots?
All these components come from subcontractors.

Look at it this way. If BMW sells its M5 sedan for $30k, while Mercedes sells the AMG E63 for $90k, do you think Mercedes will sell a single solitary E63?
Now II don't see Lockheed, Boeing, Arianespace exiting the launch business do you?

Re:to control costs (3, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#41407873)

The engine for instance, do they have a casting and forging facility to build the fuel pumps and valves? Do they build their own integrated circuits that goes into the control computers? Do they build their own sensors and servos from a delivery of beach sand and metal ingots? All these components come from subcontractors.

No, they don't. Those parts are purchased from vendors the same way you or I might purchase a valve or some screws from a hardware store.

Space X buys what they can "off the shelf". They make whatever else they can, and the subcontract out the rest. If you can't trust them about their business model, who can you trust?! You're basically speculating about how things must be with no guiding principle other than "their rockets must be more expensive than they claim."

Now II don't see Lockheed, Boeing, Arianespace exiting the launch business do you?

SpaceX has been winning contracts left and right. Of course, they've only ever launched 3 Falcon 9 rockets, and their capacity is still increasing to meet demand, so if you need something launched in the next few years you can't use SpaceX (they're all booked up). But in the future, if SpaceX is able to ramp up production and get a reasonable success rate with their rockets they most certainly will put all the other launchers out of business.

Re:to control costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41413141)

You're basically speculating

Damn right I'm speculating.
Unlike some people, I don't feel compelled to parrot spacex.com

But in the future, if SpaceX is able to ramp up production and get a reasonable success rate with their rockets they most certainly will put all the other launchers out of business.

Somebody need to get Lockheed & NASA to go through their spam folder to find the SpaceX memo, because they are obviously misguided in developing Orion/SLS when SpaceX is going to kick their ass.

BTW, I'm picking up my $40k Corvette ZR1 this weekend. Not waiting for the $120k SRT Viper (pffft, ripoff).

Re:to control costs (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about a year ago | (#41414243)

Unlike some people, I don't feel compelled to parrot spacex.com

. . .Or look up any information of any kind. . .ever. You only seem compelled to pull information directly out of your ass. It doesn't mean you're wrong, but it certainly doesn't give you good odds on being right. This is an ad-homonym attack at best.

Somebody need to get Lockheed & NASA to go through their spam folder to find the SpaceX memo, because they are obviously misguided in developing Orion/SLS when SpaceX is going to kick their ass.

I'd assume they know that already. That's why congress had to write a law [wikipedia.org] forcing them to develop SLS.

BTW, I'm picking up my $40k Corvette ZR1 this weekend. Not waiting for the $120k SRT Viper (pffft, ripoff).

Sure, because it's literally impossible to make a car for much less than $120,000. I get it. No one makes a decent car you can buy for $54,000. You can only buy cars for $138,000. Because that's just how it is and you don't need any proof to the contrary. You just "know" because you're not just a mindless automaton who needs to do "research" or look up "facts" and "figures." You go from your gut.

Re:to control costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41415767)

You only seem compelled to pull information directly out of your ass

You seem pretty happy to pull your facts out of Elon Musk's ass, so I'm not sure what you're so worked up about.

I'd assume they know that already. That's why congress had to write a law [wikipedia.org] forcing them to develop SLS

So your contention is that we got a bunch of fucktards in congress appropriating funds willy nilly to whomever lobby for a handout without any oversight or competitive tender?
This might be the first thing you posted that make some sense.

Glancing at your gibberish gobbledygook. I'm guessing you're not a car guy.
So ummm enjoy your 89 Grand Caravan with wood grain body decals.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

IrquiM (471313) | about 2 years ago | (#41404583)

Sorry, but do you know how stupid your comment is? If this wasn't possible, the government wouldn't be able to buy any goods or services from private companies. Not even a police car.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41406319)

The analogous practice is: government pays to have police car designed, pays for plant to be built, then pays full price for each police car. Meanwhile, private contractor gets to sell additional police cars as it sees fit using the design and assembly line built by taxpayer dollars.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41406617)

What government paid to have SpaceShip Two and Lynx designed? What government paid for Scaled and XCOR's plants? What's that? You don't know? You're just making this up? On the other hand, the Federal government invested heavily in General Motors and Chrysler, which build police cars -- you do know that, don't you?

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41406655)

What government paid to have SpaceShip Two and Lynx designed? What government paid for Scaled and XCOR's plants?

None as far as I know, and I have no objection to them. I was just commenting on the more general situation asked about.

On the other hand, the Federal government invested heavily in General Motors and Chrysler, which build police cars -- you do know that, don't you?

Yes, I am aware of the GM/Chrysler situation. That's fairly apparent if you read my comment carefully.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41407131)

What "general situation" is that?

Oh, I see -- the general statement that companies shouldn't be allowed to take public funds and make a profit.

Sorry, but that's inane. Do you think government employees don't earn an income (i.e., profit) off public funds? Just because they say it's not for profit doesn't mean no one's making money off it. If the government does anything, someone is going to make a profit off it, whether it's Sergeant Joe Friday or the Friday Security Corp.

Your "analogy" is actually pretty close to the way Boeing builds F-15s and Lockheed is building the Orion capsule, but it has nothing to do with Virgin Galactic and XCOR. In order to be an analogy, it has to be analogous.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41407199)

How about the very one you pointed out w/ GM?

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41407481)

Non sequitur. GM is not building Space Two or Lynx. So, your complaints are not relevant to the subject of this thread.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41407679)

You know how sometimes a fighter pilot will get so fixated on a target that he doesn't notice he's flying into terrain? You're there. Pull up!

I'm not talking about the spacecraft here.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

osmifra (2033466) | about 2 years ago | (#41408931)

>None as far as I know, and I have no objection to them. I was just commenting on the more general situation asked about. No. Actually you said it would be an analogous situation. >The analogous practice(...) So yeah... You were making things up. Chrysler and GM are monster mainly due to government deals and cost 5X more. SpaceX develops a rocket shows it can fly successfully and then gets a deal with NASA for a fraction of the cost that would have gone to Russia otherwise. Meanwhile in crazy america that says anything the government does without involving private companies is socialism, calls this privatization wrong and calls for a public space program?!?!?!? Up is down left is right logic if you ask me...

Re:Privatization Working? (5, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 years ago | (#41404693)

Subsidy does not mean what you think it means. Protip: government agency buying desktops from Dell is not a subsidy. Even though Dell is "building private profit" with your tax dollars.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#41412865)

In fairness, NASA is subsidizing the R&D of at least a part of the cost of these rockets through various programs.

The big difference here is that NASA has sort of a philosophy with these programs that once the industry is up and going, where there are plenty of competitors who can build rockets delivering supplies and passengers into orbit, that there will be plenty of other customers who will take advantage of these services and that these private companies will be able to offer services or products just like Dell Computer can offer their equipment and services to government agencies (which they can and do).

There are many in Congress who are justifiably very skeptical of this concept, some who are so skeptical that they are seeking to kill these development programs as well. There are also many members of congress who simply are clueless about economics in general and don't understand what is going on either... along with many of their constituents.

One of the problems here is that NASA had 30 years to get an alternative to the Space Shuttle built. In spite of dozens of efforts to get that accomplished using a traditional government procurement contract, NASA has had one failure after another over the years and can't seem to get the job done. Even the latest effort, the SLS program (affectionately called the "Senate Launch System" due to its engineering taking place in the upper house of the United States Congress and enacted as a matter of law) seems destined to utter failure. I would dare say hundreds of billions of dollars have been dumped down a rat hole of constant failure, and what I don't understand is why they expect any different results? If it was just one program that failed, I could understand, but we are talking dozens of different programs that have tried and been dumped over the years.

This is something a bit different as a result. NASA really needs to get cargo and crew into orbit, and would rather not be relying 100% on the Russians to get the job done. That the Soyuz may still be used in the future and that American astronauts may still be training in Star City for future missions is something I think is still useful, but it shouldn't be the only game in town.

It is also useful to note that before SpaceX got into the game, 90%+ of all commercial spaceflight payloads were going to other countries, pretty much split evenly between Roskosmos (Russia) and Arianespace (European Union... well mostly), although China and India did snag up more than a few launches of their own. A few other companies were in the game (like SeaLaunch... a joint partnership between Boeing and RKK Energia... the Russian company who makes the Soyuz spacecraft too). Basically the American launcher companies had priced themselves completely out of the market, where the only people using these American launchers was the U.S. government... usually for things that simply needed an American rocket and they were willing to pay any price to see that it happened that way.

This said, private efforts for spaceflight that are not being subsidized at all are happening in America, and if anything I'd say that America is where the big changes in how things are happening in space is taking place. While I can name a small handful of private commercial spaceflight efforts in other countries (like Copenhagen Suborbital, ARCA, and Excalibur Almaz), the real development is happening in America with a couple dozen companies who have actual hardware they are working on and new companies popping up as fast as older companies seem to go under. It really is extremely exciting to see all of the activity that is taking place and so much is happening with private commercial spaceflight that no single person can really keep track of what is going on now.

SpaceX certainly is not the only company doing stuff in space right now.

Re:Privatization Working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41405759)

For a prime example - look at the dismantling of education via charter schools.

Either you have ties to public education that bias your opinion or the charter schools in your area are particularly bad. Where I live, the charter schools routinely outscore traditional schools on standardized testing.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#41412975)

In terms of charter schools, most do not charge tuition or fees of any kind, or at least are just like public schools in terms of costs. If anything, most of them operate on a per pupil basis with considerably less money than the public schools and don't have access to some kinds of tax revenues such as the ability to levy local property taxes (although they may get some state funds that may include a statewide levy and other educational funds). That they can get higher scores with less money should speak volumes about what the public schools are doing.

On the other hand, most charter schools don't have to take in the troubled children or those with serious handicaps or disabilities. If a student is disruptive, has students who don't want to abide by a dress code, or sass off to their teachers, the charter school doesn't have to keep them. Public schools can't be quite so choosy in those situations and need to do more to work with these kind of students. There are very few charter schools that I've ever even heard about which work explicitly with students having "special education needs".

What I especially like about charter schools, as a parent, is that the administration is much closer to the student and much more responsive to legitimate requests by parents. If I am having a problem with an instructor that doesn't seem to get resolved or simply need to address a bullying problem one of my children is encountering, the public schools seem to make it into a bureaucratic mess that rarely gets resolved. It seems to be taken care of immediately in a charter school... assuming it is ever a problem at all.

Re:Privatization Working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41406517)

In Colorado, Douglas County, all of the charter schools are public-owned. Not a one is from private money. And they are top-notch.

Re:Privatization Working? (2, Insightful)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 2 years ago | (#41404409)

Yea, they're doing well because they've gotten the benefits of _both_ the dollars "poured into public spaceflight" AND the private subsidies. What, you think they're reinventing the rocket from the ground up?

NASA is the only R&D shop working for the public benefit. And now that they've done the hard work, we're going to now start funneling our tax dollars into private corporations for them to make private profit off of public funding. "Privatizing profits and socializing debt" indeed...

Re:Privatization Working? (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#41404933)

Yea, they're doing well because they've gotten the benefits of _both_ the dollars "poured into public spaceflight" AND the private subsidies. What, you think they're reinventing the rocket from the ground up?

NASA spent about the same to put a fake upper stage on a shuttle SRB and launch it into the sea as SpaceX did to develop a brand new rocket engine and two rockets and launch them into space.

Re:Privatization Working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41405615)

And, all of NASA's equipment was built to much higher fault tolerances.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41406415)

And we see the difference between building something to higher fault tolerances and building something you'll use.

Re:Privatization Working? (2)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41406673)

NASA is the only R&D shop working for the public benefit.

Really? That would come as a bit surprise to DARPA, NIST, etc. Do you know who invented the Internet? Not to mention all the universities, astronomical observatories, private foundations, etc. What "public benefit" do you think NASA should be working for, if you never want the results to be "funneled" to the public?

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

MattskEE (925706) | about 2 years ago | (#41412213)

Umm, this is how government funded R&D is supposed to work. The government spends money on projects that are too risky or too long-term for private companies to easily justify funding on internal dollars. Then when a higher level of technical maturity is reached private companies can take the body of knowledge, develop their own products for the government and private users, and start selling products to the government (and other customers) for less money than the government would have spent to build to develop and build it themselves (or pay a contractor to do for them). It's a win win win: the company wins, the government wins, and non-government customers win because they can now buy tech that up until then was controlled by the government.

It has happened in all sorts of fields including space. Government science and R&D funding has helped advance a huge number of fields.

But the government and many of the external researchers it funds are not in the business of making and selling products, so the plan for "technology transfer" and "transition" (to industry, whether real industry or the "prime" contractor industry) can be an important consideration in receiving govt dollars for a project depending on the work and technical readiness.

Re:Privatization Working? (0)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#41404845)

Where were they 20-30 years ago then? I mean, they're all coming out now (but not commercially available yet, still undergoing testing). Considering we archived orbital flight 30 years ago, they have 30 years of experience to build with.

Or could it be perhaps today there's actually enough money being thrown around by people who want to be astronauts that there's now a good enough ROI? 30 years ago, there was no ROI so no one invested in it (other than NASA).

We had the technology to do so 30 years ago. Yet these private companies advertising orbital flights (for the last decade or so) still haven't launched a commercial service yet (I'm not talking preorders. I mean launching and recovering now as a regular mission).

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41406431)

Yet these private companies advertising orbital flights (for the last decade or so) still haven't launched a commercial service yet (I'm not talking preorders. I mean launching and recovering now as a regular mission).

The ULA (and its predecessors, Lockheed Martin and Boeing) have launched many things into orbit over the past twenty five years. Orbital Sciences has launched stuff for about 20 years. These are private companies advertising orbital flights.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

Burdell (228580) | about 2 years ago | (#41404539)

Funny you should say that, since none of Virgin, Scaled Composites, and XCOR are working on orbital flight.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | about 2 years ago | (#41405515)

XCOR has a two-stage fully reusable orbital system in early development to directly follow the Lynx. XCOR CEO Jeff Greason has mentioned this during several talks, but the company in general avoids speaking about things which are not actual hardware yet.

Rest assured, however, suborbital systems in general are steeping stones to bigger things, much like Mercury was to Apollo.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

Burdell (228580) | about 2 years ago | (#41406127)

Mercury was orbital after the first two manned flights, which used the same vehicle on top of a smaller rocket. Scaled Composites' work is not something that will apply to orbital flight (unless you want to re-create the space shuttle, and take a long time to get there).

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41406583)

We've heard statements like that before, in the 1970's. "Apple's work is not something that can be applied to real computing.... The Wright Brothers' work is not something that can be applied to real transportation...."

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

Burdell (228580) | about 2 years ago | (#41406753)

Hardly a similar comparison. We know what it takes to get to space.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41406969)

Hardly a similar comparison. We know what it takes to get to space.

Yes, and IBM, DEC, CDC, etc. knew how to build computers. So it *is* a "similar" comparison.

But there's a difference between merely "getting to space" (which was the goal in the 1960's) and getting to space affordably (which is the goal today).

If you just want to stuff an astronaut into a capsule and shoot him into space, regardless of cost or safety, that can be done pretty quickly. Especially if you buy the capsule from the Russians.

But that's not what we're looking for. The goal for companies like Virgin Galactic and XCOR is to create a low-cost revolutionize in spaceflight, as companies like Apple did in computing. So, it will take a bit longer -- just as it took Steve Wozniak longer to design and build than Apple II than it would to pick up the phone and order an IBM/360.

Re:Privatization Working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41406639)

SS3 was slated to be a full orbital craft. Instead, NG is now making it a point to point sub-orbital route using WK2 as a launcher. 2 hours on the kangaroo route (london->melbourne), which currently takes 24 hours.

In addition, stratolaunch will use a 'Wk3' (several 747's) to launch a falcon 5 or 9 into space.

Now, these are not getting there within 2 flights. But then again, NASA had 15 years of missile development from the DOD which formed the backbone of everything. Even the mighty saturn V was started in 1955, several years BEFORE NASA was formed.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41407019)

Exactly. Aviation did not start with nonstop flights from New York to Australia. It started with once or twice around the field.

And there were people who looked at the first airplanes and snickered. Airships were already making *much* longer flights, carrying *much* larger payloads. Cynics could see no value in a technology that promised to *someday* do what airships had done long ago.

It's the perennial battle between those who see what can be and those who see only what has been.

Re:Privatization Working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41411567)

I think it is more like the difference between gliding and powered flight. Building a dedicated glider can teach you a few things applicable to powered flight... assuming that someone else doing powered flight hasn't already worked those particular details out. Otherwise, there are some pretty fundamental changes you would need to make to your design once jumping off the tallest hill doesn't take you far enough.

Some of the suboribital craft seem to achieve speeds almost an order of magnitude short of orbital velocity, which suggests a rather significant difference is needed for engines and reentry handling. There is already quite a bit known about the latter, and it seems like the baby-steps being taken are for financial reasons and not the technology learning curve. At the very least, that is less romantic than early pioneers taking the first few steps to learn new things, as opposed to trying to get some quick funding before moving on.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41412003)

I think it is more like the difference between gliding and powered flight. Building a dedicated glider can teach you a few things applicable to powered flight... assuming that someone else doing powered flight hasn't already worked those particular details out.

These are not dedicated gliders. Scaled and XCOR have done powered flights in the past -- and Lynx will start with powered flight on its very first flight. The engine was the first component XCOR developed.

Some of the suboribital craft seem to achieve speeds almost an order of magnitude short of orbital velocity, which suggests a rather significant difference is needed for engines and reentry handling. There is already quite a bit known about the latter, and it seems like the baby-steps being taken are for financial reasons and not the technology learning curve. At the very least, that is less romantic than early pioneers taking the first few steps to learn new things, as opposed to trying to get some quick funding before moving on.

Again, there is a difference between merely getting into space and doing so affordable.

So, if someone can't afford to go into orbit, they should never go into space at all? Because it isn't romantic enough for you? Do you really believe that?

If Jobs and Wozniak couldn't afford to build a Cray 1, they should not have built any computer at all? Because people already knew how to build big computers?

If Orville and Wilbur couldn't afford to build a passenger Zeppelin, they shouldn't have built any sort of flying machine? Because "baby steps" are worthless? Unless something is the biggest, the best, and most expensive, it's not worth doing?

Of course, if you say suborbital is worthless because it isn't orbit, Bob Zubrin could say (and does say) that Earth orbit is worthless because it isn't Mars. And fans of the 100 Year Starship could say that Mars is worthless because it isn't Alpha Centauri. If everyone said that, no one would ever build anything.

Tell me, Anonymous, how many times have you, personally, been in orbit? Or even been to 100 kilometers? Somehow, it's always people who have never been in space who make that argument.

Re:Privatization Working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41413647)

The discussion of glider vs. powered flight was supposed to be an airplane analogy, not referencing whether the spacecraft from those companies were powered or not. The point being building and optimizing a glider may offer diminishing returns to building a powered aircraft, especially in a post-infancy aircraft industry.

And the comment about it not being romantic was in no way supposed to imply that should stop them or should be of any considerable priority. Although I think it might be a factor in why some people are less than thrilled or pleased with their progress, which is the only relevance it was supposed to have.

But I think there is a subtlety you are missing in main part of the argument. The issue isn't so much with doing baby steps, especially when doing something new, it is questioning the appropriateness of baby steps in the context of other companies not taking baby steps, and when taking baby steps with technologies/approaches that are of questionable novelty. It is far from a guaranteed failure and indeed has a chance of accomplishing something new and great. But the approach does run a risk of being marginalized to some niche market. Even if it leads to just to a small space tourism business, that could be a successful business plan, but I think people were hoping for much more. And it is not like they need to shoot for Mars or bust, there isn't some moving goal post (in my mind at least). The importance of (cheap) orbital flight is the rather significant commercial demand for satellite launches, suggesting that could be the threshold where a commercial space flight company could really flourish and change the ball game. I wouldn't be surprised if improvements in satellite launch costs would bring them far more business and be far more likely to impact day-to-day life of most people than bringing us thousand dollar sub-orbital flights.

I actually never said those companies should stop doing what they are doing nor do I think they should stop (I've only written this post and the one you've replied to here, not the other AC posts). I wouldn't invest money in such companies, but I also wouldn't advise against anyone investing money in them either. There are a couple different reasonable approaches, but with differing priorities and risks.

Tell me, Anonymous, how many times have you, personally, been in orbit? Or even been to 100 kilometers? Somehow, it's always people who have never been in space who make that argument.

I'm not sure how relevant that is, since I would expect 99.9+% of people making any argument for any side in any such debates have not been in orbit. I, myself, would rather spend my entertainment money on electrical components to build things than traveling to orbit, even if it was the cost of an airline ticket. Heck, I would probably pay more to get a detailed tour of their facilities than to ride their crafts, because I am more interest in the tech. But that doesn't mean I can't understand why others would want to go. It doesn't prevent me from supporting those that want to go and do such things.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41406643)

Mercury was orbital after only two flights because it was part of the Moon race -- a political statement. The motto was "waste anything except time." If the goal had been to develop affordable, reliable, routine access to space, it would have taken longer.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 2 years ago | (#41404591)

Would we be better served via the public sector?

To develop much of the technology and necessary knowledge in the first place, probably. But to take it further and bring the costs down to within reach of more people, the private sector probably has a better chance. There's a role for both.

Re:Privatization Working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41406817)

I agree that public sector SHOULD do the bleeding edge stuff. Absolutely. But launch is not bleeding edge. Hell, it is not even cutting edge. For that matter, neither is putting up space stations. At this time, NASA should be allowed to do what it does best and push the frontiers that they want, while allowing private space to take over the redundant work. And yes, launching IS redundant. So is putting up a space station. Let NASA go to Mars, asteroids, build fuel depots, NERVA, robotics, etc.

Re:Privatization Working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41405751)

First of all, what the commercial space companies are doing is very exciting but only SpaceX is really on track to manned orbital flights.

Second, SpaceX profited from a huge amount of technology transfer and consulting engineers from NASA.

Third, the reason NASA is happy about this is that they can't get anything done anymore without getting overridden by congress and being forced into massive amounts of pork spending.

In short, privatization is working out because NASA still does a lot of the fundamental research and private companies are free to build rockets without congressional bullshit.

Re:Privatization Working? (1)

RocketAcademy (2708739) | about 2 years ago | (#41407257)

First of all, what the commercial space companies are doing is very exciting but only SpaceX is really on track to manned orbital flights.

What evidence do you have that Boeing and Sierra Nevada are not on track? (And why are manned orbital flights the only ones that count?)

Second, SpaceX profited from a huge amount of technology transfer and consulting engineers from NASA.

Just as the aviation industry profited from a huge amount of technology transfer and consulting from the NACA. That is bad because...?

Third, the reason NASA is happy about this is that they can't get anything done anymore without getting overridden by congress and being forced into massive amounts of pork spending.

Sorry, now you're just whining. *Every* government agency is responsible to Congress (and, through Congress, to the taxpayers). If you don't want to be responsible to elected officials, you shouldn't be working for the government. Period.

In short, privatization is working out because NASA still does a lot of the fundamental research and private companies are free to build rockets without congressional bullshit.

Again, that's pretty much the way the NACA worked during the 1930's. The result was an American aircraft industry that was dominant the world over. And that's bad because...?

Re:Privatization Working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41413111)

There is a difference between saying NASA shouldn't be responsible to Congress and disagreeing with Congress's decisions. I don't think think I've seen many advocating the former. Even then, there is a difference between being disagreeing with Congress's priorities, and being upset that the decisions make it difficult to fulfill anyone one's priorities.

Re:Privatization Working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41408237)

It is more accurate to call this fascistic. It is not free enterprise when the customer is the state paying with money it takes from others.

That said, the draw from the creativity and productivity of the true free market is indeed apparent. This has historical precedent; when a business or industry is created or taken over by the state, regardless of if that control is direct in the case of socialism or indirect in the case of fascism, the labor is drawn from those actors who have been honed by cooperation and innovation rather than compulsion and mandate. This is why NASA kicked ass and put a man on the moon in a decade then slowly stagnate even with more productive outside contractors. At every level, personal through administrative, the entrepreneurial mechanisms were rotted out by mindless coercion.

As more and more control is given to this new 'private' space industry, it will yield better results than NASA, for a while. After a decade or two, if it is subject to similar bureaucracy, protectionism and arbitrary mandates like NASA, it will follow suit and become its own entrenched stagnant government protected monopoly.

Hopefully (1)

kiriath (2670145) | about 2 years ago | (#41404283)

Their powered gliders are not susceptible to brute force attacks.

Powerglide.. (1)

tetrahedrassface (675645) | about 2 years ago | (#41404585)

Coolest transformer..Powerglide G1. When is he launching? Yet another instance of life imitating art. His head is pointy though, maybe an ablative heat shield hat for re-entry!

Re:Powerglide.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41405349)

Coolest transformer..Powerglide G1. When is he launching? Yet another instance of life imitating art. His head is pointy though, maybe an ablative heat shield hat for re-entry!

Powerglide was a A-10 Thurderbolt II, commonly know as the Warthog http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powerglide_(Transformers) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-10_Thunderbolt_II

God is more real than the Lynx (-1, Troll)

strangeattraction (1058568) | about 2 years ago | (#41405563)

Will the public's appetite for Computer Generated and fiberglass full size mock-ups ever be satisfied? God is more real than that space craft. After SpaceShip 2 is successful expect the XCOR bankruptcy announcement. But where did all the money go?

Re:God is more real than the Lynx (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | about 2 years ago | (#41405755)

automated trolling is not yet a substitute for the human touch.

Re:God is more real than the Lynx (1)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | about 2 years ago | (#41405861)

Obvious troll is obvious. Have you been in the XCOR hangar lately? I didn't think so.

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