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180 comments

The Y Question (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041229)

What's the X Prize exactly?

Re:The Y Question (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041238)

zzz

Re:The Y Question (1, Informative)

xutopia (469129) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041239)

http://www.xprize.org/

Re:The Y Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041931)

Why is this modded troll? I didn't know what the x prize was either. Thank you very much to the person who posted the URL with more information.

Have you seen my cow? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041236)

< CheezyDee is quite sexy! >
\ ,__,
\ (oo)____
(__) )\
||--|| *

Re:Have you seen my cow? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041245)

how do you do it without getting caught by the lameness filter. pls let me know at honk2k1 at yahoo.com.

\ ,__,
\ (oo)____
(__) )\
||--|| *

Re:Have you seen my cow? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041489)

< It's magic! Booyah! Actually, it's the "Code" option! >
\ ,__,
\ (oo)____
(__) )\
||--|| *

Aw, baby cow is so *cute* (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041612)

nt

Santa sex (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041237)

Santa came to with a start. His head was throbbing and his eyelids felt like they had some fine grit trapped under them that made opening his eyes more than a little difficult. He groaned and yawned. "There must have been something strange in those cookies on the mantle,'' he thought as he struggled to recall where he was and what he had been doing when he blacked out. "Or maybe it was something in that glass of milk . . . "

He realized that he was sitting up in a chair. Not only that, but he was feeling a distinct draft. Suddenly he realized that his cozy fur-trimmed red suit was gone.

He squinted in the gloom, trying to make out the details of the dungeon-like room in which he sat. He wanted to rub his eyes to clear his vision but he couldn't raise either of his arms. As his eyes slowly focused, he saw that his arms were strapped to the arms of the heavy wooden chair in which he sat. What's more, his hands and arms were sheathed with tight black rubber gloves that ended about eight inches above his elbows!

As he struggled to clear his vision, he noticed that his clothing had, in fact, been entirely stripped from his ample body, which, incidentally, had been shaved as hairless as an infant's tummy. It was not surprising that he felt chilly: instead of his cuddly red and white Christmas suit, his torso had been cinched mercilessly into a thick rubber corset that was laced so tightly that it pinched his flabby stomach into a ridiculously narrow wasp's waist of only about 28 inches. At the top of the shiny black garment, the generous white flesh of his chest had been bunched up into two mammoth and very feminine looking breasts which mounded out of the rubber cups of the corset's built-in brassiere.

"What in thunder is going on?" the stunned elf muttered aloud in shock. "What has happened to my clothes? How did I get wedged into this infernal rubber girdle?"

He tried to move his feet but found that they, too, were immobilized. In the darkness he could see that nylon stockings had been carefully pulled up his legs and clipped to heavy-duty rubber garters that were attached to the corset's bottom. He could not see his feet - they appeared to have been strapped to the legs of the stout chair, which was bolted securely to the floor. However, he could tell by the odd position they were held in that they had been strapped into some very tight shoes with extraordinarily high heels.

Clearing his throat, he called out for help. For a few moments, he heard nothing. Then, in the distance, he heard the click-click-clicking of a woman approaching in high-heeled shoes.

There was a door some twenty feet away from the chair that confined him, and the light that poured through as it opened temporarily blinded him. He heard a click and the room was flooded with brightness.

"Good! You finally woke up! Now we can finish you up," came a woman's low and smoky voice as he blinked his watering eyes and struggled to see.

The woman who stood before him was an Amazon who towered more than six feet tall in her incredibly high-heeled black patent platform boots. Her hair fell black and straight to her wide hips, past a perfectly proportioned upper body with the most gigantic breasts he had ever seen. Her waist was nipped in sharply and her exaggerated torso was snugly nestled into a jet black rubber dress that ended halfway down her thighs, about four inches above the tops of her skin tight boots. Her hands and arms were concealed with opera length black latex gloves like those on Santa's own arms, and in one hand she held a foot-long cigarette holder with an ultra-long filtered cigarette already flaring in its end. She raised it and took a deep drag, letting the smoke slowly stream from the moue of her mouth. Her lips were well-formed and painted such a dark red that they almost seemed black against the porcelain whiteness of her skin, but they were so huge they appeared grotesque - like a parody of a normal woman's features.

The rest of her face was as exotically made up as her lips: razor thin eyebrows were painted in a high black arch high above her deep-set, heavy lidded eyes; her lashes were so extravagant they had to be fakes - and probably two full sets, at that; the dark rouge on her cheeks accentuated the height of her cheekbones, and made them appear immense mounds alongside the narrow snub of her nose.

Raven black bangs as straight as a gunshot ended just above the parabolas of her brows. Beneath them, her eyelids were layered in creamy white, azure and pale blue shades of eye shadow. Her dramatically large eyes had been thickly ringed with black liner, making them appear even larger against the paleness of her face.

"Well, Santa dear," the latex clad Amazon drawled as the last of the smoke drifted from her tiny nostrils. "You've certainly kept me waiting long enough. I wanted to save the last stage of your transformation for when you were awake. I wanted you to be conscious when I finished converting you into my slutty little latex maid!"

Santa spluttered, helplessly flexing his hands inside the tight black latex gloves.

"See here, Miss - I don't know who you are or what you think you are doing, but whatever it is, it has gone quite far enough," he stammered angrily. "This is Christmas Eve, blast it! I have gifts to deliver. You are keeping children waiting for their Christmas presents."

She stepped closer and bared perfect white teeth in a sneer of contempt.

"Shut your mouth, slut!" she said viciously, biting off the words with an edge of menace. "I know that my house was the last one on your route tonight! You've finished all your deliveries for this Christmas. I could keep you here as a prisoner indefinitely, and aside from the people at your North Pole workshop, nobody would realize you were gone until next December 25!"

She lifted his chin roughly with one latex-gloved hand, still smiling cruelly in her triumph. "As it is, if you behave yourself - and do EXACTLY as I say - I will release you in time to go back to your workshop and begin preparing for next year. Let's see - that would give me more than a week, wouldn't it?"

Santa sagged in his bonds. His artificially pushed up breasts rose and fell in a sad sigh of realization: she had him in her power, totally. His workshop elves had already gone on holiday hiatus when he left with this year's sleigh full of goodies. Work on next season's inventory would not begin until the second week of January. He was baffled at how she seemed to know his schedule so exactly.

"But my wife!" he spluttered desperately. "She - she'll be expecting me back. She will know something odd has happened and will send people out to look for me. You'll never get away with this - not even for a week!"

She dropped his chin and her smile grew even more terrible. "Ah, yes!" she said bitterly. "The little woman! The obedient, self-sacrificing Mrs. Claus - human doormat! Do you think I don't know she has gone to Florida to spend the entire month of January with her sister? Or did you forget she was gone yourself?"

She took another deep puff from her cigarette and blew a thin stream of smoke directly into his face, sending him into a fit of coughing.

He realized that she was right and hope fled entirely. Mrs. Claus had taken the Polar Express south that very morning before he left on his annual delivery rounds. He had been so consumed with his last minute preparations that he had not come to the North Pole station to see her off. As he remembered that Mrs. Claus would be gone for the next 35 days, he sagged again with resignation.

"So you had forgotten that little detail, had you?" the sleek, rubber-clad Amazon said with a nasty laugh. "How perfectly like you. So tied up in your own affairs, your own compulsive, self-important sense of duty, that you didn't even realize she wasn't going to be waiting up there for you. Not too surprising, really. The word has gotten around, Santa dear. You generally treat her like a piece of the North Pole furniture anyway. It's no wonder you forgot she was going to be gone."

She removed the cigarette from her holder and crushed it out beneath one of her jet black high-heeled boots with an impatient stamp of her foot.

"You can just forget about being rescued, slut," she said venomously. "You can forget all about your duties. I am going to give you some new duties to think about for the next few days - maybe even longer, if I choose. Instead of serving boys and girls all round the world, you can serve me as my own little latex maid. If you are a good little slut, I will give you your freedom. If not . . . well, in that case, you will get a lump of coal in your nylon stocking - and a night on my Iron Cross to ponder your disobedient, self-centered ways."

Santa did not know what an Iron Cross was, but it sounded unpleasant. He shuddered, and the china white flesh of his mounded "breasts" jiggled provocatively with the action.

The Amazon strode to a table on a far wall and opened a large box that was sitting on it. "But first, it's time to finish your transformation into my little slut handmaiden," she said with an unpleasant chuckle. "Time to say goodbye to Santa Claus, slave. Time for you to become Lola, my latex slave!"

She pulled what looked like a bust of a woman's head and shoulders from the box, except that this bust was painted in lifelike colors and had reddish blond hair that fell in cascades of loose curls down its back and shoulders. Reaching behind, she pulled down a hidden zipper and removed the "woman's" face and hair from the piece of statuary. Then she approached Santa menacingly, holding the wriggling mass in front of her and grinning with malice at his growing dread.

As she closed on him, he could see that the "skin" in her hands was a rubber mask, made to fit the wearer precisely from crown to shoulders. She shook it loose in front of his face and, grunting slightly with the effort, stretched it carefully over his head, pulling in spots to seat the thick, cold rubber over his own elfin features. As she roughly sheathed his head in the rubber garment, he realized that his beard had been shaven off while he was unconscious, and was vaguely aware that his hair had been cropped closely, too. He attempted to protest, but his murmurs were ignored as she fitted the tight rubber hood into place and pulled down the zipper at its rear, completely sealing him inside.

She brandished a tiny padlock before him, allowing him to get a good look at it through the eyeholes of the mask, then attached it at the rear of the hood with an ominous metallic click.

"There!" she said with satisfaction as she fluffed the mask's auburn tresses at the sides and back of Santa's completely concealed head. "Your own mother wouldn't recognize you now. Only I know where the key to that lock is. And believe me, no locksmith on Earth can break into it."

She held a hand mirror in front of his rubber-shrouded face so that he could see what she had done. A blandly beautiful female stared back at him impassively, with daintily painted lips of pink, long curling lashes and just enough rouge to give her cheeks a permanently embarrassed blush at her helplessly humiliated situation. Santa's light blue eyes were his only features that were actually visible through the mask, and they were so perfectly aligned with the eyeholes that they simply appeared to be part of a living woman's face.

Oddly, as he stared at his image, Santa found his new appearance oddly exciting. His genitalia, trapped under a pair of tight thick black rubber panties, gave a throb of sexual arousal inside their latex cocoon. The reflection that stared back at him seemed incredibly sexy, with pale skin and large rounded bosoms. He opened his mouth in surprise and was astonished to see the female face in the mirror mimic his action perfectly. He licked the mask's lips slowly, watching as the red tip of his tongue as it slid over the sensual dark pink rubber that covered his mouth. The image was somehow intoxicating!

The Amazon brandished a small black device with two silvery metal prongs in front of him before speaking again.

"This is a stun gun, slut," she said with a wicked grin. "It can give a 45,000 volt shock -- enough to knock a fully grown man to the ground and keep him there for several seconds. You are locked inside your corset. You are locked into your maid's shoes and your slutty maid's face. You cannot get out of this outfit, no matter how you try. There are no sharp-edged tools in this house that could be used for cutting, and all your rubber garments are much too thick to tear manually. I know that violence is not your way, but in case to attempt to struggle or escape, I will give you a jolt with the stun gun, and you will wake up locked in chains."

She slipped the weapon into a holster on a wide leather belt that hung low on her latex-clad hips, then unfastened the straps on his hands and legs.

"Get up, slut!" she hissed, beckoning with a latex covered finger. "I have many tasks for you to perform."

Santa stood up unsteadily on the teetering heels of his shoes and struggled to control the shaking of his long bound limbs. He inclined his head to the Amazon as a gesture of total supplication, and followed her out of his dungeon cell. As he walked through the doorway, he caught a glimpse of himself in a full-length mirror hanging on the wall. He could scarcely believe the reflection was his own.

The image in the glass was that of a tall, zaftig female, with massive swelling breasts, an impossibly slender waist and large hips. She teetered on a pair of ankle-strapped black patent leather shoes with six inch high heels. Her well-formed legs were smoothly covered with dark, seamed nylon stockings clipped to garters at the skirt of the heavy rubber corset that gave her delectable body its large but lovely shape. Her arms were gloved past her elbows, and her face was the very picture of innocence, framed by shoulder length strawberry blond curls.

With equal feelings of humiliation, dread and outright sexual excitement, Santa gave up hope of escaping. He was trapped inside his new persona: Lola, the Amazon's latex slut. But surprisingly enough, deep inside he was elated. This was something new, incredibly arousing and amazingly wonderful - something different from anything that had ever happened to him before. In a way, he gloried at his helplessness, and looked forward to being ordered around by the frightening but sexually exciting dominatrix that had taken him captive.

He decided that he would give himself over completely to this powerful and cruel woman. He would do whatever she demanded.

And, secretly, he knew he would enjoy it!

MOD PARENT UP!!! +1 INFORMATIVE! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041376)

Re:MOD PARENT UP!!! +1 INFORMATIVE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041402)

disgusting

send the autor to neverneverland! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041630)

maybe santa can give him an arse ramming for xmas

Who gets prize if they die on landing? (-1, Troll)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041263)

If space men are killed in such disaster, do they still win the prize, or only set the world-record for a memorial of their memory?

Re:Who gets prize if they die on landing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041377)

If they die, they don't win. They get nothing.

Re:Who gets prize if they die on landing? (3, Informative)

physicsnerd (607860) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041380)

No, if they are killed they do not win the prize. You have to sucessfully fly to an average height of 100km twice, and the craft must land intact. The prize is only for a pair of round trips. Not a one way.

Physicsnerd
_______________
"Even logic must give way to physics" - Spock

Armadillo's page recently updated too! (4, Interesting)

Lawmeister (201552) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041265)

Re:Armadillo's page recently updated too! (5, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041304)

Am I the only one who wouldn't ride in the black armadillo because of this section:

The crushable, aluminum nose cone neatly and systematically collapses into itself, decelerating the vehicle to a stop. The capsule then falls on its side to end the mission.

So let me get this straight. You're going to fire this thing into space and then it's going to land and crush like a beer can? Pass.

Re:Armadillo's page recently updated too! (5, Funny)

RabidOverYou (596396) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041406)

But ... but ... but ... according to your sig, you're a street walking cheetah, with a heart full of napalm. You're the runaway son of a nuclear A-bomb! Of course you'd do it! Else, you must retire your sig. No, I insist.

Re:Armadillo's page recently updated too! (1)

Rxke (644923) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041569)

maybe he's not searching to be destroyed...

Karma blow. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041953)

LOL!!!!!!

If I had mod points, this'd be +5 Funny already.

Into the /. quotebin.

Re:Armadillo's page recently updated too! (3, Informative)

zaneIO (606505) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041462)

here [armadilloaerospace.com] is a link to info about it and a link to a video [armadilloaerospace.com] of the tests.

Re:Armadillo's page recently updated too! (2, Insightful)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041708)

To be fair, it does have a parachute as well, it's just that even with a parachute you tend to be going at a reasonable speed (say, 20mph or so) when you land. This is why all the Apollo space capsules landed down in water.

I think the crushable nose is a good idea to soften the landing, if you're going to be landing on land.

Re:Armadillo's page recently updated too! (4, Funny)

kinnell (607819) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041731)

The crushable, aluminum nose cone neatly and systematically collapses into itself, decelerating the vehicle to a stop. The capsule then falls on its side to end the mission

This is why I'm rooting for armadillo aerospace - if they win, the history videos of the future will show a fat, cheap looking rocket crashing head first into the ground then falling over. It's about time history got a little comic relief :o)

Re:Armadillo's page recently updated too! (3, Funny)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041404)

it operates in a manner which can only be described as "ground breaking."

IANARS, however, I do believe there are breaking methods that that I would prefer if I was going along for the ride.

The profit is not in underpants. (3, Funny)

inertia@yahoo.com (156602) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041268)

1. Build nifty spacecraft for $20,000,000US
2. Maybe win $10,000,000US X-Prize
3. ???
4. Profit!

Re:The profit is not in underpants. (4, Insightful)

aiabx (36440) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041288)

You forgot the details:
3a) Take passengers for $50k rides.
3b) Licence technology
3c) Sell space planes for $5m.
-aiabx

Re:The profit is not in underpants. (2, Funny)

WEFUNK (471506) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041316)

Or you can sell space plane kit plans for $20 a pop by placing "tiny" ads in Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. Not that you need to win to do that...

Re:The profit is not in underpants. (2, Funny)

realdpk (116490) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041442)

I hear you can put tiny ads in all sorts of newspapers and magazines, but I think you have to move in to a tiny one bedroom apartment for it to work, and you have to have big teeth.

Re:The profit is not in underpants. (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041482)

And sell 10 million toy Scaled Composite rockets for $3-4 in licensing fees each...

Re:The profit is not in underpants. (1)

stiller (451878) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041661)

Not to mention:
3d) Be sponsored by Coca-Cola while being watched by tens of millions of people worldwide during your maiden voyage. Hasn't anyone here seen Deep Impact? (Ok, can't blame you for that.)

Re:The profit is not in underpants. (2, Funny)

BabyDave (575083) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041294)

Where '???' = 'Get twatface from N*Sync to be a passenger in your third flight, paying $20,000,000US'

Re:The profit is not in underpants. (0)

milkid7 (601453) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041678)

Sounds like a joke is in order:

What's a surefire way to make a small fortune with the X-Prize ?

First, you start with a LARGE fortune...

Re:The profit is not in underpants. (2, Funny)

arivanov (12034) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041820)

Have the US DOD sponsor you for life so you do not sell it to Clnl Cadaffi.

Actually, it will be for the second time. They already are paying. That is after Burt showed that he can develop and build a fully functional fighter jet on a 10M budget to cost under 2M a piece. Which also has a negligeable radar sig due to the fact that engine is one of the very few metal parts in it.

Nothing new here. Even no need for taking tourists. DOD will foot the bill. Once again...

Gay Nigger Shit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041271)

If you want gay nigger shit, slashdot is the right place.

Re:Gay Nigger Shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041331)

What would compel you to write such a moronic post ??
.
P.S. Slashdot is pretty fucking pathetic.

Try it yourself (5, Interesting)

GrubInCan (624096) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041278)

X-Plane [x-plane.com] v7.0beta has both aircraft (apparently Scaled Composites used it for their simulator)

Re:Try it yourself (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041322)

mmm...I don't fly in a airplane which is called X-Plane V7.0 BETA. Sounds pretty flakey to me.

Re:Try it yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041357)

That's the simulator you dimwit

Hey, cool so like ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041909)

... you guys know each other. Get a room already.

Huge things at stake (0, Troll)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041283)

In the contest to win the X Prize, there can be only one winner. The runner up wins the Darwin Award. Is Burt Rutan's entry X Prize worthy, or will he join the thousands of other people who've killed themselves spectacularly to win Darwin Awards?

Re:Huge things at stake (2, Insightful)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041363)

If not the Darwin Award the runner-ups will surely get worse, Aviation (or space travel depending on how you look at it) obscurity. Who remember's, without googling, other aviators that were competing against Linberg for the first non stop transatlantic flight.

Re:Huge things at stake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041556)

Googling counts. At least a record exists that they tried. Better to be remembered for trying and not succeeding than not to be remembered at all.

Re:Huge things at stake (4, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041441)

Rutan has a better track record than the rest of the competitors, combined.

Re:Huge things at stake (2, Insightful)

lnoble (471291) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041515)

The Darwin awards are about people killing themselves in a manner of utter stupidity and negligence to their own lives. The assumtion being that in doing so they better the human race by removing themselves from the gene pool. Those competing for the X Prize are far different, taking the utmost precaution in ensure the safty of the test pilots. This also isn't a life or death game. It's a race, and though more dangerous than most everyone still has the ability to cross the finish line, only the one to does it first wins the prize.

haha (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041284)

Reason: That's an awful long string of letters there
Reason: That's an awful long string of letters there
Reason: That's an awful long string of letters there

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X-Prize & Surreality (2, Interesting)

Merovign (557032) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041285)


Memorial day (observed) appears not to be the best time to be serious around here.

That being said, it's nice to see some progress on the X Prize, which is essentially a prize for the first successful civilian reusable space vehicle.

Personally I think the Rutans are going about this the wrong way, but they could still get the prize.

The pluses to the design are the high-altitude launch (elegant), and the low-speed entry (elegant).

The minuses as I see it are the relatively complex design, lack of cargo space, cost, unpowered landing. Oh, and the fact that it is very, very ugly.

A similar re-entry vehicle, but larger with powered maneuverability on re-entry, with a high-altitude balloon as a "first stage" would rock. And be cheaper. I'm not really sure how huge a balloon (hydrogen or helium) would have to be to drag something that big to the requisite altitude, especially if you intended to go beyond 100km. The second stage would be heavier, unless you had a new fuel or more efficient use of the fuel.

Re:X-Prize & Surreality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041343)

Oh, and the fact that it is very, very ugly.
I don't know about you, but I think the design is actually very very slick, certainly much nicer than anything I have seen before.

Re:X-Prize & Surreality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041444)

agreed.

besides, how does one decide if an airplane is "beautiful", "average looking" or "ugly"?

c'mon, I want specific criteria.

Re:X-Prize & Surreality (4, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041469)

Complex design? Airborne launch is well-proven technology. The spacecraft is very cleverly and elegantly designed. The vehicle has enough "cargo" space to carry three people. Or two people and 200lbs of cargo. It carries a lot more than my Miata, and my Miata is a damn useful vehicle. Although I don't want to hold up the Shuttle as a great design, it obviously does fine with unpowered landing. Carrying fuel for re-entry and landing is insanely expensive in terms of weight and vehicle size. Unless there's something mission critical that requires fuel during the landing evolution, you /really/ don't want to waste weight with it.

What do you base your cost estimates on?

Re:X-Prize & Surreality (4, Insightful)

maggard (5579) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041524)

The pluses to the design are the high-altitude launch (elegant), and the low-speed entry (elegant).
Agreed.
The minuses as I see it are the relatively complex design,
Compared to what? X-33? Personal jetpacks? NCC-X? Sure it could be brute-forced with a big block of steel and a coupla nukes but this whole thing is about design. Indeed this one looks simpler then most of the others once one gets over it not being designed by a T-square.
lack of cargo space,
It's not intended to be a tug. Rather it's a demo meeting the X-Pride criteria put together privately in two years. Pull out the seats if you want luggage. Besides, where would it bring cargo to?
cost,
Cheaper then most anything else. Heck, privately financed at that.
unpowered landing.
This is the beta version. Ruttan's got a long history with aircraft including unpowered or marginally-powered ones, I'm sure it'll land fine, seems to have worked well for the 99 ton SST.
Oh, and the fact that it is very, very ugly.
Oh, well yeah, that it doesn't jibe with your sense of aesthetics means it hasn't a chance. Howzabout you post your photo and the rest of us can predict your odds of success?
A similar re-entry vehicle, but larger with powered maneuverability on re-entry,
Why? 'Cause you want a commercial passenger service on the 1st flight? You've got some bias against unpowered landings?
with a high-altitude balloon as a "first stage" would rock.
Why? Kewler? I think the first flight succeeding would rock, not your backseat redesigning.
And be cheaper.
How? Helium costs y'know. And that balloon & helium wouldn't be recoverable. Plus the first meter off the ground under a big balloon is really hazardous, a heck of a lot more then a glider landing.

Besides, the White Night is also the trainer for the spacecraft. Yep, you heard me, they load a profile on computer in the WN and it flies the same as the spacecraft! Double duty saving lots of money.

I'm not really sure how huge a balloon (hydrogen or helium) would have to be to drag something that big to the requisite altitude, especially if you intended to go beyond 100km.
Big. The math isn't that hard for a rough but trust me, big. and expensive. And non-reusable. And a hazard afterwords.
The second stage would be heavier, unless you had a new fuel or more efficient use of the fuel.
Yeah, well now that you've pretty much trashed all the other engineering now you want, what, super rockets? Sure, we'll just use the ones off your Voltron doll...

How about just come out with it and admit you want Star Trek teleporters, forget this nasty uncomfortable dangerous test vehicle stuff? Hell I bet the thing doesn't even have in-flight service with a decent bar cart!

Frankly you come off as the the exact sort of useless US holiday poster you mention. Lots of inane second guessing, apparently no homework before reading one article, coming up with ridiculous requirements: Cargo? For a test vehicle? Meeting X-Prize criteria? Have you EVER been around ANY sort of engineering project?

Score you -3 for silly whiner.

Flight Testing of Buttons the Kitty-Cat (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041290)

Flight tests commenced this morning at 10:34 a.m. Impulse was provided by an initial angular momentum generated by securing Button's tail and swinging it around a central pivot point. Screeching noises were detected from the aircraft and increased proportionally with angular momentum. During this period, there were also some balancing irregularities apparently generated by radical flailings of the aircraft's appendages. As with the screeching noises, eccentricity of the aircraft's balance increased proportionally with the amount of angular momentum. (Suggest removal of said appendages following hopeful recovery of the aircraft.)

Aircraft became airborne at 10:36 as the tail was released with a slight vertical inclination. Initial ballistics calculation suggested Buttons would fly over the neighbour's fence; this proved to be true. Flight time estimated to be 3.5 seconds before aircraft went out of sight.

Just Ducky! (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041296)

"Mommy, what is that duck doing to the other duck?" [bbc.co.uk]

Seriously... you go, Burt - and all the other X-Prize teams, too.

On behalf of all of us cubicle-bound geeks looking at the stars, may you all show NASA what teams of dedicated engineers can do if given an environment in which... well, an environment in which dedicated engineers can do what dedicated engineers have always done in such an environment.

Re:Just Ducky! (1)

Migrant Programmer (19727) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041332)

may you all show NASA what teams of dedicated engineers can do if given an environment in which... well, an environment in which dedicated engineers can do what dedicated engineers have always done in such an environment.

Ow! You just broke my head!

Quick ! (-1, Offtopic)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041297)

Someone tell them their craft has been infected with a dalmation virus.

Optimism (2, Insightful)

Tancred (3904) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041307)

What a great thing, the X-Prize. Space flight will eventually be dominated by private enterprise anyway, and this accelerates it. I think it's important as a way to get younger generations excited about the future in the same way past generations were in the early days of space programs.

Space-travel industry. (3, Funny)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041329)

It'll be about private industry until United Spacelines and American Spacelines start losing too much money, and the space-citizens of the United Space-states of Earth have to shell out billions of space-dollars to keep them afloat. I mean, in orbit.

on the good side.. (-1, Offtopic)

McAddress (673660) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041314)

This craft does not use large pieces of foam

Re:on the good side.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041349)

knowing how Rutan builds things it most likely has a geat deal of foam under its skin.

just ask any Long-EZ owner/builder.

Big news, but no interest (5, Interesting)

knobmaker (523595) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041317)

Maybe I'm just early here, but it astonishes me that no one has posted a comment, except for trolls and ACs.

It's stuff like this that gives me hope that I'll live long enough to get a trip into space before I die. The government, as it usually does with everything it attempts, seems to have completely screwed up the exploration of space. It's been over 30 years since we sent a human being to another world, for heaven's sake.

I'm writing in Rutan for President in 2004. At least he's actually built something other than a portfolio.

Re:Big news, but no interest (1)

hellswraith (670687) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041450)

It's been over 30 years since we sent a human being to another world, for heaven's sake. Remind me, what world did we visit? I know we visited a satellite of earths called the moon, but I don't remember humans ever going to another world.

Re:Big news, but no interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041845)

>>>>Remind me, what world did we visit? I know we visited a satellite of earths called the moon, but I don't remember humans ever going to another world.

If you lived there, what would you call it? Your "satellite?"

Maybe you're confusing the word "world" with the word "planet." After all, the Earth is just a satellite of the sun. If you go by my old Funk & Wagnall's, the only planet that's a world is Earth. That seems fairly small-minded to me.

Re:Big news, but no interest (4, Interesting)

isorox (205688) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041465)

It's a sad fact that most slashdotters cry DARWIN at the first wound of anything thats slightly risky. They claim to want to progress in to space, but then when someone tries it, they just laugh. Perhaps its envy.

Re:Big news, but no interest (2, Insightful)

Saeger (456549) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041681)

It's a sad fact that some slashdotters still think slashdot is one homogenous group where every voice represents the whole. Perhaps its human nature to have risk-seeking-mutants and scoffing, scared-shitless-mutants in the same genepool.

--

Re:Big news, but no interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041536)

The things that the government does well are so integrated into our lives as to seem invisible. The government ensures that the ground beef you buy in the grocery store isn't ground rat, for example. Read Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" for a glimpse back into the golden age of free markets.

Government isn't the solution for everything, of course, but mindless government-bashing is just stupid.

President, no thanks (4, Insightful)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 11 years ago | (#6042031)

My only disagreement is with "Rutan for president". It's an insult to this great man to lump him in with an organization, government, whose whole existence is predicated on force and which can only fund itself by theft.

To the contrary it's the efforts of Mr Rutan and others like him which will finally put our species out of the reach of government.

Rutan can do it if anybody can (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041345)

Rutan has a very good track record in aircraft design, and can probably bring this off. He's designed many strangely-shaped aircraft, and they all fly well.

Of course, there's the problem that maybe he can, but nobody else can. This happens. Paul MacReady made human-powered flight work two decades ago. Nobody has done it since. Gregg Williams designed almost all the really small jet aircraft engines - he did his first one in the 1950s, and he designed the engines for cruise missiles, and he's still designing them. One person, Ed Kleinschmidt, designed all the mechanical teletype machines from the 1930s to the last one in the 1970s.

Re:Rutan can do it if anybody can (4, Funny)

Sanity (1431) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041517)

Paul MacReady made human-powered flight work two decades ago. Nobody has done it since. Gregg Williams designed almost all the really small jet aircraft engines - he did his first one in the 1950s, and he designed the engines for cruise missiles, and he's still designing them. One person, Ed Kleinschmidt, designed all the mechanical teletype machines from the 1930s to the last one in the 1970s.
Clearly all of these people subscribe to the Perl doctrine of job preservation: "If nobody else can figure out how it works - they can't fire you".

Re:Rutan can do it if anybody can (1)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041770)

Clearly all of these people subscribe to the Perl doctrine of job preservation: "If nobody else can figure out how it works - they can't fire you".

Yeah, but you can't be promoted either...

The question becomes whether or not Rutan can do it, and then teach others how to do the same thing....

Re:Rutan can do it if anybody can (1)

torpor (458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041936)

Is it teaching, or is it just inspiration?

You can't do what Rutan does without having serious doctrine, and amazing capital. I only hope this becomes apparent to those he inspires, fast.

Maybe we will get a chance at anti-g before we die.

Re:Rutan can do it if anybody can (1)

jayrtfm (148260) | more than 11 years ago | (#6042005)

>>Paul MacReady made human-powered flight work two decades ago. Nobody has done it since.

Ha anyone else WANTED to? Human powered flight is kinda impractical.

>>Williams designed almost all the really small jet aircraft engines - he did his first one in the 1950s, and he designed the engines for cruise missiles, and he's still designing them.

from the bits that I've come across, I think that a lot of his basic tech is still classified or isn't allowed for civilian use.

Rutan rules! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041350)

Rutan amazes me.. I mean, he has an interest in aircraft, then goes out and designs builds tons of them, makes a business out of it, sets all sorts of records, and so on. All with sideburns! He rules!

-J

Nitrous Oxide and Rubber? (1, Interesting)

salimfadhley (565599) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041365)

Quote from the BBC Article: "SpaceShipOne will then fire its hybrid rocket engine, fuelled by a mixture of nitrous oxide and rubber, to reach the blackness of space."

Surely this is a typo? Nobody uses rubber as a rocket fuel... unless this is a new kind of rubber that is completely diferent to the stretchy, boingy stuff?

Re:Nitrous Oxide and Rubber? (5, Funny)

farnerup (608326) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041401)

It's a hybrid: half rocket engine, half rubber band attached to a propeller.

Re:Nitrous Oxide and Rubber? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041417)

It's not a typo. And from what i know no one else uses it, but it seems to work.

Yes! Rubber! (5, Informative)

Gharlane of Eddore (676106) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041420)

From an article on KMSB-TV [kmsb.com] This history of space missions has been written with solid- or liquid-fuel rockets. Solid-fuel rockets are simple, reliable and inexpensive, but thrust at only one speed, can't be shut down, and produce toxic exhaust. Liquid-fuel rockets can be throttled to control thrust and turned off and on, but are highly complex and less reliable. Hybrid technology combines the advantages of both types of fuel, but can be made more cheaply and with more environmentally benign materials, said Brad Linenberger, a senior in aerospace and mechanical engineering. "The components themselves are safer, because the solid fuel is basically tire rubber and the liquid fuel is nitrous oxide, which is just laughing gas" liquefied under pressure, Linenberger said. "The stuff they put in solid rockets to keep them burning, you don't want to be inhaling that stuff."

Re:Yes! Rubber! (1)

pacc (163090) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041512)

"environmentally benign materials"

For the sake of the environment burn tires instead :)

Re:Yes! Rubber! (1)

random_static (604731) | more than 11 years ago | (#6042011)

burn 'em with a good oxidizer (like liquid nitrous) at high enough temperatures, and tires too will be mostly just another source of clean-burning hydrocarbons. the exhaust should be mostly water, CO2, N2 and little else.

Re:Nitrous Oxide and Rubber? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041425)

Nope, rubber is correct. Look into it, it's quite a neat sollution.

Re:Nitrous Oxide and Rubber? (2, Informative)

seth_k (667214) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041464)

Almost anything will burn if you supply oxygen at a high enough of a concentration/pressure. I remember a college lab were we made a test rocket engine out of a cylinder of acrylic with a hole bored down the center and hooked up to an oxygen tank. I know its sounds odd, but it does work. This seems of be using the same principles with a different fuel/oxidizer.

Re:Nitrous Oxide and Rubber? (2, Informative)

nietsch (112711) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041511)

Not quite true: these fuels are used in a hybrid fuel enigine. The benefits are an enigne that isn't very explosive, has easy storage and can be throttled back. Liquid fuel or solid fuel engines don't have both of these properties.
Rubber is used because of it's high carbon content, nitrous oxide is used because it stores easier than liquid oxide.

Of course it's a typo (2, Funny)

AvantLegion (595806) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041620)

urely this is a typo? Nobody uses rubber as a rocket fuel... unless this is a new kind of rubber that is completely diferent to the stretchy, boingy stuff?

They meant to put flubber.

Re:Of course it's a typo (1)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041958)

If they used flubber, they wouldn't have any need for fuel. Just make the ship out of the stuff, then drop it onto terra firma from the tow plane; it'll then bounce into space.

Re:Nitrous Oxide and Rubber? (3, Informative)

Gorobei (127755) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041959)

um, what do you think solid rocket fuel (i.e. the stuff used in the space shuttle's booster) is? It's basically rubber with an oxider and some metal powders.

The stuff that reacts with the oxygen in most of these rocket engines is a hydrocarbon: rubber, plastics, asphalt, kerosene, etc.

Seven minutes in heaven (3, Funny)

endquotedotcom (557632) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041448)

From the BBC article: "SpaceShipOne will start its mission with a climb to 50,000ft under the twin-engined White Knight. SpaceShipOne will then fire its hybrid rocket engine, fuelled by a mixture of nitrous oxide and rubber, to reach the blackness of space.

"After experiencing weightlessness at the top of its trajectory, the ship will extend its wings and tail and glide back to the runway that it left 90 minutes earlier."

Okay, so we have a plane with a "spaceship" under it, and we're going to go up real high and then fling it up into what's just barely "space," and watch it fall down. So you'll actually be in "space" for just a few minutes? No orbiting around and trying to see if you can find your house from up there? How much fun is this really, when the majority of your time is spent screaming your head off as you fall back to Earth? Maybe the inflight meal will be really good.

Re:Seven minutes in heaven (2, Funny)

Katalyzt (546182) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041613)

guess which suitably named game will be available for the crew of three to play during the flight onboard John Carmack's Black Aramdillo.

Re:Seven minutes in heaven (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041688)

Seven minutes to heaven?

Re:Seven minutes in heaven (2, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041891)

That is called proof of concept silly.

And the interesting bit conceptually is not the spaceship. It is the White Knight.

Multiple attempts have been made in the past to use planes as a launch platform. Most have gone nowhere because a general purpose plane cannot reach altitude and or speed to replace a proper stage 1 rocket.

Only exemption seemed to be a project to use russian backfire class supersonic bombers and the second stage of some american missile (forgot which one). Unfortunately it died off due to lack of funding, agreement, etc. Otherwise it had a chance as the backfire has both the thrust and operating ceiling to do this.

Anyway, the backfire project is apparently dead. So this seems to be the only game in town in terms of proving that the 60 years old "rocket on top of a rocket" design can now be abandoned in favour of something more environmentally and economically sound.

we need research into fuel tech as well (2, Interesting)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041466)

we need a fuel that can burn more efficently, is lighter and provideds more thrust than current fules out there. that way we can have smallercrafts that might be able to employ an all in one solution with a Ram jet taking it up to high altitueds and speeds then the rocket is lite to take it into orbit...perhaps even a high orbit.

Payload? (1)

EMH_Mark3 (305983) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041486)

How much payload would SpaceShipOne be able to take into orbit?

Re:Payload? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041663)

3 people or 2 people and 200 lb

Who to root for? (2, Interesting)

Dstrct0 (442821) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041538)

The whole idea of the X-Prize is great, and I love what it is going to do to the space travel industry.

The only problem I'm having is figuring out who to root for :)

The Black Armadillo is definitely starting to take shape, it looks a lot better lately than the first time I remember checking it out. Using an environmentally friendly fuel is brilliant, and possibly my favourite thing about the way Carmack and his crew are going about this project.

The White Knight and SS1 look slick. There's no other word for it. I'd expect to find a ship like that in anime, but not real life!

I hope Armadillo takes the prize money, but I wish (eventual) success to all teams involved.

I firmly believe that getting private citizens/companies into space travel is the best way to get the human race to the next level of space exploration, and I can't wait to see the end results!

Congratulations on all the progress so far guys!

Who is everyone else cheering for?

Why space tourism is not a good idea (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041572)

Space tourism is a horrible idea. People are only fascinated by space because of a glut of bad science fiction that has proliferated in the past 50 years. Now, people are willing to put their lives at risk to fulfill some childish fantasy. It is sad to see people wasting all this energy on useless pursuits when it is far better spent feeding the poor and fighting for justice. Isn't there enough suffering in the world? Do we really need more headlines showing obituarial photos of a dozen "brave" american astronaut-wannabes who died because one of the ground control engineers watched a little too much Star Trek and read 1 too few books on aerodynamics?

Re:Why space tourism is not a good idea (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041668)

you are a fool. the Destany of Humans is to explore Deep space and have interplanetry travel....we will be able to exploid the riches of our solar system soon and perhaps in 100 years we will have cities on mars and the moon (though they might be analogus to Mining towns of the old west...mostly populated with workers.

Re:Why space tourism is not a good idea (1)

Tancred (3904) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041924)

Troll. First off, there's been lots of good science fiction as well. Second, some people have always been willing to put their lives at risk for things they're passionate about, and it's not (always) a childish thing. We owe them our thanks. Third, feeding the poor and pushing the limits of human knowlege are not mutually exclusive ideas. Fourth, there's plenty of suffering in the world, but there are plenty of other things to point your finger at than space exploration. Fifth, it sounds like you've got a problem with media coverage of space tragedies. Might I suggest alternative media? Sixth, if you can do it better than NASA, I'm sure some X Prize teams want to talk to you. Then again, you've probably spent a little too much time blathering on Slashdot and too little time reading about aerodynamics.

Re:Why space tourism is not a good idea (2, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041957)

Rutan has read enough books on aerodynamics.

Actually he has the most impressive track record of any living aircraft designer. Only a few dead people like Toupolev and one of the McDonnel-Douglas guys come close in terms of closeness of the design and concept to a working plane (and the lack of rows of pictures dead test pilots in the briefing room).

It is also not about tourists. All space agencies have no research budget to work on new concepts. They can barely operate what they have got with what they are given. So they are entrenched and new things can come only from small private ventures.

A good example is the launch from floating platforms. The idea has been on the table for ages and still no space agency has made it happen. It took an outsider to break the entrenchment.

Re:Why space tourism is not a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6042051)

Dear fellow anonymous coward:

When the earth overcrowds, runs out of resources, and is incinerated by the aging sun simultaneously because a few bureaucrats a few eons ago couldn't get their asses in gear and start working towards an efficient means to leave the planet, don't complain.

Assertively,
Anonymous Coward

More photos at Pournelle's web site (4, Informative)

chroma (33185) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041590)

Jerry Pournelle posted some more photos on his web site a couple days ago: http://jerrypournelle.com/view/view258.html#SS1 [jerrypournelle.com]

Mustangs! (1)

rjoseph (159458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041675)

Burt Rutan is a graduate of the AERO department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo! [calpoly.edu] Go Poly!

date of first flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6041901)

does anyone noticed, in the bbc article, they say they are aiming for a first flight in december, that's pretty close!

Even if this fails... (2, Informative)

tycheung (635707) | more than 11 years ago | (#6041908)

Rutan still has some nifty defense dept. contracts. Scaled Composites created the airframe for the Boeing X-45 UCAV, and I'd bet they probably have a hand in a lot of the other UCAV's too. They have more experience than anyone else when it comes to lightweight, composite material aircraft construction.
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