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Another Private Space Startup

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the to-the-moon-alice dept.

Space 147

An anonymous reader writes "Wired has a story about former PayPal owner Elon Musk who has his own rocket company, SpaceX, trying to lower the cost of getting into space. They just tested the rocket engine, and hope to fly a test by the end of the year. Not bad for less than a year's worth of work so far." We mentioned this guy last year.

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SAVOR MY DICK NOG (hi udb!) (-1)

Proctal Relapse (467579) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810205)

#!HEY LISTEN UP FAGGOTS
posting AC is for fucking QUEEEERS | | / /
"MEN" who want to fuck other "MEN" ( ( |=D ( ( =D
mmmmmmm the sweet taste of BALL SAP | | |@ | | @
can't get ENOUGH can you FAGGOTS??
right over here -- this is your "LOVER" --^^^ ^
and THIS HERE is your ASS about to get FUCKED ------|

FAGSFAGS ho mo FAIRY GA Y! AC= GAY#! !
gay ho mo fa GA y! A C Yo !
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gay QUEER FAIRY GA Y! A C AY$!# .

Re:SAVOR MY DICK NOG (hi udb!) (-1, Troll)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810241)

haha jo0 fag0rts got 0wn0red!!!!!!!!!11111111111111111111

Re:SAVOR MY DICK NOG (hi udb!) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810389)

Which is a worse vision?

Richard Stallman totally nude

Linus Torvalds totally nude

Bill Gates totally nude

Steve Jobs totally nude

Personally, I'd rather see Jobs totally nude since he seems to be the classiest of all of them. Of course since I'm not a f4g0rt, I'd REALLY rather see none of them nude.

Re:SAVOR MY DICK NOG (hi udb!) (0)

pagluy (651141) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810494)

We really need to axe AC posting, it's making these boards a haven for 13 year olds with too much time, and no way to filter the good AC posts from the bad.

FIRST (-1, Troll)

TheLASTjay (562758) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810212)

First? To the moon!

gotta love it... (5, Funny)

sundip01 (214355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810218)

by far, the greatest phenomenon in the world is that of the rich man with too much time on his hands....

Re:gotta love it... (1)

Bendebecker (633126) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810249)

...and too much money in his pocket.

Re:gotta love it... (1)

krelian (525362) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810274)

Well, when you are rich it usually means that you have more money than you currently need.

Re:gotta love it... (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810361)

After all, who else would have the freedom to try out such a grandiose idea? I wish the guy all the luck in the world...

First nigger (-1, Troll)

Klerck (213193) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810220)

sup dawg

Very dangerous (0, Flamebait)

unterderbrucke (628741) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810222)

Many people in space is dangerous. These "low cost" space aircraft all emite waste, and the people on board do too. This waste leads to spacecraft getting punctured, even destroyed, such as in the case of the Columbia, and eventually to numerous deaths. These craft also idealize visiting space, which is actually a dangerous proposition, considering recent deaths.

Re:Very dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810306)

Space holds a terrible power.

Re:Very dangerous (2, Informative)

nemski (587833) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810357)

I thought that Colubia was damaged at take-off, not while in space.

Re:Very dangerous (3, Funny)

Coz (178857) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810441)

Ignore that troll beneath the gantry... if/when one of these private gigs takes off, he'll be crisped in the backwash....

Re:Very dangerous (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810544)

How can you talk with my cock in your throat?

Re:Very dangerous? (3, Informative)

johnnys (592333) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810616)

IIRC, none of these private ventures that are trying to go into space are also trying to go into orbit. They are trying to do "sub-orbital" flights like the first couple of Mercury flights.

So, none of the "waste" that they may leave behind is going to remain up there: It will all come falling back down into the atmosphere where it will not pose any danger to any other spacecraft.

You should be labeled the SUPER troll. (-1, Troll)

HanzoSan (251665) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810737)



First you make stupid comments about how you want the USA to be a police state, then you make more stupid comments.

Everyone should just label you troll when they see the name unterderbrucke without even reading what you post, I mean you believe we should be arrested because we "MIGHT" be stealing without any evidence to really prove it, well I say we censor you because you "might" be a troll.

Well, it come with two pair of pants. (5, Interesting)

inertia@yahoo.com (156602) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810224)

By his own admission, Musk is making some grandiose claims -- among them that he will cut the cost of launching up to 1,000 pounds of payload into near-Earth orbit by up to two-thirds, and that he can buck the dismal success rate of space-launch startups.

Wait a second. Grandiose or not, which market is he talking about? The European Space Agency can already lift more for less. So is he talking about taking two-thirds off the American price or the European price?

Heck, for all we know, he's going to take two-thirds off the price Afghanistan would charge you if they had launch capability.

Mirror to the article. [martin-studio.com]

Re:Well, it come with two pair of pants. (3, Informative)

ifreakshow (613584) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810255)

Later the article claims he plans on charging $6 million dollars. Sounds like a bargain to me.

Re:Well, it come with two pair of pants. (2, Funny)

sigep_ohio (115364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810333)

He may be rich, but that doesn't mean he isn't greedy.

Re:Well, it come with two pair of pants. (1)

haedesch (247543) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810444)

on his company's webiste (http://www.spacex.com/ [spacex.com] ) he claims that it is one third of the cost compared to "American Launching Vehicles"

what about insurance? (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 11 years ago | (#5811199)

russia is good for launching, they can do heavy loads and have the lowest failure rate.

yeah- (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810226)

fly to the moon, while we steal your identity....

Re:yeah- (1)

Rick.C (626083) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810480)

fly to the moon, while we steal your identity....

You won't be needing your identity here any longer. There are no scheduled return flights.

Private space? (0, Troll)

termos (634980) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810229)

As a bedroom, or you own secret cave?!

Re:Private space? (3, Funny)

WTFmonkey (652603) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810264)

Just checked out the website. Tagline:

"Be the first on your block to ride a big shiny dildo to the moon!"

John Carmack (1, Interesting)

rmohr02 (208447) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810237)

In a semi-related note, John Carmack (yes, that John Carmack) is competing to win the X-Prize, which gives $10 million to the first small team to put a man 62.5 miles above the surface of the earth. See http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/space/10/16/xprize.co ntest/ [cnn.com]

Re:John Carmack (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810281)

NO?

REALLY?

Why havent I read about this on slashdot?

Also, I'm curious if you have any information on this "water is wet" theory I've been hearing about.

Re:John Carmack (2, Funny)

niom (638987) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810399)

Also, I'm curious if you have any information on this "water is wet" theory I've been hearing about.

Not yet, but a start-up founded by Steve Wozniak (yes, that Steve Wozniak) has already made significant advances towards the commercial production of humid water. Just imagine the possibilities!

Re:John Carmack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810342)

I still wish he named his space-flight organization UAC, and was working on flying to Deimos and Phobos.

Re:John Carmack (3, Insightful)

ChuckDivine (221595) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810477)

There's quite a bit going on with regard to private space. Just check out The X Prize [xprize.org] for information on Carmack, Rutan and others. The most recent story [scaled.com] about Rutan's work is attracting quite a bit of attention.

Personally, I think the next crewed orbital vehicle will be coming out of one of these startups, not out of NASA. Of course, NASA could get back into the picture if they decided to help independents rather than try to run the whole damned show.

Re:John Carmack (2, Informative)

nofx_3 (40519) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810850)

Yeah, his company is called armadillo aerospace, it uses a hydrogen peroxide engine and has no control surfaces, instead it is controlled by software so that the engines are independently controlled and can be used to stabalize the craft. check it out at Armadillo Aerospace [armadilloaerospace.com]

Re:John Carmack (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810876)

John Carmack (yes, that John Carmack) is competing to win the X-Prize, which gives $10 million to the first small team to put a man 62.5 miles above the surface of the earth.

Shouldn't he be focusing on game development instead? Currently, his reputation for THAT ain't looking so good...

First post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810242)

First post.

Nerds in space (5, Interesting)

phorm (591458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810247)

I found how many other types of people are actively starting their own "going to space" club. So far the only ones I've heard of on slashdot are IT-industry veterans. Are they the only ones, or is there somebody else out there with the money to pull it off?

Regardless, private space enterprise could be both a good and bad thing. As NASA seems to be flagging in some areas, private funding of exploration could be the big push needed to get us beyond the moon.

That... and whomever develops a working "warp drive" will probably have to be a Star Trek geek...

Re:Nerds in space (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810623)

The guy who built the ion engine that was on Deep Space 1 got the idea from Star Trek... so anything is possible.

Personally, I think we need to sort out Fusion. We've got TDP technology, so at least that's a step in the right direction...

Be the 1st person on the block to orbit the block (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810692)

found how many other types of people are actively starting their own "going to space" club. So far the only ones I've heard of on slashdot are IT-industry veterans. Are they the only ones, or is there somebody else out there with the money to pull it off?

Just a matter of time before IP Lawyers are in space...

"Jeff Bezos announces Amazon awarded patent for 1-click launch."

"Pan-IP files suit against PayPal for infringement of their patent on doing business from space."

"Now we've got all this room, we've even got the moon and I hear the U.S.S.R will be open soon, as vacation land for lawyers in love."

Re:Nerds in space (4, Funny)

Cyno (85911) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810775)

That... and whomever develops a working "warp drive" will probably have to be a Star Trek geek...

And get sued by Paramount for violating their trademarks.

FMCP (-1)

Guns n' Roses Troll (207208) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810261)

Re:FMCP (-1)

Proctal Relapse (467579) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810268)

sup nigga! rice = gas for nips

HURRAY (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810266)

In SOVIET RUSSIA the private space starts up YOU!

Fitting for former PayPal founder (3, Funny)

Ooblek (544753) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810289)

Now that he helped make an electronic payment method to help the corrupt hide money and defraud eBay auctioneers, he has invented a punishment method for those caught in the act! Get caught using a hacked PayPal account, get blasted into space!

Or maybe it is to blast the 5 PayPal customer dis-service employees into space....

This guy doesn't look like Emperor Ming by any chance does he?

Re:Fitting for former PayPal founder (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810348)

That's probably where he got the financing for all this... all those "frozen accounts" on paypal.

"I need $40k for some LOx, who's got $40k in their account..... ahhh there we are *clickity click*"

I Can See It Now... (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810421)

Fitting for former PayPal founder

Piece of Elon Musk's Rocket
Item # 76445898124

Starting Bid: $1,000.00

Current High Bid: $3,487,840.25 CmdrTacoBidsAMillion

Item Description:
Actual part of Elon Musk's Rocket which landed in my back yard! RARE! Shipping to include $100 freight. Pay by check or money order, I DO *NOT* ACCEPT PAYPAL!

Re:Fitting for former PayPal founder (2, Informative)

ianjk (604032) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810472)

http://www.paypalwarning.com/WallOfShame/Default.a sp

Testimonials to Paypals fair buisness practices.

Re:Fitting for former PayPal founder (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810780)

Several months ago I was offering the general public a free copy of the popular OS called Linux 8.0.
(...)
PayPal sent me an e-mail saying that they were going to suspend my account unless I could provide proof that I had permission to distribute this software.
(...)
PayPal said that I had to prove that I had permission from Microsoft to distribute the software.

well, nobody accused them of inteligence, i guess

oh yea, links are good [paypalwarning.com]

Cheaper way into space.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810295)

All the better to bomb the moon for water!

Obligitory PayPal Reference: (3, Interesting)

Drathus (152223) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810296)

So, did he get the funding from this from all the disgruntled PayPal users?

http://www.paypalsucks.com [paypalsucks.com]

You might not like it, but that's my opinion.

Re:Obligitory PayPal Reference: (2, Informative)

Grab (126025) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810456)

Too right.

"Hey, this guy who stole all our money is spending it on something cool for himself, so now he's a hero."

The wierd ironies of Slashdot postings. And to think tabloid newspapers get criticised for being fickle - they ain't got nothing on geek news...

Grab.

Space Entrepreneurship Network (5, Informative)

AbdullahHaydar (147260) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810309)

The guy in the article should join the Space Entrepreneurship Network [spaceentre...urship.net] .

Maybe I should too...

Either way, I'll better off than that stupid NSync guy who thought Pepsi was going to sponsor his $20 million ride on a Soyuz. If he's really a space fanatic, as he claims, he should have put the money up himself. (I'm sure he's got enough, with all the teenage girls who listen to that crap.)

I've Got a Rocket Company Too (4, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810319)

We have a pressurized water engine, but we need a lot of volunteers to work the pump. Anyone want to sign on?

Do they still have those little platic water rockets or have they gone the way of the lawn dart?

Re:I've Got a Rocket Company Too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810364)

They still have 'em. They never impressed me, I never saw one that could go any farther than I could throw it. (If just throwing it is a more effective, it's a pretty shitty rocket ship)

They got cool higher-tech variations on the theme now, those "air hog" planes are pretty damn cool... You pump and pump till theres enough pressurized air in it to turn a propellor which makes yer little plane actually fly.

Re:I've Got a Rocket Company Too (2, Interesting)

mnmn (145599) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810539)


Well with 1.5 litre pet bottles Ive launched rockets quite high. I never measured how high, but way farther than anyone could throw. We even tried a payload of a parachute that would open, but we gave up on that, with water as propellant, the payload weight can be significant even for small rockets.

I honestly believe rockets can be built with high pressure cylinders pumping out to larger containers of water with a small exhaust. If its made large enough, with the proper materials and pressure locks etc, and made multistage, I think it could reach impressive heights. Still I'd be skeptical about an attempt to reach orbit.

Re:I've Got a Rocket Company Too (2, Informative)

lynnroth (213826) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810407)

You can make your own with a two liter bottle and some pressurized air. I used an air compressor.
Very easy to get 80 ft or more.

[google.com]
A google search

Re:I've Got a Rocket Company Too (1)

Rick.C (626083) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810680)

I made a launcher about ten years ago and our Boy Scout troop had a water rocket contest.

The 2-liter bottles didn't work well at all - 50, 60 feet, tops. The 1-liter bottles were excellent, though - a couple hundred feet easily. One went completely out of sight, pretty much straight up.

We cut fins out of plastic and attached them with duct tape. The bottles with the flat area near the neck work best (Schwepps tonic, etc.) Angle the fins very slightly so the rocket will spiral (like an arrow). The real trick is to cut a raquet ball in half and duct tape it over the "nose". (Actually, about 1/3 of the ball is about the right weight.) This gives the rocket the proper balance.

For safety, I tested the bottles to 160-psi and the launch pressure limit was 120-psi.

Sorry, I don't have launcher plans to post, but it worked like one of those wine bottle stoppers that expand a rubber seal inside the neck when you push down the lever. Release the catch and

WHOOOSSHH !!

Re:I've Got a Rocket Company Too (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810790)

Like the AC said, they are still out there. Unlike the AC, if you aren't retarded, you can launch them much further with pressure than by hand.

Go Go GO!!!!! (5, Insightful)

raygundan (16760) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810321)

The more the merrier. NASA is busy launching (or lately, not launching) shuttles that cost roughly 30X the cost of launching a Soyuz, and has cancelled the latest of its "shuttle replacement" programs (the X-33/Venturestar). The sooner somebody else gets their foot in the door, the sooner we can get on with the exciting stuff in space. Cheaper. Some of these nuts will blow themselves up. Some will fail less catastrophically. A few will make it, and it will be a damn good thing to have somebody besides NASA pushing out for a change.

I heartily welcome and cheer for anybody willing to try. Build it and go, you crazy rich bastards!!

Re:Go Go GO!!!!! (2, Funny)

malia8888 (646496) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810438)

Yes, let SpaceX develop an economical "FED EX" or "UPS" of the space shuttle game. It might save our government (and us) lots of money.

Re:Go Go GO!!!!! (1)

axxackall (579006) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810761)

Do you mean to pass all space shuttling business from NASA to Fedex or UPS? Good idea!

So, when an austronaut on ISS will buy something on the web using his credit card, he'll have three options for delivering:

  • Next week Ground delivery;
  • Next day Air delivery;
  • Next hour Vacuum delivery.

Re:Go Go GO!!!!! (1)

axxackall (579006) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810858)

BTW, speaking about Space Postal Services, read this [lenta.ru] (or translate it if you don't speak Russian).

Briefly, Russians wnat to open Postal Service Station on ISS to make some money in order to help their poor space budget.

Exciting, yes, but... (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810336)

How long before the following happen:

There's a big Nike swoosh in the night sky

An errant launch vehicle kills someone (the goverment just gets all somber and hands out taxpayer money, what would a private company do, buy Space Explorer insurance? Bet that's not gonna be cheap...)

Servers are running in space, immune from meddling DMCA-type laws, sending spam, etc. ("In tonight's news, a SpamHaus missile took out RalskySat I, also the RIAA plans to launch a series of jamming satellites as CD prices top $75 each.")

People start spamming me with Timeshares over Florida offers...

Damn terrorists! (2, Funny)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810358)

With paypal being charged under the PATRIOT-ACT, it's obvious this guy is just a terrorist. He probably just wants to fly his rocket ship up and drop a bunch of crap on people from space.

Space is for the government. private space exploration is an invitation to disaster. Hopefully Total Information awareness will keep in eye on these dangerous types.

thanks, but no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810359)

Chances are, you'd get half way there and they'd shut down your rocket for no reason.

Dupe admission (1)

TimeTrav (460837) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810393)

About time! Now instead of posting dupes in ignorance, they check to see if it is a dupe and post it anyway with a note saying so right in the post!

Thank the X prize (5, Informative)

apsmith (17989) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810406)

If you're wondering what's up with all these private space ventures lately, the Space Access Society [space-access.org] conference is going on right now. This particular contender is for freight, not human travel (at least at this point), and orbital, not suborbital as in the X Prize [xprize.com] competition, which has also been heating up the last few months, since they got the full $10 million in the bank last October.

government space? (3, Interesting)

KrancHammer (416371) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810408)


While I am all for free enterprise, I am not yet convinced that the technology exists to make space travel inexpensive enough for any organization that does not have the capability to spend hundreds of millions without seeing a return (like, say government agencies).
Sure a suborbital flight may be (relatively) cheap, but I am not sure that keeping humans in space for prolonged periods can ever be made safe and cheap.

Re:government space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810609)

Think of it like this: if a private company launches a vehicle with a cargo bay compatible with standard shuttle cargo at a cheaper launch cost than the shuttle, it suddenly becomes much easier to get congress to move NASA money into the private company's hands.

Sure, the missions are currently a loss and done for research, but if we can cut the loss by 30%, NASA would pay them to use the better launcher. In a hurry. NASA is currently trapped-- they can't get money to design a better shuttle, and they can't stop launching the shuttle because there's no better (working) design on the table. If another company took the risk to build one and break the stalemate, NASA (or possibly congress pushing NASA) would jump at the chance to do the same stuff they do now cheaper, and would pay for the rest of the missions.

I'm not sure it will be safe and cheap in my lifetime, either. I don't care. Nothing really, really great is ever easy or cheap to get rolling. It will be safe and cheap someday, but that someday will be farther away if we don't push forward now.

Re:government space? (1)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810617)

While I am all for free enterprise, I am not yet convinced that the technology exists to make space travel inexpensive enough for any organization that does not have the capability to spend hundreds of millions without seeing a return.

This, of course, assumes you don't consider scientific knowledge, new technologies and the sheer inspirational wonder of exploration to be returns. ;-)

Re:government space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810812)

I am not yet convinced that the technology exists to make space travel inexpensive enough for any organization that does not have the capability to spend hundreds of millions without seeing a return

Consider that there are multiple private organizations, on a relatively shoestring budgets, in the USA alone, who are doing their own stuff in this area. Check for Microcosm [smad.com] , Flometrics [flometrics.com] , even a department of a university [csulb.edu] , not to mention John Carmack's company [armadilloaerospace.com] , XCOR [xcor.com] , Burt Rutan's Scaled [scaled.com] , all regularly mentioned on the Slashdot. Add other countries - in Europe, for example - in short, a lot of guys are thinking different than you do.

And you won't believe how unsophisticated by today's standards is the technology of the first rockets. Just imagine, they were made out of steel, with almost no computers in the whole lifecycle of devices! It's literally a technology of times half a century back. It's not a technological issues anymore, you just use off-the-shelf components, well, for most of things you need. And you have tons of knowledge for what and how and why to do and not to do. Having all this in, one can wonder, why we still don't fly economically :) .

Re:government space? (2, Interesting)

superdan2k (135614) | more than 11 years ago | (#5811042)

Can you present some data to back up your "not yet convinced" statement?

Going to space is old-hat and can be made cheap if we can get around a lot of the b.s. bueauracracy that makes government-run space agencies cost what they do. All basic technology goes down in cost once it's gotten widespread adoption -- this is why technology (esp. computer technology) has been moving so quickly in the last twenty years. Because corporations need to continue to make profits they need to keep making new-and-improved technology. The stuff that was horribly expensive when we kicked off manned spaceflight costs pennies now. Honestly, if we replicated the Apollo program using the same technologies, the program would cost PEANUTS. Think about it -- the computer that powered the CM and LEM is dwarfed by stuff as simple as a Palm III. All the exotic alloys they had to spend years researching and experimenting with are now old-hat. We have a great, reliable engine that we can use NOW (the Space Shuttle Main Engine), and another one that was extremely promising before the program was killed (the Aerospike, part of the X-33/VentureStar program). Going back to the moon would be a walk in the park (financially and technologically, but maybe not politically) right now.

As for orbit, well, humanity's already had some good experience with Mir and Skylab, and we're learning from our attempts at the International Space Station. Russia and France have both built extremely reliable, inexpensive throwaway boosters that work like a champ.

Re:government space? (1)

njdj (458173) | more than 11 years ago | (#5811149)

I am not yet convinced that the technology exists to make space travel inexpensive enough for any organization that does not have the capability to spend hundreds of millions without seeing a return (like, say government agencies).

If the government didn't steal so much of our money and squander it, there'd be more private organizations that could afford to do space research.
For real space travel (as distinct from dinking about in LEO) to become practical, manned launch costs have to be brought down. NASA has made absolutely no progress whatsoever on this in the last 20 years.

NASA Guidelines (4, Funny)

hndrcks (39873) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810462)

Hey, guys - if your rocket starts to malfunction - can you point it at - say - the Moon? We're looking for water. [slashdot.org]

X Prize (4, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810469)

What's the deal with this anyways?

I mean the purse is 10 million. It seems to me you'd have spent that many times over to develop a rocket ship. So I doubt the winner recoups his investment, let alone makes any profit.

So I assume it's more about bragging rights? And if so, why not donate the 10 million to charity, and just give out a fancy trophy?

Re:X Prize (1)

The Salamander (56587) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810587)

If you donate $10mil to charity, no one will know who you are.

If you spend $xxx mil and win the X-Prize, your name will be in the history books.

Re:X Prize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810619)

You still get an X Prize, just not 10 million dollars. You still get into the history books. You're still the "first rich asshole in space".

It seems to me that on the scale of spending, the 10 million is a fart in a jar to the competitors, so why not give it somewhere that it'll do good?

Compared to, say, the Nobel prize where 1 million is given to a scientist who is probably on a shoestring budget, and the money can in theory actually fund research.

I imagine the X Prize winner forgetting that the 10 mill is in the glove compartment of his car, because it's not worth the hassle of going to the bank to cash it.

Re:X Prize (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810993)

> You still get an X Prize, just not 10 million dollars. You still get into the history books. You're still the "first rich asshole in space".

Well, I haven't seen any poor assholes building spaceships lately, so I'll fly with whoever's building.

> I imagine the X Prize winner forgetting that the 10 mill is in the glove compartment of his car, because it's not worth the hassle of going to the bank to cash it.

I imagine the X Prize winner will take that $10M and use it to fund R&D that will go towards further reductions in his/her cost of launch.

Maybe to NASA, whose most advanced manned vehicle is a $500M-per-flight flying white elephant, $10M is a fart in a jar. But to a Carmack or Rutan or Musk, all of whom would love to see launch costs down to the $5-10M range or lower, $10M can go a long way.

Re:X Prize (2, Informative)

foolish (46697) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810721)

Actually a fair number of the XPrize entrants may not spend $10M in R&D and launch costs to get to their shot... so there is the possibility of it being a net benefit. Plus, first come first serve in terms of possibly being able to sell rides...

You might also check out the ERPS proposal for a series of similar federal prizes...

http://www.erps.org/papers/isdc2003.html

neat stuff, with escelation of prize monies the closer to orbit they git. keep in mind the Xprize is not a orbital infrastructure, but a ballistic shit... There are hurdles to get to orbital velocity.

$10 million goes a long way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5811018)

The specifications of such a device are as follows:

* It has to travel 62 miles - straight up.
* It has to travel 62 miles down and land in a controlled fashion so it can be re-used.
* It must not kill any passengers (of which it should be capable of carrying 3).

A $1000 motor scooter is a self-powered device that can easily go 62 miles there and back with a passenger - provided it's along the ground. For ten thousand times as much you ought to be able to come up with something nifty that'll go straight up. On the face of it, it is a simple problem.

One of the goals of the X-Prize is to reduce the cost of space travel. Private ventures may very well have to invent entirely new ways of solving technical spaceship problems.

90% of space projects so far are sponsored by governments, and as such they rarely innovate - they're too busy trying to satisfy a design commitee than to solve the problem with an elegant engineering solution.

I mean, come on. Look at what some of the X-Prize competitors have been up to:

Armadillo Aerospace [armadilloaerospace.com] - Powered manned lander working prototype that can hover [armadilloaerospace.com] and land safely. Look me in the eye and tell me that cost $10 million. In theory (assuming infinite onboard fuel and life-support) this thing could jet anywhere in the solar system - today. When they scale up the design it'll be capable of going to space with all the fuel it needs onboard.

Scaled Composites [scaled.com] - The cockpit [scaled.com] of their spaceship has a battery-powered digital kitchen timer clock glued to the control panel - a logical and practical cost-cutting measure that would never be seen in a US government program. It wouldn't suprise me if this spacecraft cost around $5 million to fabricate (especially since Scaled are an aircraft design and manufacturing company and could do it for cost). But it definitely did not cost $300 million.

Overpriced government projects have managed to convince you (and most of the public) that space travel needs to be expensive. The X-Prize will (with a bit of luck) end that myth.

Re:$10 million goes a long way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5811193)

That little armadillo lander thing is cute, but it ain't going to go up 62 miles.

Most commercial aircraft (even small capacity lear jets) cost well over 10 million to design and implement, why would something that reaches orbit be any cheaper?

Air travel is expensive after 100 years of practice, ergo, space travel is expensive too.

I just figure if the business plan involves profiting off of X Prize dollars, they'll be dismal failures in the end.

This actually could work... (2, Insightful)

bittmann (118697) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810482)

What this fellow seems to be promoting is nothing more than a "Big Dumb Booster"-based launch system. He's not worried about building a reusable launch vehicle a-la X-Prize [xprize.org] , or an orbiter/re-entry vehicle, or a hypersonic jet engine. Kerosene, LOX, and a good pumping system...not necessarily elegant, but could be pretty effective.

Big thrust, low weight, "cheap" to manufacture, limited exposure to the "risky" science of re-entry (leave that to the folks worrying about the payload)...

These guys may be on to something.

Be careful (1)

jstrain (648252) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810490)

You don't want the government shutting you down for violating the Homeland Security Act [slashdot.org]

If only Bill Gates would (4, Interesting)

Milo77 (534025) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810498)

If only Bill Gates would get a bee in hif bonnet about putting a man on mars in 10 years, I would start purchasing the software put out by his company just to support the endeavor. Maybe I am a sell out...

Re:If only Bill Gates would (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810585)

Yeah, Gates pisses his money away on charities and AIDS prevention in the third world and crap like that.

He should spend it on something utterly useless and idiotic like a rocket ship to the moon.

Re:If only Bill Gates would (1)

Dstrct0 (442821) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810957)

While I can't say I'd buy their software in order to support a M$ space program, I'd be pretty happy to see Billy boy fire himself as far into space as possible.

Think we can get him to take Ballmer with him?

Re:If only Bill Gates would (1)

ElGanzoLoco (642888) | more than 11 years ago | (#5811079)

Yay! So he could blow himself with his rocket, because of a stupid BSOD freezed the NT server controlling the engines.
Ballmer would blame it on Evil, communist open-source software.

Yes, the world would be a better place after that.

No, he's too busy trying to conquer Earth . . . (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 11 years ago | (#5811214)

"If only Bill Gates would get a bee in hif bonnet about putting a man on mars in 10 years"

Though, I am sure he day dreams about blasting a certain Finnish programmer off the face of Earth.

"I would start purchasing the software put out by his company just to support the endeavor."

Yes, let's all fund a SOFTWARE company to build rockets. That would be A LOT more efficient than funding, say, NASA.

The rockets can run on IIS and be manipulated with Internet Explorer and scheduled events via Outlook. Instead of a count down, we'll wait for the file system to defrag.

I can see it now . . . "lowest TCO to space" and "we will get to the moon before those commy penguinestas".

In Future News..... (4, Funny)

skreuzer (613775) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810506)

Former PayPal owner Elon Musk is dead

Re:In Future News..... (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810666)

Wow, he's going to die some time in the future!?! What a newsflash!

This just in: Skreuzer expected to die in future. More on this story as it develops.

You'd better be careful about making wild predictions like that, you never know when someone is going to turn out to be an immortal.

His site won already! (3, Funny)

Superfreaker (581067) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810525)

I think his server just went into orbit.

If his space firm is like his old one.... (1)

Neologic (48268) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810536)

then you would pay them to launch your payload and then never hear anything from them again.

"What payload are you talking about? We have no record of this."

Extra money huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810541)

Perhaps he should have spent some of that money on a server that can serve pages faster than my local McDonalds takes to get my meal ready...

That's nothing! (1)

thrillbert (146343) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810551)

I just want to see him improve the response of servers running ridiculously slow flash menu systems by a factor of three.. now that would be amazing!

---
The biggest difference between time and space is that you can't reuse time. -- Merrick Furst

Space Toy? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5810568)

mmm...

Are you sure that wasn't a sex toy?

Obligatory Simpsons Quote (1, Offtopic)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810576)

Organ transplants are best left to the professionals

/. on web (1, Redundant)

madshot (621087) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810625)

well.. I hope their rocket engine works better than their webpage..

Related article in Wired.. (1)

Flabby Boohoo (606425) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810698)

Specically, the private sector race to the moon. An excellent read.

I was suprised that a couple of these private companies are launching later this year.

"We will beat them all!" (0, Offtopic)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810733)

"We will beat them all to orbit," said T. P. Ruddygore of Big Tyme Space Endeavors & Travelling Faire Of Wondrous Misfits. "All that tinkering with rocketships this and fuel oxygen ratios that... Bah! That newfangled rot will get them a one way ticket to oblivion."

Ruddygore then announced his partner in the space business, Larry Fineburg, owner and operator of the Fineburg Rubber Company in Hope, Arkansas.

Both Ruddygore and Fineburg were evasive on the precise nature of the launch technology behind their astro-endeavor until a an exasperated reported asked, "What are you going to do? Build a giant rubber band?" At which point Ruddygore tromped off the stage, dragging Fineburg with him, and was quoted as saying, "That goddamned Sally Spinfeld gots a blabbermouth on her like the Devil hisself! I hired her as a secretary as a favor to ol' Skeetch, but I warned him she'd be a sek-ruity risk!"

BTSETFOWM public relations officer Jeb "Hound" Pulver then took the podium to answer questions about their goals in space.

"Let me put it this way," said Pulver, "Think chickens, barbed wire and country music. That should make it obvious." After he stared at the baffled reporters for several minutes, Pulver said, "Chickens. You know... *chick*-*ens*... Barbed *wye*-*err*? What part of this are you not understanding?"

Fantastic Four? (1, Funny)

Paul the Bold (264588) | more than 11 years ago | (#5810830)

I am anxious to see more of these private space startups. After all, it's how the Fantastic Four got their super powers. It's just a matter of time...

Steal mony, fund space program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5811020)

Sure, now we see were al the money stolen by PayPal went to. To his litle space program.

I think a lot of people who got duped by PayPal,
because for now good reason PayPal told his users that they were abused it, and kept al the money belonging to those users!

This is a ******** crime if you ask me.

May Ye Rot In Hell!
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