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Canadian X-Prize Entry Gearing Up

michael posted about 10 years ago | from the hold-your-breath,-eh dept.

Space 147

lommer writes "The Globe and Mail has a piece up about the Canadian Da Vinci team which is making a bid for the X-prize. The team has finalized a launch location (Kindersley, Saskatchewan) and will announce a launch date this month. Meanwhile, Burt Rutan and Co. over at Scaled Composites appear to be back on track with a succesful test flight on March 11 after their December crash. One has to wonder, with launch dates being set, will some projects step up and attempt a flight without being fully ready for it?"

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147 comments

Canadian Beer sucks! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785377)

nuff said.

Re:Canadian Beer sucks! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785411)

What are you trying to do? Start a war [imdb.com] ?

Canadian Beer rules (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785418)

Notice: Molson "Canadian" isn't.

Re:Canadian Beer sucks! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785803)

and America just plain Sucks! so go fuck yourself

Blast off thong (5, Funny)

morcheeba (260908) | about 10 years ago | (#8785381)

I've got to give them credit for creative funding! [cafeshops.com]

Re:Blast off thong (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 10 years ago | (#8785489)

Could be worse, they could have sponsorship from the Jackass movie people.

"Do you have anything in a delta-V style?"

Re:Blast off thong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785640)

i expected to see some funny things about the typo in the subject line, then i realized this is slashdot. and you probably do not realize the hotness of a thong when an attractive female wears one, or even what a thong is as an article of clothing one wears as underwear worn by horny girls. what was i thinking?!

Re:Blast off thong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785717)

you've gotta love this:
This product is designed to fit juniors. It fits snug, sizes run small.
what is the world comming to? juniour sized thongs...

Carmack (4, Funny)

stratjakt (596332) | about 10 years ago | (#8785385)

Carmack should just strap someone into his space ship, and plow em into the side of a mountain or explode them off the pad or whatever.

End this spaceman nonsense once and for all, and get back to work finishing Doom 3.

Re:Carmack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785586)

I wouldn't worry too much about Doom 3, it's coming out as planned this year, unlike Half Life 2, which we don't know.

Re:Carmack (5, Funny)

thebatlab (468898) | about 10 years ago | (#8785598)

Holy crapoly. Insightful? Mods sniffing glue again or what? It's funny. Laugh. Don't take it as a life altering statement. "Dude, that idea is so...what's the word....oh sweet there it is in the dropdown man....in..sight..ful. Sweet man. *sniiiiffff*"

Re:Carmack (0, Offtopic)

fucksl4shd0t (630000) | about 10 years ago | (#8785836)

Shit, the mods must be smoking something to give that guy an insightful. Can we meta-mod the mod itself yet? That gets a +1, Funny Mod, easily.

(hoping to get an insightful mod for nothing just like the parent poster)

Re:Carmack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8786101)

I wish I could mod this funny right now ;)

First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785387)

First Post! HAHAHA

Don't forget... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785398)

..to pay your $699 licensing fee you tea-smoking cockbaggers.

Huh? (3, Interesting)

Iscariot_ (166362) | about 10 years ago | (#8785405)

One has to wonder, with launch dates being set, will some projects step up and attempt a flight without being fully ready for it?

Will any of them really be ready for it?

Re:Huh? (2, Informative)

Carnildo (712617) | about 10 years ago | (#8785711)

Will any of them really be ready for it?

I think Scaled Composites could launch tomorrow if they wanted to. They've got the full system working, they're just going slowly to make sure nothing unexpected crops up.

Don't worry too much (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#8785416)

Rutan still has a *long* way to go. His craft has only made it up ~20km. That leaves him with about 80km to go. When he has more km behind him instead than ahead of him, then we'll talk.

Re:Don't worry too much (2, Insightful)

pe1rxq (141710) | about 10 years ago | (#8785431)

On the bright side, he is one of the few to have an actuall live size vehicel flying....

Jeroen

Re:Don't worry too much (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#8785473)

True. His primary competition is from Armadillo. Armadillo could probably launch tomorrow, and maybe even be lucky enough to complete the flight. But they're taking the wise course, and getting the bugs worked out of their system first. :-)

Re:Don't worry too much (1)

tgd (2822) | about 10 years ago | (#8785643)

I thought Armadillo was still stuck in the "testing the motors" phase.

Do they have a spacecraft at all?

Re:Don't worry too much (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#8785742)

I thought Armadillo was still stuck in the "testing the motors" phase.

Do they have a spacecraft at all?


Spoken like someone who hasn't been paying attention. Right now, they're testing the *big motors*. i.e. The one's that are going on the full sized craft. And they're testing them both bolted to the ground, and with captive tests of the craft. Once they get some of the engine kinks worked out and finally work out a control board they can rely on, they'll be ready to fly. Go check out the videos on their site. You can see the big armadillo craft in some of them.

Re:Don't worry too much (1)

fucksl4shd0t (630000) | about 10 years ago | (#8785858)

Spoken like someone who hasn't been paying attention. Right now, they're testing the *big motors*. i.e. The one's that are going on the full sized craft. And they're testing them both bolted to the ground, and with captive tests of the craft. Once they get some of the engine kinks worked out and finally work out a control board they can rely on, they'll be ready to fly. Go check out the videos on their site. You can see the big armadillo craft in some of them.

Not to mention that they've been doing parallel development anyway, working on the small craft to build the software and building the large one at the same time. Theoretically anyway, they could find themselves with a large ship ready to go and the software being finalized at the same time and then they could launch the same day, or whatever.

I admit I haven't checked their site in a little while, though, so I don't know exactly where they're at today.

Something's going on at Scaled (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | about 10 years ago | (#8785618)

They added the heat resistant leading edge to the wings in response to the December flight. That cost them 3 months. Prior to the Dec 11 flight, they'd been going up on a fairly routine basis. Now, it's been almost a month since they glide-tested the new edges and they haven't flown since. Either the new edges gave them some undesired flight charateristics or possibly, they're worried about the effect of an unprotected belly as they try to return from 100k up.

Whatever it is, something's got them held up. If they were as open as Carmack has been, we'd all have a better idea as to what it is.

Re:Something's going on at Scaled (2, Interesting)

second class skygod (242575) | about 10 years ago | (#8785951)

I believe that most of the 3 month delay was for the repair of the landing gear and airframe after the first powered flight. If anything is holding them up lately, it's probably the other projects they've got going (like the GlobalFlyer).

-- scsg

Re:Don't worry too much (2, Interesting)

second class skygod (242575) | about 10 years ago | (#8785792)

Not far at all really. The powered flight to 20km was flown with essentially the same hardware (engines, tanks, airframe, etc.) as they will take to 100km. It seems to me that the only major step remaining is to fill the tanks to the top an let 'er rip. Of course, they are easing into to it for safety's sake. My money is on Rutan's team.

-scsg

Re:Don't worry too much (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#8786457)

It seems to me that the only major step remaining is to fill the tanks to the top an let 'er rip.

You're making a key assumption here: That the tanks, engines, and airframe are all proven for an 80+ kilometer ascent and 100 km descent. So far these tests are trying to determine whether that assumption is correct or not. Applying Murphy's Law, they'll probably need to build a new version of the craft before they'll be able to fly the craft.

Re:Don't worry too much (4, Informative)

peacefinder (469349) | about 10 years ago | (#8786449)

I've been paying more attention to Scaled than to Armadillo, so any comparison I make of their relative capabilities should be taken with some salt. That said, it looks to me that Scaled is currently closer than Armadillo. Their 20km is about 19.99km higher than Armadillo, so it's nothing to sneeze at.

Scaled has flown their vehicle under power, and to supersonic speeds. Apparently all non-propulsion systems are fully flight-qualified. They have ground-tested their rocket for the full duration necessary for an X-Prize flight, and fired it in flight for a short duration. The initial supersonic flight of SS1 appears to have been a complete success, except for the scrape they got on landing. That damage is now repaired, and they have flown again since, albeit unpowered. They're not nearly as open about what they're doing as Armadillo, though. They may well have taken another flight or two and not announced it yet. It wouldn't surprise me much if they actually accomplish a 100km flight before announcing that they're ready to fly for the prize.

Armadillo, on the other hand, does not yet have reliably relighting engines, which is kind of a big deal for them. (Or they didn't have 'em a couple weeks ago, anyway.) Given that their vehicle design makes this a life-safety issue, I expect they're gonna need many tests to validate their operation before they do a manned flight over 50 feet. Once they're ready to do that, they will still need to do enough test flights to ensure they understand the vehicle enough to try for the prize.

I think Armadillo's got an excellent shot at making a 100km flight, but I don't think they're going to beat Scaled. It's too bad about their previous fuel difficulties; that cost them a lot of time, and it looks to me that the delay may have cost them the prize.

Why 100km? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785419)

Why did they use a height in kilometers for the X-Prize!? What is it with these vile french metric units?

Couldn't they have used proper honest American measurements? I know what a mile is. Is a km more or less than that!? American was an American invention! Can't people respect that and use American measurements as a mark of respect?

Of course! (5, Insightful)

Midnight Ryder (116189) | about 10 years ago | (#8785425)

One has to wonder, with launch dates being set, will some projects step up and attempt a flight without being fully ready for it?

Of course - this sort of venture always comes with risk, and one of 'em is pushing your timetable up because the other guy looks like he's about to win. Given what happens when you screw up with space flight, I'd expect to see a fatality or two occur in the next couple o' years.

And one should keep in mind: It's all fun and games until someone gets killed. Then it's a SPORT! :-)

Re:Of course! (3, Informative)

sploxx (622853) | about 10 years ago | (#8785526)

For this reason, in germany there is the proverb "Sport ist Mord" which translates to "sport is murder".

Re:Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785601)

Then it's a SPORT!

In this case, I think it would be fair to call it an eXtreme sport.

Re:Of course! (1)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 10 years ago | (#8786019)

Then I guess golf is an eXtreme sport, because
people have died playing golf (and not just
from old age). You would be hard pressed to find
anything which includes people and/or things moving
at a high rate of speed that hasn't killed someone.

canadians (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785429)

they are really funny people to laugh at and make fun of

Cue the Thunderbirds theme! (2, Insightful)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 10 years ago | (#8785436)

X-Birds are go!

All these various projects gearing up is excellent, hopefully with one successfully taking the prize. (I only hope the rest don't just pack it in when one team wins.) Woohoo!

THANKS SLASHDOT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785477)

2004-04-06 15:28:35 Canadian Hot Air Baloon to try for X Prize (articles,space) (rejected)

Re:THANKS SLASHDOT (0, Offtopic)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 10 years ago | (#8785534)

2002-11-14 10:42:33 Shooting for the X Prize (articles,space) (rejected)

So there, pphhhfft!

Re:THANKS SLASHDOT (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785621)

1992-12-17 08:31:47 Canadians to shoot for X Prize in ten years (articles,space,nostradamus) (rejected)

Re:THANKS SLASHDOT (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785860)

1566-7-02 01:32:00 The north bird does not beat the karmic force (quatrain,space,nostradamus) (rejected)

Re:THANKS SLASHDOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785632)

* 2004-04-01 19:52:07 Don't forget... (articles,linux) (rejected)

Summary:

* rejected (1)

Excellent (1)

rigga (600504) | about 10 years ago | (#8785481)

I live about 2 hours away. I think that I will be attending. Not sure what kind of a show will be put on. But I am quite sure that this may be a once in a lifetime oportunity. Well hopefully another launch 2 weeks later.

To far North for Intra Orbit Trajectory... (1, Insightful)

SawChain (717980) | about 10 years ago | (#8785577)

Who picked Saskatchewan as a launch site??

Don't they understand that the closer to the equator they are, the greater the natural velocity of the vessel? By picking a trajectory so far North, they will have to burn more fuel to get the vehicle up to a speed which they would've gotten for free if they started somewhere closer to the equator.

The rotation of the Earth could help 'fling' the craft into the air, but instead, by going so far North, it's just going to help the craft spin (imaging launching a craft from the North pole...the rocket would be naturally spinning as it left the ground).

Re:To far North for Intra Orbit Trajectory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785692)

I have heard of that, but maybe it depends on how you're launching anyway? Perhaps their form of rocket/launch could not take advantage of the spin?

The USSR got into space first and I believe their launch site was as north or more than this Saskatchewan site.

Re:To far North for Intra Orbit Trajectory... (3, Informative)

eutychus_awakes (607787) | about 10 years ago | (#8785747)

Ya don't have to orbit to win the X-Prize. Ya just have to blast off and land, and do it again in two weeks.

Re:To far North for Intra Orbit Trajectory... (2, Interesting)

Carnildo (712617) | about 10 years ago | (#8785755)

Who picked Saskatchewan as a launch site??

Don't they understand that the closer to the equator they are, the greater the natural velocity of the vessel? By picking a trajectory so far North, they will have to burn more fuel to get the vehicle up to a speed which they would've gotten for free if they started somewhere closer to the equator.


This only applies if you're going for orbit. For an up-and-down suborbital flight, no place has a particular advantage over any other. (Slight exception: Launching from a mountaintop will reduce the height you need to reach by a bit)

Re:To far North for Intra Orbit Trajectory... (4, Informative)

gordguide (307383) | about 10 years ago | (#8786517)

Good flying weather; clear cloudless skys, most sunshine hours in North America (1), and a little less atmosphere the closer you get to the poles, gives a nice, wide launch window.

Same reason why 80,000 US pilots trained there in WWII, and many NATO nations train there now.

(1) Note; there are a few places with comparable or perhaps a bit more sunshine over 12 months, due to less sun in winter as you go further north. For the summer months, with even longer days, it's way more than anywhere in N America.

The answer is obvious (4, Funny)

nizo (81281) | about 10 years ago | (#8785507)

with launch dates being set, will some projects step up and attempt a flight without being fully ready for it?
Only once.....

Re:The answer is obvious (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785602)

Who cares? It's not like actual people will die, only Canadians.

What is the X-Prize? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785550)

What is it?

Re:What is the X-Prize? (2, Funny)

cptgrudge (177113) | about 10 years ago | (#8785872)

What is it?

What is it? Read a few links to inform yourself. What I really want to know is why this conspiracy keeps continuing. You know the one I'm talking about. Canada. Canada doesn't really exist. Want proof? Let me show you.

A few questions about Canada:

But I can see Canada! It's on our maps!
Ah, yes. You have been brainwashed by the governments of the world with their lies. Without the help of so called "map experts", would you really know what you were looking at? It could be Alaska for all you know. It could have been imposed on a gullible world at many times in history. From the beginning of the so-called "New World", people have been convinced that Canada exists.

Don't all of these experts agree that Canada exists?
Yes, they do, but should one be suspicious of such overwhelming agreement? Obviously they are trying to hide something. Would an individual student that talks of such a topic in a school be awarded a degree for talking such "nonsense"? No, he/she would be ostracized by classmates. And so, the groupthink makes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Who would ever want to perpetrate such a hoax?
It's hard to say how many have played a part in this conspiracy over time, but the primary players are easy to spot. The US government, of course, has played its own role in the hoax. They even invaded "Canada" at one point in their history to build nationalistic pride, even though the US "lost" that war. Imagine how easy it was to start the hoax back then, with no TV or radio, only newspaper articles that were hopelessly out of date! People all over the world simply assume that Canada exists now, and that is something that governments, both official and secret, can hold over the people.

And so, now that you know, can anyone come forth with proof that Canada exists?

(This post was based loosely on this website [revisionism.nl] .)

Re:What is the X-Prize? (1)

Doctor Crumb (737936) | about 10 years ago | (#8786317)

Does that mean I as a Canadian am a figment of someone's imagination? Sweet! Time to download more mp3s, since they can't sue a nonexistent person!

Re:What is the X-Prize? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8786540)

Actually, you already can.

http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/03/31/canada/downlo ad_court040331 [www.cbc.ca]
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/internet/downloa ding_music.html [www.cbc.ca]

Federal Court of Canada Justice Konrad von Finckenstien's March 31 ruling on downloading music from the internet was seen as a major setback by the music industry and a victory by internet service providers.

The Canadian Recording Industry Association wanted a court order to identify 29 uploaders that CRIA claims illegally posted hundreds of songs on the internet. Finckenstein refused and without the names, CRIA cannot take legal action for damages.

"No evidence was presented that the alleged infringers either distributed or authorized the reproduction of sound recordings," von Finckenstein wrote in his 28-page ruling. "They merely placed personal copies into their shared directories which were accessible by other computer users via a P2P service."

The ruling stipulates that:

* Downloading a song for personal use is not an infringement.

* Placing a song in an on-line music-sharing directory such as Kazaa is not considered distribution.

Re:What is the X-Prize? (1, Funny)

AnimeFreak (223792) | about 10 years ago | (#8786332)

And so, now that you know, can anyone come forth with proof that Canada exists?

Hi.

(From Vancouver, British Columbia)

Launching from Saskatchewan? (4, Insightful)

capz loc (752940) | about 10 years ago | (#8785552)

I understand the impracticalities of leaving Canada to launch, but it is my understanding that the reasons that NASA has headquarters in the south of the U.S. (Florida and Texas) is that the rotation of the earth, especially close to the equator, has significant velocity that the shuttles use as a "boost."

Re:Launching from Saskatchewan? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785609)

Ah, but this is the beauty of the XPrize. You aren't required to reach orbit, just a certain altitude.

Hence, launching anywhere works!

Re:Launching from Saskatchewan? (1)

dustinbarbour (721795) | about 10 years ago | (#8785663)

Yes, the closer you are to the equator the less fuel it will take to power a rocket into orbit. Basically, when a solid object is spinning on any given axis, all points on the object have the same angular velocity. However, the parts furthest from the axis of rotation must be spinning faster to maintain that angular velocity at that point. Go outside and spin a basketball or something on your driveway. You can witness the phenomenon right there.

This increased velocity is utilized by space agencies to save a bit on gas.

Re:Launching from Saskatchewan? (1)

los furtive (232491) | about 10 years ago | (#8786062)

My guess is that since they are only trying to acheive sub-orbital flight, that it doesn't factor into it as much. Burning fuel isn't as much of a concern because there is no need to achieve excape velocity.

Re:Launching from Saskatchewan? (2, Funny)

Tool Man (9826) | about 10 years ago | (#8785714)

The answer is simple, really. They don't want to hit anything! *duck*

Re:Launching from Saskatchewan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785733)

Only if you want to get into orbit. Adding the Earth's spin to your starting velocity helps a lot when you're nearer to the Equator. Think of standing on a turntable record: You're going faster at the edge of the record (the 'equator' when viewing Earth from the pole) than the middle or center.

The X-prize is just altitude. The challenge here isn't getting all the way into orbit, it's just to momentarily touch the edge of space. ...granted, that's a pretty big 'just'.

Further north is cheaper for polar orbits. (1)

Jason Pollock (45537) | about 10 years ago | (#8785799)

I've read that it depends on the orbit you are hoping to achieve. If you are looking to get into an equatorial, geosynchronous orbit, it's best done from the equator.

Polar orbits, however, get little to no benefit from the location of the launch site. That's why places like Churchill Manitoba can look good for rocket launches...

Reference 1 [spacecentre.no]

Jason Pollock

Re:Further north is cheaper for polar orbits. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8786534)

Polar orbits, however, get little to no benefit from the location of the launch site.

Actually, for polar orbits it is kinematically better to launch further from the equator, since you don't need to fight the Earth's rotation. That's the reason that the US built a Space Shuttle launch complex [aero.org] at Vandenberg AFB. Space shuttles were never launched from there, partly due to the Challenger disaster.

Re:Launching from Saskatchewan? (3, Funny)

elsilver (85140) | about 10 years ago | (#8785856)

The other advantage of launching from south east US, is that if anything goes wrong, the craft is likely to crash into the ocean, rather than a populated area.

Although devoid of oceans, Saskatchewan is fortunately also devoid of populated areas too.

E.

Re:Launching from Saskatchewan? (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | about 10 years ago | (#8786182)


Having seen the original Apollo launch maps, the roughly triangular area described across the Atlantic from Cape Canaveral to just short of the African coast is termed "downrange" (similar to a ballistic firing range).

Florida was chosen for the south-eastern launch point, lack of appreciable downrange civilization, and then lack of surrounding civilization. There are a few islands scattered around the range, but the chances of hitting one (unintentionally) is pretty small. Likewise, if the rocket were to blow on the pad or shortly thereafter, only launch personnel are in danger from debris. It's really hard to burn salt water and sand....

I lived in Cocoa Beach during the Apollo era, next door to Patrick AFB. We used to watch the launches (both civilian and the "unannounced" military launches from our back yard patio).

Re:Launching from Saskatchewan? (4, Informative)

saskboy (600063) | about 10 years ago | (#8786191)

Although you may have said that tongue in cheek, a great many /. readers might take you at your word. 2 cities of over 200K people is hardly an area devoid of population. It is only the northern half of the province that is covered with lakes and trees that is really deviod of all but a few hundred or thousand humans.

Re:Launching from Saskatchewan? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 10 years ago | (#8785967)

my understanding that the reasons that NASA has headquarters in the south of the U.S. (Florida and Texas) is that the rotation of the earth [..]

What makes you think that all the money spent in those states had much to do with engineering or physics? ;^)

I FUCKING HATE FAGGOTS (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785564)

this means you

Re:I FUCKING HATE FAGGOTS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785658)

"fucking hate"... does that mean that you have like, really ANGRY sex with them?

Just curious

If the location sounds familiar to people... (2, Informative)

saskboy (600063) | about 10 years ago | (#8785572)

It is because Saskatchewan is an ideal spot for landings from space.

Large parts are grassland plains, with very little water obstacles, and the road networks are about 1/5th of the total roads in Canada.

It also helps to have a Redneck population, in case of alien landing. Kidding, kidding, I kid because I love...

Russia has designated SK an emergency landing zone for cosmonauts. And a rich guy who circled the globe in his baloon landed in SK too.

Re:If the location sounds familiar to people... (1)

tgd (2822) | about 10 years ago | (#8785656)

I would've said the location sounds familiar because of that song in the Muppet Movie...

duh. (-1, Redundant)

edrugtrader (442064) | about 10 years ago | (#8785574)

will some projects step up and attempt a flight without being fully ready for it?

Yes.

Re:duh. (0, Offtopic)

edrugtrader (442064) | about 10 years ago | (#8785704)

hmmm... 4 comments up same response with a sentance more of obvious explanation = 5, insightful. me = offtopic.

idiots.

Re:duh. (1)

Carnildo (712617) | about 10 years ago | (#8785805)

hmmm... 4 comments up same response with a sentance more of obvious explanation = 5, insightful. me = offtopic.

If it makes you feel any better, I'd mod you "redundant" if I hadn't already posted to the topic.

The question is the risk worth it? (3, Insightful)

randall_burns (108052) | about 10 years ago | (#8785592)

I personally feel that a lot of pressing problems would be solved if humanity gets into space in a serious way. Quite simply, existing growth of energy and raw material apprears unlikely to continue without utilization of non-terrestrial [slashdot.org] materials. IMHO it is also likely that the type of sacrifices necessary to create an economically viable human presence in space is far less than the sacrifices that would be involved if a war is fought to settle the issues here(i.e. given the technological level of weaponry).

I personally see humanities choice as between creating an economically viable presence in space-and gradually moving industry there-as Gerard O'Neill at Princeton proposed-or facing the probability of nuclear war or worse. In light of that, I _do_ think that a lot of risk is warrented to create a human presence in space.


Even if I'm wrong here, people risk their lives for far less worthwhile objectives(i.e. look at the folks that die after drug overdoses, drunk driving accidents or of AIDS).


The folks that say the risk here isn't warrented are generally envious, cowardly whiners that know that noone like them has a shot at ever winning a competition of this nature--and are afraid that if someone else gets a little bit of increases status it will be that much less left for them. Such cowards have taken the earth to the brink of disaster. Playing it safe-and avoiding the search for poritive sum technological solutions to humanity's major problems is a major root of the enormous decimation of species and genocide of entire peoples--folks don't even put sigificant effort into conceiving of truly positive sum approaches to humanity's future they are so stuck in a narrow way of looking at the world.

Re:The question is the risk worth it? (4, Insightful)

peacefinder (469349) | about 10 years ago | (#8786674)

Quite simply, existing growth of energy and raw material apprears unlikely to continue without utilization of non-terrestrial materials.

Well, sure. Population growth can't continue indefinitely without running short of raw materials. (And room.)

But what raw materials are we talking about here? If I'm not mistaken, the only materials available in abundance in near space are metals, and we're pretty well set for them. Our future resource shortages are more likely to be along the lines of fresh water than iron ingots.

Given the energy expenditure involved in extracting additional raw materials and bringing them safely to Earth, it seems to me that the same energy would be better spent recycling the contents of our landfills, cleaning up watersheds, and slowing population growth.

(Besides, who said indefinite growth is even desireable? If we end up in a position where population pressure is forcing migration up the gravity well, a few rockets ain't gonna cut the mustard anyway.)

It's not that I'm not a space enthusiast; I am. I hope humanity does colonize off-planet one day. But I don't see how space is a necessary or sufficient component for positive-sum approaches.

Crashes (1, Offtopic)

The_Mystic_For_Real (766020) | about 10 years ago | (#8785624)

From the article:Wildfire's total budget is $5-illion, while the Rutan, its main competitor from California, has a $25-million wallet filled by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. "It's the Canadian team with no money against the American team with unlimited resources," said Ms. Wildman. "But they just did some test flights and had a failed landing and our testing has gone perfectly. We feel like we have the edge."" The thing funded by Bill Gates crashes. What else is new?

Not quite (2, Informative)

Simarilius (665671) | about 10 years ago | (#8785877)

The storys inaccurate, its not Bill Gates funding Spaceship one, its Paul Allen. Microsoft connection yes, Gates, no.

Re:Crashes (3, Informative)

bwy (726112) | about 10 years ago | (#8786124)

Don't believe everything you read. Paul Allen is a big sponsor of SpaceShipOne... Not Bill Gates so far as I know. Also, I'd hardly say that SpaceShipOne crashed. It has a successful flight and had an incident with the landing gear that was cabable of being repaired. And during that flight, SpaceShipOne became the first ever privately funded plane/spaceship to break the sound barrier. SO what, they had a landing gear issue. Earlier in flight they lit up a rocket engine after being dropped from a jet at 47,000 feet.

Crappy journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785635)

Apparantly, the G&M can't tell the difference between Wildman and Wildfire. Or, worse, between Paul Allen and Bill Gates.

Makes me sad to be a Canadian.

*Sigh*

Re:Crappy journalism (1)

merdark (550117) | about 10 years ago | (#8786214)

Apparantly, the G&M can't tell the difference between Wildman and Wildfire. Or, worse, between Paul Allen and Bill Gates.

Huh? What are you on about? The G&M article, as well as all the other news sources reporting this, all have it straight.

Wildfire = shipnam
Wildman = surname of spokesperson for Da Vinci project

Bill Gates = Chairman and Cheif Technology Officer
Paul Allen = CEO

Re:Crappy journalism (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8787020)

I think he meant that Paul Allen is funding the project, NOT Bill Gates. And besides, Paul Allen is NOT the CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer is ... Paul Allen was a co-founder. But this is Slashdot, so nobody cares about MS, right. ;)

CANADIANS PUT MEN ON THE MOON (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785651)

Most of the Nasa engineers during the space race were Canadians who left Avro after the Arrow project was cancelled. Americans are far too stupid to be rocket scientists, this is why they needed Germans and Canadians to get them to the moon.

Not ready yet (1)

anon*127.0.0.1 (637224) | about 10 years ago | (#8785730)



Maybe... except that the rules state that it has to be a manned flight. Would you want to go up knowing your team wasn't "fully ready for it"?

I didn't think so.

We're 106km from outer space, eh? (3, Funny)

billstewart (78916) | about 10 years ago | (#8785794)

We've got full tanks of kerosine and Lox, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing spacesuits built by the lowest bidder. .... hit it! ....

Re:We're 106km from outer space, eh? (1)

chadjg (615827) | about 10 years ago | (#8786377)

Well, as long as they remember to bring some bagels, all is good, as long as the tank doesn't leak, or the space suits, or if somebody REMEMBERED TO BRING A LIGHTER & A FLASHLIGHT, OH OHHHHHH!

Sorry.

John Carmack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8785801)

Is he in this competition?

This won't be the first time (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8786120)

Canadians have put something in space. A guy called Gerald Bull used to routinely shoot things 100 km up. If he hadn't been murdered, probably by a spy, he probably would have put a satellite in orbit.

I'm suprised that no one has made a movie about him. The following link is definately worth a look:

www.astronautix.com/articles/abroject.htm

Re:This won't be the first time (4, Informative)

Chairboy (88841) | about 10 years ago | (#8786576)

Evidence suggests that he was murdered by Isreali secret police because, and I'm not making this up, he was building a super gun in Iraq that could shell Isreal at will.

The motto of this story? Consider the source of your R&D funding, it may come back to haunt you.

Bullwinkle (2, Funny)

falsification (644190) | about 10 years ago | (#8786156)

I think they should name their ship Bullwinkle, or Rocky. There was a great cartoon about a flying Canadian squirrel a long time ago. The graphics are like completely stupid, but it's funny sometimes in a geeky kind of way.

What do you say, Canada?

Fully Ready (2, Funny)

Apostata (390629) | about 10 years ago | (#8786487)

Quote: One has to wonder, with launch dates being set, will some projects step up and attempt a flight without being fully ready for it?

Apparently only those run by NASA.

I'm there! (2, Interesting)

qualico (731143) | about 10 years ago | (#8786903)

Being close to Saskatchewan, I'll go for the launch.

Using my Celestron 9.25" Telescope with video camera, I'll give Slashdot a good update at www.spacecanada.org
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