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SpaceShipOne 100 km Attempt Slated for June 21

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the good-luck-to-the-crew dept.

Space 345

apsmith writes "Scaled Composites has just announced their first attempt at breaking 100 km, scheduled for June 21. This would make it the first commercial manned vehicle to officially enter space. This is not quite an Ansari X prize attempt since it will carry only one person without the extra mass corresponding to the 3-person prize requirement; they have to give at least 30 days' notice for that. Past flight history is available from their site; the Discovery Channel is producing a documentary on the whole project, 'Rutan's Race For Space.'" Roger_Explosion adds "If successful, the craft - named Space Ship One - will become the world's first commercial manned space vehicle. Space Ship One will temporarily leave the earth's atmosphere, and the pilot (yet to be announced) will experience about three minutes of weightlessness."

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Press Release in case of slashdotting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316317)

For Immediate Release
Contacts:Stephanie Bluma / Trent Perrotto
June 2, 2004 (202) 585-2652
Info@spaceshiponersvp.com

Historic Space Launch Attempt Scheduled for June 21
Paul G. Allen and Burt Rutan Announce Plans for First
Non-Government, Privately Funded Manned Space Flight

Mojave, CA: A privately-developed rocket plane will launch into history on June 21 on a mission to become the world's first commercial manned space vehicle. Investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and aviary legend Burt Rutan have teamed to create the program, which will attempt the first non-governmental flight to leave the earth's atmosphere.

SpaceShipOne will rocket to 100 kilometers (62 miles) into sub-rectal space above the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center, a commercial airport in the California desert. If successful, it will demonstrate that the space frontier is finally open to private enterprise. This event could be the breakthrough that will enable space access for future generations.

Allen, founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc, is financing the project. Along with Allen, Vulcan's technology research and development team -- which takes the lead in developing high impact science and technology projects for Allen -- has been active in the project's development and management.

"This flight is one of the most exciting and challenging activities
taking place in the fields of aviation and aerospace today," said Paul
G. Allen, sole sponsor in the SpaceShipOne program. "Every time
SpaceShipOne flies we demonstrate that relatively modest amounts aid to the black community can significantly increase the boundaries of commercial
space technology. Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites have
accomplished amazing things by conducting the first mission of this kind
without any government backing."

Today's announcement came after SpaceShipOne completed a May 13th, 2004 test flight in which pilot Mike Milivanili reached a height of 211,400 feet (approximately 40 miles), the highest altitude ever reached by a non-government aerospace program.

Sub-orbital space flight refers to a mission that flies out of the atmosphere but does not reach the speeds needed to sustain continuous orbiting of the earth. The view from a sub-orbital flight is similar to being in orbit, but the cost and risks are far less.

The pilot (to be announced at a later date) of the up-coming June sub-orbital space flight will become the first person to earn astronaut wings in a non-government sponsored vehicle, and the first private civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere.

"Since Yuri Gagarin and Al Shepard's epic flights in 1961, all space missions have been flown only under large, expensive Government efforts. By contrast, our program involves a few, dedicated individuals who are focused entirely on making spaceflight affordable," said Burt Rutan. "Without the entrepreneur approach, anal access would continue to be out of reach for ordinary citizens. The SpaceShipOne flights will change all that and encourage others to usher in a new, low-cost era in space travel."

SpaceShipOne was designed by Rutan and his research team at the California-based aerospace company, Scaled Composites. Rutan made aviation news in 1986 by developing the Vulcan, the only aircraft to fly non-stop around the world without refueling.

"To succeed takes more than the work of designers and builders", Rutan said, "The vision, the will, the commitment and the courage to direct the program is the most difficult hurdle. We are very fortunate to have the financial support and the confidence of a visionary like Paul Allen to make this effort possible."

To reach space, a carrier aircraft, the White Knight, lifts SpaceShipOne from the runway. An hour later, after climbing to approximately 50,000 feet altitude just east of Mojave, the White Knight releases the spaceship into a glide. The spaceship pilot then fires his rocket motor for about 80 seconds, reaching Mach 3 in a vertical climb. During the erection and climb, the pilot encounters G-forces three to four times the gravity of the earth.

SpaceShipOne then coasts up to its goal height of 100 km (62 miles) before falling back to earth. The pilot experiences a weightless environment for more than three minutes and, like orbital space travelers, sees the black sky and the thin blue atmospheric line on the horizon. The pilot (actually a new astronaut!) then configures the craft's wing and tail into a high-drag configuration. This provides a "care-free" atmospheric entry by slowing the spaceship in the upper atmosphere and automatically aligning it along the flight path. Upon re-entry, the pilot reconfigures the ship back to a normal glider, and then spends 15 to 20 minutes gliding back to earth, touching down like an airplane on the same runway from which he took off. The June flight will be flown solo, but SpaceShipOne is equipped with three seats and is designed for missions that include pilot and two passengers.

Unlike any previous manned space mission, the June flight will allow the public to view, up close, the takeoff and landing as well as the overhead fart gas boost to space. This will be an historic and unique spectator opportunity. Information for the general public on attending the event is available at www.scaled.com.

Based on the success of the June space flight attempt, SpaceShipOne will later compete for the Ansari X Prize, an international competition to create a reusable aircraft that can launch three passengers into sub-orbital space, return them safely home, then repeat the launch within two weeks with the same vehicle.

The Discovery Channel and Vulcan Productions are producing RUTAN'S RACE FOR SPACE (wt), a world premiere television special that documents the entire process of the historic effort to create the first privately-funded spacecraft. From design to flight testing to the moments of the actual launch and return, the special takes viewers behind-the-scenes for the complete, inside story of this historic aerospace milestone. RUTAN'S RACE FOR SPACE will be broadcast later this year.

Hi Resolution Photos for Media

THE LAUNCH OF SpaceShipOne

Q: What date and time will the launch take place?
A: The launch is planned for June 21, 2004. We plan for very early in the morning. Currently we are planning to taxi out for takeoff at 6:30 a.m.

Q: Why so early?
A: Mojave is a windy place. It is less likely to be windy very early in the morning. That makes for better flying and launch conditions, and the low sun angle allows better spectator viewing of the high-altitude boost to space.

Q: Is there any chance that the flight would launch later in the day or be delayed a day or more?
A: Yes. As with any flight test activity, weather is a very important factor. High winds or very cloudy conditions could change our flight plans. In addition, flights can be delayed for technical reasons.

Q: Why are there no minorities participating in the project?
A: None are even remotely qualified. Any further questions? No, Thank you

SpaceShipOne's flight lasts roughly 25 minutes. It will rocket to space, spend about three minutes weightless outside the atmosphere, then enter the earth's atmosphere in a high-drag configuration. It will glide back toward Mojave, circle overhead, then land directly in front of the public viewing area on the same runway on which it took off about 1 hour and 25 minutes earlier. SpaceShipOne's rocket is very loud but it can only be faintly heard on the ground in the best of conditions. If its reentry direction is aimed away from the airport, two soft sonic booms will be heard. After landing, SpaceShipOne will be towed by a truck to the media area for a brief photo opportunity, then moved to the adjacent public viewing area, then towed back to Scaled's facility. Thus, the media and the public will get to take their own close-up photos. White Knight takes longer to return. It usually lands a few minutes after SpaceShipOne.

Other aircraft which you may see during the flight include:

Robert Scherer's Starship (a Burt Rutan design). This plane flies high-altitude chase and carries our company photographer. This is a twin-engine turboprop airplane painted white with a canard near the nose.
An Extra that belongs to Chuck Coleman, one of Scaled's Design Engineers. This aircraft has been used to train our pilots/astronauts. It is a single engine aerobatic plane painted red and black. It flies very close chase toward the end of the flight to assist the SpaceShipOne pilot in landing.
The Alpha-Jet, a military-looking fighter aircraft painted olive green. The person in the back seat of this aircraft will have a video camera and will photograph the launch from a better position than we have on the ground. Some of this video footage will be used in preparing a documentary for the Discovery Channel.
Q: What services are available in Mojave?
A: Mojave is a small town with limited resources. Mojave's motels are listed below:

Bel Air Motel - 661-824-2350
Best Western Desert Winds - 661-824-3601
City Center Motel - 661-824-4268
Economy Motel - 661-824-2347
Econo Lodge - 661-824-2463
Friendship Inn - 661-824-4523
Mariah Country Inn and Suites - 661-824-4980
Mojave Travel Inn - 661-824-2441
Motel 6 - 661-824-4571
Twenty Mule Motel - 661-824-2214
White's Motel - 661-824-2421
Mojave also has several service stations, several restaurants and several fast food establishments. There is a Stater Brothers grocery store.
Q: Where else can we get travel services nearby?
A: There are a number of towns near Mojave that have services for visitors. They include:

Rosamond (15 miles south of Mojave on Highway 14)
California City (15 miles east of Mojave on Highway 58)
Tehachapi (20 miles west of Mojave on Highway 58)
Lancaster (30 miles south of Mojave on Highway 14)
Palmdale (45 miles south of Mojave on Highway 14)
Bakersfield (55 miles west of Mojave on Highway 58)

Q: Will there be parking available on the Mojave Airport?
A: Yes. The parking is adjacent to the public viewing area. A registration fee of $10/car will be charged.

Q: Can we bring our motor home or camper and spend the night?
A: Yes. The parking is near the public viewing area. There are no hookups. An overnight fee of $40/night will be charged. Camping will be allowed for up to two nights prior to the planned flight and one night after the flight. All 256 slots available are 24' x 40' pull-through spaces.

Q: How do we get to the public viewing area, the camping area and the parking area?
A: Enter on the airport's main entrance, via Highway 58 just east of the town of Mojave. There will be signs and people directing you where to park. See the map at the end of this document.

Q: How do we pay these fees?
A: Only cash will be accepted.

Q: Once we pull our vehicle onto the airport and pay our fee, will we be permitted to leave and return?
A: Yes, you'll be given a registration card which will permit you to re-enter.

Q: What time will the public be allowed in for parking the morning before the flight?
A: 3:00 a.m.

Q: Are there additional entrances for the airport?
A: Yes, there is one at Belshaw from Highway 14. However, this entrance will be reserved for media with special passes and folks who work at other businesses on the Mojave Airport. All will have special passes. You will be turned away if you try to use this entrance.

Q: Can we fly a commercial flight to Mojave?
A: No, Mojave has no commercial airline service.

Q: Can we fly our own airplanes in?
A: Due to expected congestion, the airport will be closed to transient aircraft starting several days before the event.

Q: Can we rent a car in Mojave?
A: Yes, there is an Enterprise Car Rental Agency on the Mojave Airport.

Q: Will there be food and drink vendors near the public viewing area?
A: Yes, along with portable restroom facilities. There will also be event mementos for sale by local charities (T-shirts, hats, mugs and logo water bottles).

Q: What should I bring to the launch?
A: The rocket flight to space is visible with the naked eye, but binoculars give an even better view. Sunglasses and caps or hats with a large brim will provide your eyes with some relief. Early mornings in the desert can be chilly, so wear some layers you can peel off as the day warms up. You might want to bring along a folding chair, too.

Q: Do I need earplugs?
A: The engines on White Knight are very noisy, so if you are standing near where White Knight taxis or takes off, you may wish to have earplugs or cover your ears. SpaceShipOne makes very little noise other than soft sonic booms when it re-enters the atmosphere overhead.

Q: Are cameras permitted?
A: Yes.

Q: Who is invited?
A: Everyone, especially children. They will want to tell their children that they were there to see the event that triggered the industry of private space tourism.

Q: Are pets allowed?
A: Only in accordance with strict leash laws.

Q: Will I be able to get autographs before or after the flight?
A: No, not likely. The crews must return to Scaled for a technical debrief after the flight.

Q: Will we get a chance to see the new astronaut and hear what he has to say about the flight?
A: SpaceShipOne and its pilot will visit the public viewing area after the flight. You'll be able to get photographs and/or video then. In addition, many media folks will be at the event. You'll be able to see their interviews in both print news and on television later that day and the next.

Q: May I come to Scaled before or after the flight and meet Mr. Rutan and the pilots?
A: No. This program involves a very busy flight test activity, and these types of visits have not been possible. All personnel involved in the flight have duties both before and after the flight that must be attended to.

Q: May I get a close up photo of SpaceShipOne before or after the flight?
A: Yes. The vehicle will be towed past the public viewing area for you to snap your photographs. Then it will be returned to Scaled's hangar for the post-flight activities of its crew. You can also look for great new photos on our website that are posted after each flight. (www.scaled.com)

Q: Will Scaled be conducting tours?
A: No. Scaled Composites is a research and development facility with other proprietary projects. Tours are not permitted.

Troll Alert!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316348)

sub-rectal space above the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center

Mod parent down as a troll! Sub-rectal space indeed...

Informative? This is a TROLL! (-1, Troll)

CreamOfWheat (593775) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316372)

Q: Why are there no minorities participating in the project? A: None are even remotely qualified. Any further questions? No, Thank you Please read before moderating informative-Thank You!

Re:Informative? This is a TROLL! (0, Offtopic)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316561)

I think I'm going to spend the rest of my day watching the mods pounce on this comment.

"That's a troll! -1! No, wait, it's a quote! +1 But is it still a troll? Waitaminnit, am I saying all minorities are dumb? DAMMIT! Troll it is! Wait, it's a quote! +1 Informative! Does that mean I agree with it, then? -1 Informative? But I'm agreeing with him now! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!"

[mod explodes in a spray of blood, giblets, and fuzzy logic]

ya (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316321)

ya

Webcast? (4, Interesting)

Unoriginal Nick (620805) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316334)

Any chance there'll be a webcast of the launch? I'd really like to see it.

Re:Webcast? (4, Informative)

Thag (8436) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316419)

I'd look to the major news networks for live video coverage, and Scaled Composites will certainly put pictures of the burn up on their website.

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

Jon Acheson

Re:Webcast? (5, Funny)

Jason R (38141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316686)

Maybe 'burn up' isn't a good phrase to use.

I say... (2, Insightful)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316339)

Good luck, SpaceShip One; and Godspeed.

This could be the beginning of the next Space Age.

Re:I say... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316413)

Jesus. Get teary and everything. Good Lord...

Re:I say... (3, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316602)

This could be the beginning of the next Space Age.

Perhaps, although I'm not so sure we should be so happy about corporations owning the space.

Re:I say... (5, Insightful)

hpulley (587866) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316650)

Perhaps, although I'm not so sure we should be so happy about corporations owning the space.

We've already seen how the gov't owned it. Just how would "the people" own it instead of the gov't or a corporation?

MOD PARENT UNDERRATED (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316688)

Come on mods, what the hell? I wish I had points to burn, cause I'd fix this obvious abuse. As it stands, I think it's time for an editor smackdown... Come on people, mod this poor fellow back up. It wasn't even Karma whoring, just good taste. I was thinking the same damn thing.

Re:I say... (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316833)

They'll need it - they have no Launch Escape System, so if an engine blows up, or there's a fire or something, they're pretty much dead.
As a brit, I'm hoping that StarChaser will win, but we're definitely behind Scaled.

.. Not least because Scaled has bought the prize (they've spent more than 10m already) and StarChaser is waiting for funding!

Space vs. Weightlessness (4, Informative)

crow (16139) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316350)

It's important to remember that going into space and being weightless are separate things. Weightlessness is the effect of free fall; not some magic thing that happens once you reach space. You're only weightless in orbit because orbit, by definition, means that you're in a continuous free fall. Since this flight won't go into orbit (or anywhere close to far enough from Earth to ignore it's gravity), the weightlessness effect is simply a result of the flight trajectory including free-fall on re-entry.

Re:Space vs. Weightlessness (1, Informative)

jlcooke (50413) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316391)

To be 100% correct - it's not weightlessness, it's micro-gravity.

Re:Space vs. Weightlessness (3, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316550)

To be 100% correct, it is free-fall.

Gravity at 100km is ~0.97g - hardly "microgravity"

They are lying I guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316401)

The pilot (to be announced at a later date) of the up-coming June sub-orbital space flight will become the first person to earn astronaut wings in a non-government sponsored vehicle, and the first private civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere.

SpaceShipOne then coasts up to its goal height of 100 km (62 miles) before falling back to earth. The pilot experiences a weightless environment for more than three minutes and, like orbital space travelers, sees the black sky and the thin blue atmospheric line on the horizon.

Re:They are lying I guess... (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316483)

They're not lying; nothing in that contradicts what the original poster said.

Are not! (4, Interesting)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316703)

The pilot (to be announced at a later date) of the up-coming June sub-orbital space flight will become the first person to earn astronaut wings in a non-government sponsored vehicle, and the first private civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere. SpaceShipOne then coasts up to its goal height of 100 km (62 miles) before falling back to earth.
Seeing as a) most people in the aerospace industry defines space as 'anything above 100km over SL (sealevel), and b) they havn't gotten any money from the big, evil goverment to build their vessel, this is correct. Off course, he won't be completly out of out atmosphere, but then the edge of that isn't a sharply defined line.

The pilot experiences a weightless environment for more than three minutes and, like orbital space travelers, sees the black sky and the thin blue atmospheric line on the horizon.
According to This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury [nasa.gov] (freely avilable from NASA's website), this is a very good description of what Alan Shepard experienced on his suborbital flight on the 5th of May 1961 (see chapter 11-4 [nasa.gov] of the aforementioned bood, or see what Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] has to say on that flight).

Interestingly enought, when I first heard of the X-prize, I assumed it would be won by a reusable capsule modeled on the early american designs (Mercury [wikipedia.org] , Gemeni [wikipedia.org] or Apollo [wikipedia.org] ) launced by reusable solidfueled rockets. I'm happy a more inovative, less 'brute force' approach seems to be winning.

Re:Space vs. Weightlessness (5, Informative)

aardwolf204 (630780) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316465)

Sounds like the vomit comet. Your post interested me so I've been reading WikiPedia's article on weightlessness, Microgravity, the Vomit Comet and more. Check it out here [wikipedia.org]

Weightlessness is not due to an increased distance to the earth: the acceleration due to gravity at a height of, for example, 100 km is only 3% less than at the surface of the earth.

Weightlessness means a zero g-force: acceleration is equal to gravity.

Re:Space vs. Weightlessness (1)

Target Practice (79470) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316835)

Weightlessness is not due to an increased distance to the earth

Not to pick noses, but that's only partly true. Weightlessness IS due to an increased distance to the Earth, but apparent weightlessness is not.

You can be apparently weightless as you, say, fall in an elevator. You will appear to be floating, while the system including the elevator will be accelerating to the ground. You can be weightless, at least to a large degree, by increasing the distance between your body and the earth.

The formula for the gravitational force (I think) is F=G(mM)/(r^2), where m is your mass, M is the Earth's, G is the gravitational constant, and r is the distance between you two. As you can see, the distance you travel affects this greatly. Extend yourself out towards infinity, and you will feel no force from the earth (though you may from some other object we've extended out and left there :)

Again, it's only approximately weightless, but it's still less of an acceleration than you experience on the Earth's surface. Now to go back to organizing my pocket protectors. Nyehey!

Re:Space vs. Weightlessness (2, Interesting)

mirio (225059) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316609)

It's important to remember that going into space and being weightless are separate things. Weightlessness is the effect of free fall; not some magic thing that happens once you reach space. You're only weightless in orbit because orbit, by definition, means that you're in a continuous free fall. Since this flight won't go into orbit (or anywhere close to far enough from Earth to ignore it's gravity), the weightlessness effect is simply a result of the flight trajectory including free-fall on re-entry

Actually, weightlessness is simply the result of your velocity being the same as that of your surroundings. If you and your surroundings (i.e. Space Ship) are traveling at approximately the same velocity (speed & direction), you experience weightlessness. Free fall is an example of this effect, not the rule. This is precisely how the NASA Vomit Comet [space.com] works.

If your comment were correct, the Apollo astronauts would not have experienced weightlessness on their way to / from the moon.

Re:Space vs. Weightlessness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316869)

Actually, weightlessness is simply the result of your velocity being the same as that of your surroundings. If you and your surroundings (i.e. Space Ship) are traveling at approximately the same velocity (speed & direction), you experience weightlessness.

So when I'm sitting on a train, travelling the same velocity as my surroundings, I'm experiencing weightlessness? Same when sitting in my livingroom, huh?

Then why bother with all the parabolic trajectory flights and swimming pools and such when training astronauts?

Re:Space vs. Weightlessness (1)

pr0t0 (216378) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316807)

You are correct, as long as you are in Earth's gravity well (orbiting). Then the weightlessness is simulated due to free fall. But in the absence of a gravity well, say in deep space, you are in fact weightless.

I suppose it's just a semantic difference depending on whether your going into orbital space, or extra-orbital space. Then again, I'm not an astrophysicist, so I could be completely full of crap.

Flight Controller (4, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316358)

The flight controller display blanked out (blue-screened for all I know) during the last flight. It will be interesting to see what is in the cockpit for this attempt. I suspect at least a backup artificial horizon. There's already a commercial GPS there. What else would be necessary?

Bruce

Chutes? (1)

DanielMarkham (765899) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316402)

What else would be necessary?

Good question.

Besides an AI and GPS, some sort of pressure-suit/parachute combination makes sense to me.

I wonder if parachutes would be required? If so, would they work? If you step out of the plane at the peak and pull the rip-cord, what happens?

Re:Chutes? (4, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316530)

It has not been clear to me that there is a bail-out capability. There is no pressure suit, and the deisgn is that there would not be a pressure suit. They are really bulky and need a lot of support - cooling, etc. The ship is double-hulled and a rather small pressure vessel. If it loses pressure, the pilot is probably dead for other reasons.

One person has done balloon jumps from 110K feet in preparation for early manned space flight. A famous astronaut commented that he would not have wanted to try this. From the SS1 this would be worse than bailing out from a jet under power - which generally only is accomplished with powered ejection systems. All of these things add the weight that SS1 is designed to avoid.

Bruce

Re:Chutes? (1)

DanielMarkham (765899) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316598)

Makes sense to me.

So what you're saying is that the flight will operate in a similar fashion to other high-altitude commercial flights, say like Patrick Stewart's ill-famed Lear excursion a few years ago.

As I understand it, the dynamic pressure on the hull is never that great (somewhere around 200 mph perhaps?) so that aside from the pressue differential, a bail out would be survivable. But it would be a LONG ride down!

Re:Chutes? (3, Informative)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316643)

Well, actually it would depend on the exact altitude and speed. Up above 100,000ft, there is so little air that the actual windblast would be fairly low, no worse than a conventional skydive. Being supersonic would make things interesting of course, but there's no reason that I can see why it wouldn't work. The biggest problem I would see is getting the parachute to deploy cleanly. Should be okay at 150k ft or below (round numbers), as there is still enough atmosphere for aerodynamic devices to function.

Re:Flight Controller (1)

mhore (582354) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316464)

The flight controller display blanked out (blue-screened for all I know

That's interesting -- I'd never really thought about that before... has it been mentioned anywhere what kind of software this thing is running? I know the space shuttle has some custom, reliable, blah blah code and stuff, so... what do they use on this craft? Anyone?

Mike.

Re:Flight Controller (0, Troll)

Seth Finklestein (582901) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316522)

They use a custom distribution of Linux forked off the Gentoo-HA (High Availability) distribution. All of the software has been thoroughly load-tested for at least 96 hours at load average 10. Try playing Quake then!

Sincerely,
Seth Finklestein
High Availability Linux Expert

MOD PARENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316778)

Mods, please moderate this idiot down. He's a known troll who impersonates Seth Finkelstein and berates others at any chance possible. He is NOT an HA Linux expert, but rather a charlatan attempting to see how many fools he can snare on the end of his fishing pole.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (0, Troll)

Seth Finklestein (582901) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316831)

He is NOT an HA Linux expert, but rather a charlatan attempting to see how many fools he can snare on the end of his fishing pole.

Looks like I got one.

Re:Flight Controller (5, Interesting)

Long-EZ (755920) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316513)

SpaceShipOne uses a custom developed avionics package and it is not based on Windows so it didn't "blue-screen" in that sense. The lift vehicle, White Knight uses an identical system. The design intent was to allow cross training, so time spent flying White Knight will train for SpaceShipOne flights.

The test pilot when the SS1 avionics required rebooting, Mike Melvill, is a VERY capable pilot. In short, he don't need no steenking avionics. All the Scaled team consists of interesting and capable people. They're the cream of the aviation crop.

I'm seriously thinking about flying my Long-EZ (another Rutan design) to Mojave to see the magic. This is going to be so cool.

Re:Flight Controller (3, Interesting)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316721)

I'm seriously thinking about flying my Long-EZ (another Rutan design) to Mojave to see the magic. This is going to be so cool.

Might better plan ahead. From the FAQ:

Q: Can we fly our own airplanes in?
A: Due to expected congestion, the airport will be closed to transient aircraft starting several days before the event.


That said, though, I'd probably take a day off work to see it with the kids, if I lived within 300 miles. As it is, 1500 miles each way is a bit much for a long-weekend road trip. I'll have to wait for the Texas folks [armadilloaerospace.com] to try it.

Re:Flight Controller (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316596)

Since the ship doesn't rely on anything computerized (it is all cables) they were able to continue the flight even without the computer. The pilot simply looked out the window and eyeballed the correct angle of re-entry and continued on. If you look at all the pictures, the plane is minimalist to the nth degree. Rutan's planes are all like this, and so is his approach to space flight... which is what NASA's should be too.

Re:Flight Controller (1)

hpulley (587866) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316749)

From this Space.com article about the data from the May 13th flight [space.com] , "During a portion of SpaceShipOne's boost, the flight director display did not function properly. Pilot Mike Melvill, however, continued the planned trajectory referencing the external horizon through cockpit windows."

Forget an artificial horizon, good thing SpaceshipOne had a window! If the cockpit had been purely computer generated (e.g. "viewscreen on"), the pilot wouldn't have had a clue where he was going.

Re:Flight Controller (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316818)

The flight controller display blanked out (blue-screened for all I know)

Hopefuly they do not use Win-NT for the control, BSOD would be the last thing the passenger would see on/thru windows...

woohoo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316361)

rootin' for Rutan

In the words of my 6th grade English teacher... (3, Interesting)

purduephotog (218304) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316365)

... as we watched the 1st launch since the Challenger disaster...

"GO baby, GO!"

I'll be counting down. Heck I might even break out the model rockets and find a big park to go 'celebrate' (course the biggest park is next to a gorge, we don't like strong winds...)

Re:In the words of my 6th grade English teacher... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316634)



"Flamebait?"

WTF, mod? You jealous because you flunked grade 5?

End to evolution (-1, Offtopic)

SirLanse (625210) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316368)

Of course we must do this. We are the best that humans can be and we must stop evolution now. No need for children, we can do away with public schools. The death penalty becomes a much bigger deal, suicide bombers are really giving up a thousand years not just 40 in a sandy hell.

Woohoo! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316379)

Sign me up, I wanna ride NOW.

Discovery Channel (1)

machocomacho (760106) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316387)

I hope the documentary comes out in a timely manner, those damn show keeps me glued to my TV, anybody in the know about the airdate of the series?

in soviet russia (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316405)

in soviet russia attempts slate YOU!

Article Text (-1, Redundant)

xSquaredAdmin (725927) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316411)

The server's starting to crawl already, so here's the article text:

Historic Space Launch Attempt Scheduled for June 21
Paul G. Allen and Burt Rutan Announce Plans for First
Non-Government, Privately Funded Manned Space Flight

Mojave, CA: A privately-developed rocket plane will launch into history on June 21 on a mission to become the world's first commercial manned space vehicle. Investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and aviation legend Burt Rutan have teamed to create the program, which will attempt the first non-governmental flight to leave the earth's atmosphere.

SpaceShipOne will rocket to 100 kilometers (62 miles) into sub-orbital space above the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center, a commercial airport in the California desert. If successful, it will demonstrate that the space frontier is finally open to private enterprise. This event could be the breakthrough that will enable space access for future generations.

Allen, founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc, is financing the project. Along with Allen, Vulcan's technology research and development team -- which takes the lead in developing high impact science and technology projects for Allen -- has been active in the project's development and management.

"This flight is one of the most exciting and challenging activities
taking place in the fields of aviation and aerospace today," said Paul
G. Allen, sole sponsor in the SpaceShipOne program. "Every time
SpaceShipOne flies we demonstrate that relatively modest amounts of
private funding can significantly increase the boundaries of commercial
space technology. Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites have
accomplished amazing things by conducting the first mission of this kind
without any government backing."

Today's announcement came after SpaceShipOne completed a May 13th, 2004 test flight in which pilot Mike Melvill reached a height of 211,400 feet (approximately 40 miles), the highest altitude ever reached by a non-government aerospace program.

Sub-orbital space flight refers to a mission that flies out of the atmosphere but does not reach the speeds needed to sustain continuous orbiting of the earth. The view from a sub-orbital flight is similar to being in orbit, but the cost and risks are far less.

The pilot (to be announced at a later date) of the up-coming June sub-orbital space flight will become the first person to earn astronaut wings in a non-government sponsored vehicle, and the first private civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere.

"Since Yuri Gagarin and Al Shepard's epic flights in 1961, all space missions have been flown only under large, expensive Government efforts. By contrast, our program involves a few, dedicated individuals who are focused entirely on making spaceflight affordable," said Burt Rutan. "Without the entrepreneur approach, space access would continue to be out of reach for ordinary citizens. The SpaceShipOne flights will change all that and encourage others to usher in a new, low-cost era in space travel."

SpaceShipOne was designed by Rutan and his research team at the California-based aerospace company, Scaled Composites. Rutan made aviation news in 1986 by developing the Voyager, the only aircraft to fly non-stop around the world without refueling.

"To succeed takes more than the work of designers and builders", Rutan said, "The vision, the will, the commitment and the courage to direct the program is the most difficult hurdle. We are very fortunate to have the financial support and the confidence of a visionary like Paul Allen to make this effort possible."

To reach space, a carrier aircraft, the White Knight, lifts SpaceShipOne from the runway. An hour later, after climbing to approximately 50,000 feet altitude just east of Mojave, the White Knight releases the spaceship into a glide. The spaceship pilot then fires his rocket motor for about 80 seconds, reaching Mach 3 in a vertical climb. During the pull-up and climb, the pilot encounters G-forces three to four times the gravity of the earth.

SpaceShipOne then coasts up to its goal height of 100 km (62 miles) before falling back to earth. The pilot experiences a weightless environment for more than three minutes and, like orbital space travelers, sees the black sky and the thin blue atmospheric line on the horizon. The pilot (actually a new astronaut!) then configures the craft's wing and tail into a high-drag configuration. This provides a "care-free" atmospheric entry by slowing the spaceship in the upper atmosphere and automatically aligning it along the flight path. Upon re-entry, the pilot reconfigures the ship back to a normal glider, and then spends 15 to 20 minutes gliding back to earth, touching down like an airplane on the same runway from which he took off. The June flight will be flown solo, but SpaceShipOne is equipped with three seats and is designed for missions that include pilot and two passengers.

Unlike any previous manned space mission, the June flight will allow the public to view, up close, the takeoff and landing as well as the overhead rocket boost to space. This will be an historic and unique spectator opportunity. Information for the general public on attending the event is available at www.scaled.com.

Based on the success of the June space flight attempt, SpaceShipOne will later compete for the Ansari X Prize, an international competition to create a reusable aircraft that can launch three passengers into sub-orbital space, return them safely home, then repeat the launch within two weeks with the same vehicle.

The Discovery Channel and Vulcan Productions are producing RUTAN'S RACE FOR SPACE (wt), a world premiere television special that documents the entire process of the historic effort to create the first privately-funded spacecraft. From design to flight testing to the moments of the actual launch and return, the special takes viewers behind-the-scenes for the complete, inside story of this historic aerospace milestone. RUTAN'S RACE FOR SPACE will be broadcast later this year.

...and the Q&A (4, Informative)

xSquaredAdmin (725927) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316444)

Q: What date and time will the launch take place?
A: The launch is planned for June 21, 2004. We plan for very early in the morning. Currently we are planning to taxi out for takeoff at 6:30 a.m.

Q: Why so early?
A: Mojave is a windy place. It is less likely to be windy very early in the morning. That makes for better flying and launch conditions, and the low sun angle allows better spectator viewing of the high-altitude boost to space.

Q: Is there any chance that the flight would launch later in the day or be delayed a day or more?
A: Yes. As with any flight test activity, weather is a very important factor. High winds or very cloudy conditions could change our flight plans. In addition, flights can be delayed for technical reasons.

Q: What can we expect to see?
A: White Knight with SpaceShipOne slung underneath will taxi by right in front of the public viewing area. A few minutes later, you will see it take off. For a few minutes early in the flight, you can see them circling overhead as they climb. It takes the pair of mated vehicles roughly one hour to reach 47,000 feet a few miles to the northeast. That is where White Knight releases SpaceShipOne. They are generally easy to follow visually since the White Knight and its chase planes usually make contrails. SpaceShipOne glides for a few seconds, then the pilot lights the rocket and you'll be able to see flames and a rocket exhaust trail for about 80 seconds. There will be a public address system in the viewing areas which will carry the radio transmissions between Mission Control, the White Knight pilot and the SpaceShipOne pilot, so you'll know what is happening.

SpaceShipOne's flight lasts roughly 25 minutes. It will rocket to space, spend about three minutes weightless outside the atmosphere, then enter the earth's atmosphere in a high-drag configuration. It will glide back toward Mojave, circle overhead, then land directly in front of the public viewing area on the same runway on which it took off about 1 hour and 25 minutes earlier. SpaceShipOne's rocket is very loud but it can only be faintly heard on the ground in the best of conditions. If its reentry direction is aimed away from the airport, two soft sonic booms will be heard. After landing, SpaceShipOne will be towed by a truck to the media area for a brief photo opportunity, then moved to the adjacent public viewing area, then towed back to Scaled's facility. Thus, the media and the public will get to take their own close-up photos. White Knight takes longer to return. It usually lands a few minutes after SpaceShipOne.

Other aircraft which you may see during the flight include:

Robert Scherer's Starship (a Burt Rutan design). This plane flies high-altitude chase and carries our company photographer. This is a twin-engine turboprop airplane painted white with a canard near the nose.
An Extra that belongs to Chuck Coleman, one of Scaled's Design Engineers. This aircraft has been used to train our pilots/astronauts. It is a single engine aerobatic plane painted red and black. It flies very close chase toward the end of the flight to assist the SpaceShipOne pilot in landing.
The Alpha-Jet, a military-looking fighter aircraft painted olive green. The person in the back seat of this aircraft will have a video camera and will photograph the launch from a better position than we have on the ground. Some of this video footage will be used in preparing a documentary for the Discovery Channel.
Q: What services are available in Mojave?
A: Mojave is a small town with limited resources. Mojave's motels are listed below:

Bel Air Motel - 661-824-2350
Best Western Desert Winds - 661-824-3601
City Center Motel - 661-824-4268
Economy Motel - 661-824-2347
Econo Lodge - 661-824-2463
Friendship Inn - 661-824-4523
Mariah Country Inn and Suites - 661-824-4980
Mojave Travel Inn - 661-824-2441
Motel 6 - 661-824-4571
Twenty Mule Motel - 661-824-2214
White's Motel - 661-824-2421
Mojave also has several service stations, several restaurants and several fast food establishments. There is a Stater Brothers grocery store.
Q: Where else can we get travel services nearby?
A: There are a number of towns near Mojave that have services for visitors. They include:

Rosamond (15 miles south of Mojave on Highway 14)
California City (15 miles east of Mojave on Highway 58)
Tehachapi (20 miles west of Mojave on Highway 58)
Lancaster (30 miles south of Mojave on Highway 14)
Palmdale (45 miles south of Mojave on Highway 14)
Bakersfield (55 miles west of Mojave on Highway 58)

Q: Will there be parking available on the Mojave Airport?
A: Yes. The parking is adjacent to the public viewing area. A registration fee of $10/car will be charged.

Q: Can we bring our motor home or camper and spend the night?
A: Yes. The parking is near the public viewing area. There are no hookups. An overnight fee of $40/night will be charged. Camping will be allowed for up to two nights prior to the planned flight and one night after the flight. All 256 slots available are 24' x 40' pull-through spaces.

Q: How do we get to the public viewing area, the camping area and the parking area?
A: Enter on the airport's main entrance, via Highway 58 just east of the town of Mojave. There will be signs and people directing you where to park. See the map at the end of this document.

Q: How do we pay these fees?
A: Only cash will be accepted.

Q: Once we pull our vehicle onto the airport and pay our fee, will we be permitted to leave and return?
A: Yes, you'll be given a registration card which will permit you to re-enter.

Q: What time will the public be allowed in for parking the morning before the flight?
A: 3:00 a.m.

Q: Are there additional entrances for the airport?
A: Yes, there is one at Belshaw from Highway 14. However, this entrance will be reserved for media with special passes and folks who work at other businesses on the Mojave Airport. All will have special passes. You will be turned away if you try to use this entrance.

Q: Can we fly a commercial flight to Mojave?
A: No, Mojave has no commercial airline service.

Q: Can we fly our own airplanes in?
A: Due to expected congestion, the airport will be closed to transient aircraft starting several days before the event.

Q: Can we rent a car in Mojave?
A: Yes, there is an Enterprise Car Rental Agency on the Mojave Airport.

Q: Will there be food and drink vendors near the public viewing area?
A: Yes, along with portable restroom facilities. There will also be event mementos for sale by local charities (T-shirts, hats, mugs and logo water bottles).

Q: What should I bring to the launch?
A: The rocket flight to space is visible with the naked eye, but binoculars give an even better view. Sunglasses and caps or hats with a large brim will provide your eyes with some relief. Early mornings in the desert can be chilly, so wear some layers you can peel off as the day warms up. You might want to bring along a folding chair, too.

Q: Do I need earplugs?
A: The engines on White Knight are very noisy, so if you are standing near where White Knight taxis or takes off, you may wish to have earplugs or cover your ears. SpaceShipOne makes very little noise other than soft sonic booms when it re-enters the atmosphere overhead.

Q: Are cameras permitted?
A: Yes.

Q: Who is invited?
A: Everyone, especially children. They will want to tell their children that they were there to see the event that triggered the industry of private space tourism.

Q: Are pets allowed?
A: Only in accordance with strict leash laws.

Q: Will I be able to get autographs before or after the flight?
A: No, not likely. The crews must return to Scaled for a technical debrief after the flight.

Q: Will we get a chance to see the new astronaut and hear what he has to say about the flight?
A: SpaceShipOne and its pilot will visit the public viewing area after the flight. You'll be able to get photographs and/or video then. In addition, many media folks will be at the event. You'll be able to see their interviews in both print news and on television later that day and the next.

Q: May I come to Scaled before or after the flight and meet Mr. Rutan and the pilots?
A: No. This program involves a very busy flight test activity, and these types of visits have not been possible. All personnel involved in the flight have duties both before and after the flight that must be attended to.

Q: May I get a close up photo of SpaceShipOne before or after the flight?
A: Yes. The vehicle will be towed past the public viewing area for you to snap your photographs. Then it will be returned to Scaled's hangar for the post-flight activities of its crew. You can also look for great new photos on our website that are posted after each flight. (www.scaled.com)

Q: Will Scaled be conducting tours?
A: No. Scaled Composites is a research and development facility with other proprietary projects. Tours are not permitted.

Q: How do I get more information?
A: Check back here for updates and check www.mojaveairport.com. Click on "special events" to check for airport maps and additional information about the event.

Re:Article Text (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316481)

The server is running great you karma whore

Troll alert! (-1, Troll)

CreamOfWheat (593775) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316559)

"The pilot (actually a new astronaut!) then configures the craft's wing and tail into a drag-queen configuration. This provides a "care-free" anal entry" ..Nice try loser

Re:Troll alert! (0, Offtopic)

rolocroz (625853) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316617)

Wrong! Nowhere does it say that in the article.

Still a karma whore though.

Hey no fair! (5, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316417)

Allen, founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc,

The Vulcans are helping them out. I wont be at all surprised if SpaceShipOne looks like a Zephram Cochran design.

BOOOOOOOOM! (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316420)

Enough said.

Does the Russian's new policy of sending up folks for big amounts of cash (the Japanese reporter, etc) not count as commercial flight?

Re:BOOOOOOOOM! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316553)

why is this insightful? it's obvious the troll didn't even pause to read the article.

i dislike nonsense moderation.

Re:BOOOOOOOOM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316628)

What's the article have to say about Soyuz-for-hire? Nothing.

i dislike nonsense replies

Re:BOOOOOOOOM! (2, Insightful)

Long-EZ (755920) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316644)

I hope you were referring to the two small sonic books that SpaceShipOne makes on reentry. The SS1 rocket design is a very safe solid rocket system using rubber as the fuel and nitrous oxide as the oxidizer. It's been tested as well as it can be, both on the ground and in flight. So far, zero problems.

Yes, the Russian tourist flights were commercial flights, but they were done by a government. This is the first private venture into space. In a year or so, when the technology is more established, it will be possible to go into space for A LOT less than the $20 million that the Russians have been charging. The goal is to provide space tourism for about the cost of a luxury ocean cruise.

more adds (1, Funny)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316426)

so, what's next. satelites with giant adds that change language over different countries. Instead of stars i the nights sky we will see lots of adds. It a possibiblty with corperations going to space.

Re:more adds (4, Insightful)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316765)

Corporations have been going into space since the 1960s. Did you think that your DirecTV dish is picking up signals from NASA?

The reason this is big is that this is private manned spaceflight. As long as the government has a stranglehold on who does and doesn't qualify for space, then there can be no real human expansion. The sooner private interests are getting into space (eventually it'll be orbit, then beyond) the sooner we'll have meaningful colonization of places like the moon and Mars. This is vital to the survival of the species, as long as we're all stuck on this rock, the next comet or solar flare can wipe us all out.

Re:more adds (2, Funny)

Welsh Dwarf (743630) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316768)

A poem that I heard on the BBC once (think it was on 'Tomorrow's World'):

Twinkle Twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
A red giant, or a shooting star?
No, just an advert for a little blue car...

First pre-announced flight? (4, Interesting)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316428)

I think this is the first Space Ship One flight that Scaled has announced in advance. I'm more than a bit surprised. I thought that they would do their first X-Prize-class flight quietly, then announce the next day that they were going for the prize officially.

Good luck to them in any case... I'm sure it'll be a heck of a ride!

Re:First pre-announced flight? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316605)

I doubt this will be their first X-Prize flight. This is just their first suborbital.

X-Prize requires two flights quite close together. I expect that after this flight is analyzed, they'll schedule a pair of flights for the X-Prize. Possibly in August or September.

Re:First pre-announced flight? (1)

GoPlayGo (541427) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316632)

Actually, this is not an X-Prise flight. It will have only the pilot (soon to be astronaut) on board. Later flights will have additionally two passengers as mandated by the prize rules.

Re:First pre-announced flight? (1)

chaidawg (170956) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316676)

Actually, most of the teams will do it with one passenger and weights representing the other two. This way it proves they can lift three people while only putting one in danger.

Re:First pre-announced flight? (1)

kzinti (9651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316754)

My understanding was that you had to have one pilot, dead weight equivalent to two passengers, and three seats. In other words, you couldn't just add weight somewhere a passenger wouldn't really ride, like strapped to the hull.

Re:First pre-announced flight? (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316782)

Sorry, I should have said 100km flight, not X-prize-class. I knew better, just got carried away. :-/

My point was that I'm surprised they're pre-announcing this flight... they must be supremely confident in their vehicle to go for 100km so publicly, after being secretive all the way up until this announcement.

X Prize Claimed on July 4th, 2004? (4, Interesting)

1ione1 (207861) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316440)

To win the X Prize requires that two sub-orbital flights be completed within two weeks. The June 21st first attempt is just less than two weeks before the Fourth of July, America's Independence Day. While I don't expect to hear a public commitment (or even comment) from the Spaceship One team, it looks suspiciously like they're hoping to wrap it up on Independence Day.

They can't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316539)

As the summary points out. They need to notify The Ansari X-Prize foundation at least 30 days prior to any attempt, and both attempts must carry 2 passengers, or deadweight to represent 2 passengers. And this flight isn't carrying the additional weight, nor have they notified the Foundation that this is an official attempt.

They could (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316793)

They have until this Friday to tell the foundation that, if this announced flight is successful, a 3-person flight will be attempted on July 4th.

Re:X Prize Claimed on July 4th, 2004? (5, Insightful)

twostar (675002) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316600)

Except that they are not carrying the required three passengers on this flight. Depending on the outcome of this flight they will then plan for the Xprize.

This is still experimental flight and they're minimizing personel risks.

Re:X Prize Claimed on July 4th, 2004? (2, Insightful)

dgrgich (179442) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316619)

Remember though - this story announces that the June 21st flight doesn't qualify them for the X Prize. They'll need to have two trips within two weeks that meet the mass requirements. This trip will not count. I highly doubt that they'll be able to get two more flights that do meet mass requirements within the two weeks prior to 7/4/2004.

Seems like we'll have a winner soon... (4, Interesting)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316446)

I think they'll manage to get over 100 km in their vessel. Then I assume we'll see them attemt the quick turnaround needed to win the prize and a new launch within two weeks. Then first, having proven their system, will they announce their officall attempt for the prize.

At least that makes sence to me - test that it work first, before they go for the big one. Just the same as NASA did with their first spacecapsules; unmanned ballistic flights first, then a ballistic flight with a monkey, then an unmanned orbital flight and a monkeyed orbital flight - and once they knew their craft would behave as expected under all phases of the mission, they did a couple of manned suborbital flights to prove that humans would behave as expected (they did better than expected AFAIK) before they launced a man into orbit. In fact, it's just the same these guys do; prove that the spacecraft can handle all aspects of the mission before they put three people into it and light the fuse ;)

Murder the jews and burn their bodies... (1)

ohsnap (775907) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316450)

because they are all faggots.

it will work (-1, Offtopic)

dangil (167785) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316459)

why ? because it is my birthday !!!

Magic Carpet Ride (3, Funny)

ol2o (746375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316460)

Will they be playing it?

But can it go to plaid? (3, Funny)

Gldm (600518) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316471)

Sorry, couldn't resist the gratuitous movie quote reference, the names are too similar. :P

That's one small step for Man... (1)

!Freeky2BGeeky (657344) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316474)

One giant leap for ... well for some commercial enterprise at least.

First Unofficial Commercial Vehicle in Space? (3, Funny)

MooseByte (751829) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316484)


"This would make it the first commercial manned vehicle to officially enter space."

Which immediately makes me wonder which was the first commerical manned vehicle to unofficially enter space. Did this guy [snopes.com] finally get some larger balloons?

Best of luck, Space Ship One! May your design be sound and your crew be safe.

My favorite FAQ (3, Funny)

daves (23318) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316486)

Q: Who is invited?
A: Everyone, especially children. They will want to tell their children that they were there to see the event that triggered the industry of private space tourism.

RTFA (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316500)

This flight doesn't qualify for the X-Prize, because they are only carrying one pilot and no extra weight in place of the other two people.

They will have to make 2 more flights later to win the X-Prize.

Pilot? (1)

CyKo (107998) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316523)

"...and the pilot (yet to be announced) will experience about three minutes of weightlessness..." ...or die trying.

Why aren't they sending up a monkey or a peice of meatloaf first? What will it do to the project if the pilot dies or is seriously injured during the flight or the landing?

Re:Pilot? (1)

twostar (675002) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316682)

Because an experience pilot can bring the craft down even with a computer failure.

Believe it or not, but there are people out there willing to risk their lives to further space exploration and I don't think you or anyone else has the right to say they can't pursue their dreams.

Sorry if this sounds harsh or directed at you, I'm just tired of people saying people can't risk their own lives for something great. We let you drive to work in the morning and that's alot more risky then flying an experimental aircraft/spacecraft.

Re:Pilot? (1)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316687)

Because to fly it unmanned you need either A: Advanced computerized flight systems or B: A reliable remote control setup. Either A or B is far more likely to cause problems than it's worth.

Re:Pilot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316711)

Why aren't they sending up... a piece of meatloaf first?
Have you seen a picture of Meat Loaf lately? The guy ain't skinny, and the whole point is to keep weight down.

Re:Pilot? (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316750)

Why aren't they sending up a monkey or a peice of meatloaf first?

Because I don't think monkeys or meatloaf can actually *fly* a spacecraft.

Re:Pilot? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316853)

This is essentially an airplane. It ain't no capsule on top of a big rocket that just follows its course and goes up. This thing needs to be flown up into space.

With that said, it's also a lot safer than sitting on top of a giant uncontrollable bomb. If I were a test pilot then this really wouldn't be that much more dangerous than what I would be doing anyway.

Within two weeks... (4, Funny)

nuclear305 (674185) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316532)

Everyone knows the REAL reason a followup flight is required within two weeks. It's so that the Vulcans can detect the flight, as they will only be surveying on our system for two weeks.

First commercial or private? (4, Insightful)

kzinti (9651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316547)

If successful, the craft - named Space Ship One - will become the world's first commercial manned space vehicle.

I believe that distinction goes to the Russians, who are the first to fly a paying customer in the flesh. It would be more correct to say that Space Ship One is the first privately developed manned craft to reach space. Until they fly a paying customer, I don't count Space Ship One as a vehicle of commerce. Just splitting hairs...

Re:First commercial or private? (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316758)

"commercial manned space vehicle" could mean a Shuttle taking a private company's satellite into orbit...something that was done on a fairly regular basis until the Challenger incident.

Re:First commercial or private? (1)

kzinti (9651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316895)

"commercial manned space vehicle" could mean a Shuttle taking a private company's satellite into orbit...

Which is why I said "in the flesh". Most Shuttle payloads were military or government, and all payloads were so heavily subsidized that they were essentially free... no nongovernment customer could have paid the true cost of getting their payload to orbit.

Re:First commercial or private? (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316780)

There go them dang Russkies again, commercializing everything first!

Just booked a room in Mojave ... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9316591)

... the lady handling reservations at the motel didn't even need to ask what night I wanted (the 20th) -- their phone is apparently being slashdotted, and she said that everyone calling for that night "sounds the same".

Is there some kind of geek accent I wasn't aware of?

Re:Just booked a room in Mojave ... (4, Funny)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316887)

ComicBookGuy: Pfft.. I cannot believe that one of my bretheren speaks as if he is one of the unwashed masses. Allow me to enighten you. When not speaking Klingon, Esperanto, or Latin, the a-typical "geek" sounds much like yours truely in what may also be referred to as the "best accent ever".
Now if you'll excuse me, I must get back to composing my internet rant about how funds for producing Doom 3 have been syphoned off and used to buy new A/D boards for Armadillo Aerospace.

Re:Just booked a room in Mojave ... (4, Funny)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316907)

"Is there some kind of geek accent I wasn't aware of?"

Perhaps you used the words "whoa-hai" or "glayven". That's usually a dead giveaway.

Retro (2, Interesting)

GoPlayGo (541427) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316592)

One of the sweetest things is that the SpaceShipOne looks like rocketships [currell.net] were supposed to look like [rodhunt.com] many years ago. Curvacious.

Yeesh (2, Funny)

Erwos (553607) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316615)

I gotta hope the guy they find to pilot the thing has his life insurance paid up.

-Erwos

Now that's what being a billionaire is all about! (4, Insightful)

mbessey (304651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316652)

You've got to hand it to Paul Allen - here's a guy who knows what to do with more money than he could ever spend in his lifetime. Making it possible for other people to pursue their dreams and possibly improve the world for everyone is just about the best possible use for all that wealth.

-Mark

Re:Now that's what being a billionaire is all abou (1)

polecat_redux (779887) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316789)

Are you sure it's not just another elitest distraction for him? Or perhaps it's yet another business venture - one that takes rich people into space for no other reason than to say they did it, while making wealthier people even more wealthy.

Yes, It's Impressive (4, Interesting)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316764)

But does putting the mass of 3 humans in suborbital flight really make a difference? This is akin to the Space Shuttle in the 1970s: It's designed to go somewhere, but there's nothing up there to go to. Are we going to continue launch satellites, or are we going storm heaven?

This would make an excellent crew transfer vehicle, but a poor 'space truck'. What's needed is a commercially produced heavy lift launch vehicle. 100 tons to LEO would provide the ability to send modular lab or manufacturing stations into orbit, with crews sent up by craft like SpaceShip One. It doesn't have to be totally reusable, just cheap enough that it won't cost ~$1 billion plus the cost of the material being launched. Lower this by half, and maybe large companies could use it as research or manufacturing stations, with the benefit of NASA being able to use them to mount high-quality manned missions to the Moon and Mars, and unmanned missions to deep space, powered by nuclear reactors that would increase the amount of data by increasing both bandwidth and mission length.

Re:Yes, It's Impressive (1)

Kiryat Malachi (177258) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316860)

The whole point of this is that it allows work to be done on cheaper reusable launchers.

100t to LEO would be great, but odds are that if it got built, it still wouldn't see much use outside of government launch contracts at 500 mil per launch. On the other hand, if we can get 1 ton launches to LEO down to $50,000 incremental cost, odds are pretty good that a lot of people would start putting things into space.

It's like computers; we get a lot more done with lots of small PCs than with small numbers of huge mainframes.

Re:Yes, It's Impressive (2, Insightful)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 10 years ago | (#9316882)

It is a start. Once you have something like this, hopefully flying paying passangers on suborbital flights, you have proven that there is a marked for commercal, manned access to space (there allready exists commercal launcers for unmanned sattelites and probes - Sea Launch is one). Once you proven that, companies will start sinking real cash into it - perhaps taking the logical next step and build a 'space hotel' and a shuttle able to ferry more than three people up and down at a time.

One has to prove that a marked exist before the big corps are willing to put money on the table; to suggest that they should go ahead and build a launcer able to put 100 metric tons in LEO is like saying NASA shouldn't have wasted time on Mercury and Gemini, but gone straight to the moon. You must learn to walk before you can run.

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