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SpaceShipOne to Try for Space on Monday

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the life-insurance-paid-up-i-hope dept.

Space 282

CommanderData writes "The first piloted private space flight will occur Monday at 9:30AM ET. SpaceShipOne is planning to ascend to the 62 mile (100 Km) mark and return to land at its takeoff point over the course of 90 minutes. With only a pilot (unnamed at this time) on board this does not qualify as a run for the Ansari X-Prize. If the flight is successful they will likely try for the prize soon afterward..." An anonymous reader adds: "Scaled Composites also has this page about the event."

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Tired of Apple Fanboys? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468005)

Tired of Apple Fanboys? Then use the Apple Fanboy List [slashdot.org] !

Re:Tired of Apple Fanboys? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468042)

Troll???? Mods are on crack! This should be +5, Informative

Awesome! A list of bots! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468124)

So, you managed to compile a list of the bots that post the same three comments over and over? COngratulations for this public utility service! I'll log in and join at once!

Sign me up! (3, Funny)

Pheonix5000 (661842) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468006)

Put me down for a window seat ;)

Re:Sign me up! (0, Flamebait)

domodude (613072) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468412)

Yeah, don't sign me up. I have a feeling that on Tuesday I will be reading a slashdot story titled something along the lines of "Spaceship explodes; one dead."

I wonder when... (3, Funny)

phaetonic (621542) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468010)

what sort of snacks could they serve once this stuff becomes mainstream

Re:I wonder when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468019)

astronaut ice cream

Re:I wonder when... (4, Funny)

cmowire (254489) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468026)

Astronaut ice cream, of course.

(which, incidentally, I've never heard of anybody in space actually eating. ;) )

Re:I wonder when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468132)

in regards to your signature... doesn't FN+F7 toggle on the display if you forgot to switch it before you left?

Re:I wonder when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468355)

*sigh* send me an email.

Yes, Fn-F7 does, but only because I've got it configured that all Fn-F7 *ever* does is set things to LCD-only.

It would have been nice to use the pop-up menu to select a profile, except that it would appear only on the primary screen (which usually means the CRT), which would mean I wouldn't be able to see it to navigate.

When you consider that most of my current issues with the T30 are because somebody wrote software in the most naive way possible, you understand why I hate it.

I already know! (1)

Gldm (600518) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468157)

Astronaut icecream! [explore4fun.com]

Re:I wonder when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468380)

astronaut ice cream..

Come on.. everyone now... make this the most redundantest thread evar!

The pilot (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468025)

was last seen striding towards SpaceShipOne saying "Smoke Me A Kipper, I'll Be Back For Breakfast"

Re:The pilot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468095)

the real question is this:

does the pilot have all his medals? what about a black eye?

smeggin' good reference though. glad there are enough red dwarf loving moderators to score ya up!

Re:The pilot (1)

UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468306)

I'm wondering after it crash lands and burst into flames, does the pilot got a good walk figured out for walking away from it? You know, nice pair of shades, a "I'm the man walk", maybe a nice soundtrack, and of course the all american thumbs up and smile.

I thought for X-Prize it was pilot + 2 sandbags (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468029)

Or namely, if they had a pilot and two weights that approximated humans.

Re:I thought for X-Prize it was pilot + 2 sandbags (3, Informative)

cmowire (254489) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468073)

They are not even trying for an X-prize run this time around. They haven't notified the judges that they are going to make an attempt.

Which, given that they are in the lead, I iamgine that they are going to draw things out a little bit.

I mean, if they are confident in the design, they may fly it crewed and allow a few honored folks to ride passenger (Burt Rutan, Paul Allen, etc) for the actual prize flights.

Is this the Paul Allen one? (5, Funny)

Eberlin (570874) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468033)

If this is the case, I wouldn't go until about version 6. Good luck nonetheless -- as this has to be one of the coolest frontiers (private spaceflight) in space travel lately.

Re:Is this the Paul Allen one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468103)

I'd suggest going on version 5.2 ... anything after that will be too bloated to go anywhere.

Hrm? (2, Funny)

Bob McCown (8411) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468036)

How is this not a candidate for the X-Prize? From XPrize.org [xprize.org] :

Launches a piloted, privately-funded spaceship, capable of carrying 3 people to 100 kilometers

Spaceship one can do that, no? Or can it only carry one person? Thought it had room for 3.

Re:Hrm? (4, Informative)

gradedcheese (173758) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468045)

they have room but this flight will be just the pilot. later thay will carry the 3 people needed for a prize attempt.

Re:Hrm? (1)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468058)

I didn't read the article, but I was under the impression they actually had to launch it with those 3 people on board, not just the one pilot. And then they have to do it again 2 weeks later, or at least have it ready too. Check the xprize rules

Re:Hrm? (1)

VertigoAce (257771) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468108)

They do not have to launch with three people on board. They only need to put three people in to show that they can fit comfortably. The actual flights can be done with one person and enough extra weight to simulate the other two people.

Re:Hrm? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468410)

I have no doubt that the final qualifying flight will include passengers. But for now, they are just trying to test the equipment and make sure that the equipment works. Why endanger three people when the craft is still experimental. They are not even really trying to qualify for the X-Prize at the moment because they are going to take more than the two-week requirement before they fly Space Ship One again.

They already had a problem when it landed where the landing gear failed, but they were able to repair that damage.

BTW, even commercial planes like the 747 or the DC-10 had to be flown with test pilots to be "proven" to the FAA. That was well before passengers were allowed to be on board.

It's for a different award altogether (3, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468063)

> How is this not a candidate for the X-Prize?

Because it's a candidate for the Darwin Awards [darwinawards.com] instead.

Really. I mean, I think I've got a good set of cojones, but this is over the top...

Re:It's for a different award altogether (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468391)

Seriously, how is this over the top, Darwin-wise?

Re:Hrm? (1)

irokitt (663593) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468064)

The rules require it to have three people on board, or enough weight to simulate three people. It also requires two launches within a time frame of two weeks.

Re:Hrm? (5, Funny)

Mr. Bad Example (31092) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468076)

> Launches a piloted, privately-funded spaceship, capable of carrying 3 people to 100 kilometers

Hell, I've got a vehicle that can do that now.

It just does it horizontally over paved surfaces. Details.

Re:Hrm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468332)

Where did you find a dry lake bed 100Km long?

Where did you get the JATO bottles?

Re:Hrm? (2, Informative)

SaDan (81097) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468081)

It has the capability to carry three people, but only one (the pilot) is going on this flight.

You have to have three people IN the thing to qualify for the X-Prize.

Re:Hrm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468082)

Spacship one is a candidate for the x-prize, but this launch is not a qualifing launch, only a test launch. I would imagine that if this goes well, they will announce that they are officially going to try to do the two required launches.

Re:Hrm? (1)

TheWizardTim (599546) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468083)

It does have room for 3 people, but to qualify for the prize it must have 3 people (or a pilot and the weight of 2 people) on board. This flight just has a pilot.

Re:Hrm? (1)

Webcommando (755831) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468127)

This probably isn't a run at the prize because either they don't plan on having the appropriate weight to represent 3 passengers or they don't plan on doing a 14 day turn around.
This is another example of the methodical approach Scaled Composites has taken.

Re:Hrm? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468171)

For the prize, you need to carry one person, and ballast and volume for 2 more, and repeat without replacing more than 10% of the dry mass within 2 weeks. The Xprize committee needs to be notified 30 days before the first attempt.

There was not a 30 day notifiction, and the flight will not carry the extra ballast.

This is not a prize attempt. But the next flight probably will be.

See rules:

http://xprize.org/teams/guidelines.html

Re:Hrm? (1)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468247)

It can carry three people (one pilot, two passengers), but will only carry one pilot for this flight. This is almost certianly for safety reasons. Better one dead pilot instead of three dead astronauts.

They'll repeat with three astronaughts, and then repeat again for the prize. Assuming none of the other teams manage to beat them first.. :)

Re:Hrm? (1)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468347)

Check rule 6 in the Rules section of the website you posted:

6. Entrants must specify and provide the ANSARI X PRIZE Rules Committee with their take-off and landing location, and the date of their launch, not less than 30 days prior to any flight attempt.


Scaled Composites did not register this flight as a prize attempt with the committee 30 days prior. They could have, but didn't, so, this is not a prize flight.

Almost a dupe, call it 1.5 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468037)

I'm glad they didn't put a second story about John Carmack's test lift-off.

Score one for mankind (3, Interesting)

eadint (156250) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468050)

As long as nasa is in charge of americas space program we will never get anywhere.
now at least there is another way for americans to get into space.
think back to the gouy that paied russia a couple mil to go into space, most of the experiments performed in space could be done by the lab rats themselves, why not charge people to go into space and make them work while there up to .
the private industry would be quick to adopt this method, wheras the bubling morons at nasa would say noooo you cant do that.

Re:Score one for mankind (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468105)

I think Burt's making a run for either the moon, or Mars.

I wonder what the "Independant Federation of Planets of Burt" will look like?

Re:Score one for mankind (2, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468261)

> I wonder what the "Independant Federation of Planets of Burt" will look like?

Something like an albatross buggering a duck, but for some reason, we'll all take a second glance and decide that it still looks like the coolest thing we've ever seen fly.

Oh, you said Planets. Nevermind.

Re:Score one for mankind (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468203)

now at least there is another way for americans to get into space.

Actually there isnt. Whilst this is a fantastic achievement for a private endeavour, it falls well short of getting in to space proper in terms of thrust, shielding and other such party goodies.

Re:Score one for mankind (1)

cosmo7 (325616) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468395)

Well we all want to be able to buy tickets to Earth orbit. Just because the X-Prize is for sub-orbital flights doesn't mean we aren't much closer to orbital.

Reasoning: think of how much money is tied up in aviation. Aviation, both commercial and military, is big business. None of that money is funding non-governmental space access because there is no track record for that kind of thing. When Rutan succeeds, the image of the space entrepreneur will be considerably less flaky and investment in private projects will increase.

Re:Score one for mankind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468214)

Maybe because not every moron can perform scientific experiments, even if the experiments are designed for a moron.

Where exactly do you want to go with the manned space program? The moon? NASA did that already. Mars? OK, but are you sure you want to send morons there? Who'll man the whitehouse then?

Re:Score one for mankind (1)

blaberski (215844) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468263)

Their are plenty of Morons in the Democratic Party.

Re:Score one for mankind (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468237)

NASA is a product of our government, which is a product of voters.

NASA's risk aversion is no worse or different than our military's risk aversion.

Blame lack of civic duty, if anything. That means you, too.

Re:Score one for mankind (1)

edrugtrader (442064) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468292)

that is because in russia, an idividual is worthless. if a problem happens in space that the ship is designed to handle itself, then you have 2 options

1. have extremely well trained men aboard to fix the problems.

2. consider the mission a failure and write everything aboard off

america will not write off a dead human. ever. even if the human chooses to write themselves off. i don't agree with that last point, but it's america... and our dicks^H^H^H^H^Hnuclear weapons are bigger than yours, so deal with it.

Re:Score one for mankind (1)

edrugtrader (442064) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468314)

if a problem happens in space that the ship is NOT designed to handle itself...

Re:Score one for mankind (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468307)

The "bubbling morons at NASA" who sent people to the moon on the back of one of these? [neatherd.org]

With all of the money that private space launch groups have wasted with so little to show for it despite standing on the shoulders of giants, it amazes me that people can continually insult the space agencies that have overcome such incredible problems to achieve amazing feats.

And now some people go for a joy ride on a rocket that hardly has to suffer reentry stresses (one of the biggest challenges for cheap space flight) after spending who knows how much money, and people act like it's manna from heaven.

I'm excited to see what happens, too. I hope they make it - it will be an amazing triumph. But, honestly, all I can say is (with no disregard to Rutan himself): It's about time. What more do all of the private space companies that were granted all of that dotcom money need to get a non-orbital spaceflight in the footsteps of NASA - explicit blueprints?

Re:Score one for mankind (5, Interesting)

nasor (690345) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468398)

"The "bubbling morons at NASA" who sent people to the moon on the back of one of these? [neatherd.org]

With all of the money that private space launch groups have wasted with so little to show for it despite standing on the shoulders of giants, it amazes me that people can continually insult the space agencies that have overcome such incredible problems to achieve amazing feats."


Yes, NASA accomplished great things back in the 1960s, but that doesn't excuse them from the horrific behavior that they've demonstrated since then. Most Americans would be horrified if they knew how much money NASA really wastes, and how much harm it does to the commercial space industry. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-NASA because I'm against space exploration; quite the opposite. I dislike NASA precisely because I care about space exploration, and they've done a criminally poor job of it since the 1970s.

Consider the space shuttle, which is an especially low point even for NASA: The shuttle was built to replace the Saturn family of launch vehicles. The Shuttle can launch about 60,000 lbs into orbit for a price of around $8,000/lb. The Saturn, on the other hand, could launch about 212,000 lbs into orbit or 100,000 lbs to the moon for a cost of only about $5,000/lb after adjusting for inflation to 2004 dollar. Yes, NASA spent a colossal amount of time and money to build a launch vehicle that was ¼ as powerful and much more expensive.

Even today, there are commercial disposable rockets (like the newest Titan and Delta classes) that can launch virtually any commercial satellite payloads for 'only' $170 million, vs. the average $500 million cost of a shuttle launch. But why, you probably wonder, would anyone use the shuttle if such inexpensive alternatives exist? The answer is the NASA has spent years subsidizing the shuttle costs, only charging around $80 million to launch satellites for people. This has been absolutely devastating to the companies that manufacture commercial spacecraft (Boeing, Lockheed, and Orbital Sciences) since even though they have far superior products, they can't compete with a NASA that is willing to launch payloads at enormous loss. NASA has basically been using taxpayer money to kill a vital U.S. industry.

By far the most horrific part of the whole thing is that NASA has spent years using 'science' to justify their $500 million shuttle launches. Sorry, but with a very few exceptions there aren't any science experiments conducted on the shuttle that justify that kind of expense. While things are undoubtedly learned, it's small potatoes compared to the sort of scientific research that you could conduct here on earth with a comparable amount of money. If you submitted a grant request to the National Science Foundation for $500 million to perform the sorts of experiments that they do on the shuttle, they would laugh their heads off at you.

Re:Score one for mankind (1)

Blastercorps (762119) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468387)

NASA was founded in the same spirit as this project. It's only recently that politicians (I shudder at the word) have been pulling NASA's strings. They are very much more insterested in PR and avoiding bad PR than real exploration and science. Nowadays NASA has a severely inadequate budget and STILL can't risk a single failure which would result in negative press.

This shows that not all Microsofties are evil (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468052)

Naughty, maybe, but certainly not evil.

Re:This shows that not all Microsofties are evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468343)

Offtopic, perhaps, if Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen wasn't a financial backer of Scaled Composites. Check out http://www.technewsworld.com/story/34205.html

But since I'm an A.C. with no Karma to burn it doesn't really matter.

Fun ride (0)

planckscale (579258) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468060)

I wonder what kind of G's the pilot will experience? Woo hoo

Re:Fun ride (2, Funny)

Mr. Bad Example (31092) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468106)

> I wonder what kind of G's the pilot will experience?

With any luck, not these [anecdotage.com] .

Re:Fun ride (3, Informative)

cmowire (254489) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468133)

Last time he hit 3.5Gs. I doubt that they will want it to go too much more than that operationally, because it's not good for the pilot.

Re:Fun ride (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468369)

3.5 G's is a rather moderate number for a fighter pilot. It's not like it's at the upper reaches of human endurance. Yes, you need a G suit because at 4 G's unsuited you start to go into blackout territory, but it's certainly not any real problem for an astronaut.

the pilot? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468084)

last i checked, i was the pilot... if i haven't been named... have i been replaced?!

I'll be there (4, Insightful)

Thagg (9904) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468097)

I loved the fact that the Scaled Composite site says that "especially kids" are welcome, they want to introduce the next generation to private space flight. I'm taking my 14 year old daughter and two of her friends.

We're currently planning on camping at the Tehachapi glider park Sunday night, then driving to Mojave at 4:00 Monday morning. We'll see if that works -- there is so much publicity here and at other sites that it may be insanely crowded.

I've been a fan of Rutan since the '79 Popular Science cover of the VariEze, and I've got a copy of the plans for his LongEZ (too big a job for me to complete, though...) I have been looking forward to this event for a long time, I can't wait!

Thad

Re:I'll be there (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468268)

So what does your daughter look like? how 'bout her friends?

Me too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468300)

I doubt it will be much of a show, but I just want to be there for a piece of history.

I reserved a room in Mojave within an hour of the announcement, and we're riding the motorcycle up from the San Diego area ... it's our secret anti-traffic weapon. ;-)

Re:I'll be there (1)

cmowire (254489) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468308)

I, too, will be there.

We're driving there after dinner from Ventura because we figure that the line is going to be starting before 3:00 AM. ;)

Space Tourism (1)

vijaya_chandra (618284) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468104)

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.

That'd be cool



In Soviet India [yahoo.com] space ships launch you

Re:Space Tourism (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468356)

They will want to tell their children that they were there to see the event that triggered the industry of private space tourism.

More like see the explosion that triggered congressional restrictions on future attempts.

Don't get your hopes up too far. (4, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468123)

As I understand it, this ship can't make orbit, couldn't come back from one if it did, and has no clear path to an orbital vehicle. It's designed to win the prize and nothing else. Not that it's not an important milestone, mind you, but it's just a dead-end.

The real import of this is that people are trying to get to space without the government getting in their way, and willing to risk failure. They're doing things themselves instead of sitting on their hands waiting for somebody else to do something. It's this pioneering attitude that will take us into space to stay, not the NASA mindset of "risk nothing, even if it means nothing gets done."

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468180)

As I understand it, this ship can't make orbit, couldn't come back from one if it did, and has no clear path to an orbital vehicle.


So was the German V2. Yet, it was a V2 (renamed to "Redstone"), plus a lot of small solid-fuel rockets, that put the first American satellite in orbit.

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468230)

The main problem, I gather, is that the fuel used just doesn't have the delta-V needed. Another poster mentions using the technology to put up satilites, but unless my very well informed source Jerry Pournelle [jerrypournelle.com] is wrong, that's not going to happen.

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (2, Interesting)

Hays (409837) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468190)

just because it doesn't reach orbit doesn't mean there's no value to it.

There's a whole lot of space science that happens in the altitude range that spaceship one will reach.

http://www.wff.nasa.gov/pages/soundingrockets.ht ml

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468267)

I never said it has no value, only that its value is limited. Expecting more from it than is possible is just setting yourself up to be dissapointed. Celebrate the achievement for what it is, as I will, but be realistic. Not only is it usefull for high altitude research, it may well inspire somebody to build a ship that can reach orbit. If so, it will have justified itself 100 times.

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (1)

Gldm (600518) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468195)

It's important as Proof It Can Be Done. Even though this vehicle has no clear path to an orbital version, it'll be much easier for any proposal for a bigger, more powerful, more practical vehicle to get sponsorship or funding from commercial interests. Before X-prize ships started doing test flights, most companies would think you'd be crazy offering them service to space for payloads, but I bet a successful 100km flight will change alot of minds and open them to the possibility.

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (4, Insightful)

noahbagels (177540) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468208)

Dude - this is a pretty darn lame comment.

Do you ever watch the discovery channel? Ever heard of the X-Planes? There were what, 15+ of them, and none of them could carry 3 people nor carry out a useful 'mission'. It's called research.

The X-Prize is not about building a hypersonic airliner, nor about going to the moon. It's a prize that at this appropriate time in man-machine innovation encouraged some awesome engineers and pioneers to break the old mold of waiting for the government to 'do the big things'.

Don't know about you, but I think 3 minutes of weightlessness in a super-efficient aircraft making sub-orbital flight, done by private individuals is not dead-end. The first (few) that accomplish this feat will likely prove to NASA and the ESA that single gigantic booster rockets are neither efficient nor as re-usable as we were all lead to believe.

Rock on Scaled Composits!

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (4, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468344)

You make an important point, but misunderstand mine. I'm not knocking the achievement, just pointing out its limits. This ship was designed to win the prize and nothing else. It wasn't designed to reach orbit because the terms on the prize didn't specify that. All I'm asking is that you be realistic about this, and not expect it to do things it was never intended for.

As far as the X projects, I probably know more about them than most people, because I know people who worked on them. This prize is very much in their tradition, and I hope the tradition continues.

Once this prize is won, we need another, specifying that the same vehicle reaches orbit, returns to Earth and then does it again within a limited time frame. I hope somebody will have the vision to offer one.

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (1)

chia_monkey (593501) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468418)

Don't know about you, but I think 3 minutes of weightlessness in a super-efficient aircraft making sub-orbital flight, done by private individuals is not dead-end. The first (few) that accomplish this feat will likely prove to NASA and the ESA that single gigantic booster rockets are neither efficient nor as re-usable as we were all lead to believe.

Ditto my brother. I think the things that can be learned from this will be beyond comprehension. It will have researchers around the world going "wow, I never thought of using this material or that kind of system." And proving to the world, the world's space agencies, etc that this can all be done for less than $4.5 billion a flight (imaginary number, don't quote me or anything) will be a bonus too. It may have some agencies starting programs, have other programs looking for ways to remain competitive, etc.

"Dead-end" is such a harsh term. This could be the beginning of a "private space race" with top universities around the nation (Go Carnegie Mellon!) going to space and doing their own research and not having to rely on NASA. Think of what we could learn...and how quickly we could learn all this. Good googly...now I'm getting all excited...

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (2, Insightful)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468223)

It's designed to win the prize and nothing else. Not that it's not an important milestone, mind you, but it's just a dead-end.

I agree with your first statement, but not your second. Just because a specific vehicle isn't designed to go into orbit, doesn't mean it's a dead end. Firstly, they're planning on sub-orbital flights, mostly for tourism. Secondly, the technologies used may be scalable to a larger, orbital model. Think of a smaller, design prototype. You have to demonstrate the smaller model works before you can scale up.

The designs and business practices of ALL the X-Prize contestants will be monitored closely. Which designs work, which don't? Which are more expensive? More reliable. That's the whole point about the X-Prize, to get people (engineers, businessmen, and the public in general) thinking about spaceflight for the common man.

So I would argue that SpaceShipOne is not a dead end in the sense that it is a requirement for a scaled up, orbital "SpaceShipTwo".

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (4, Interesting)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468276)

More susinctly: SpaceShipOne is as much of a dead end as Mercury-Redstone was.

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (1)

ndogg (158021) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468296)

It's this pioneering attitude that will take us into space to stay, not the NASA mindset of "risk nothing, even if it means nothing gets done."

That's a little ironic when considering that the reason the US beat the Soviets to putting humans on the moon was precisely because the Soviet's line of thinking was exactly that, and NASA had cut a lot of corners to get there.

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468333)

Replace SS1 with a Pegasus-like launcher, presto- you've got a (small) LEO launcher.

Go check out the scaled.com page, specifically here:
http://scaled.com/projects/tierone/info.htm

note the info about the WK carrier:
http://scaled.com/projects/tierone/data_ sheets/PDF /Lithograph%20-%20White%20Knight%20p2.pdf

I quote:
"Other White Knight mission capabilites include reconnaissance, surveillance, atmospheric research, data relay, telecommunications, imaging & booster launch for micro-satellites."

Re-read those last four words...

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468357)

The engine used in this mission is going to be reused by SpaceDev as an upper stage to put things and maybe people into orbit. Without SpaceShipOne, this wouldn't have happened. Rutan is very talented. I expect that he already has more designs ready.

http://www.spacedev.com/newsite/templates/subpag e_ article.php?pid=475

Look at the bottom of that article.

Re:Don't get your hopes up too far. (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468423)

I'll take your critique of Rutan's designs more seriously when I see your designs. I'll be glad to critique them.

You fAIL 1t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468125)

for a living got prima doonas to worse and worse. As Daaren Reed, which

X-Day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468150)

Clearly, this is just the first test before X-Day (July 5th, 7 am). X-Prize, X-Day... pretty obvious.

"Build your own ship!" - Rev. Ivan Stang

I love it (4, Insightful)

TheAdventurer (779556) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468156)

It is great to see private individuals reach for achievements such as this. I hope it goes well for them. Personally, I find the private space race to be quite compelling and inspiring. It is a testament to ingenuity and individualism (i.e. we don't need a big collective or nebulous government agency to achieve somethign great. Rather, just the vision of an intelligent individual and his or her ability to organize and lead a talented team).

SpaceDev, the engine designer will reuse the tech (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468159)

The technology used in this launch is going to be reused by SpaceDev to put satellites up for only $5 million a piece. This illustrates the direct effect of the X-prize.

Currently, satellite launches can cost in the hundreds of millions.

Now if only their were more prizes.

What about Iridium? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468349)

How hard would it be to put up a competitor to Iridium, but using more current electronics and a cheaper system like this? The satellites wouldn't have to be nearly so sophisticated and LEO would be more than sufficient.

That is just one of several businesses that currently are locked out of space because of the current government monopoly on spaceflight. Here is a toast to the commercial spaceflight. **Cheers**

Planet Express (4, Interesting)

deathcloset (626704) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468188)

I wonder; what kind of approval do you need in order to fly into space? Is there some governmental green light?

I ask because it seems to me that a private, reusable, unmanned delivery spacecraft could be a valuable commodity in certain instances. It could certainly get to space and back much faster than something requiring full-fledged life support.

Let's take delivery of donor organs. Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm used to it), certain organs must be transplanted very soon after the host dies. So if someone in Japan needs said organ and someone in New York is killed in a motorcycle accident, a private company could ultra-priority ship this organ overseas via a 90 minute sub-orbital flight.

Or would such a market just be too niche to be viable?

What other kinds of things would someone be willing to pay any price (exorbitant to be sure) to get something somewhere ASAsoP (As Soon As Sub-Orbitally Possible)?

Re:Planet Express (1)

cmowire (254489) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468252)

You need a *lot* of approvals to operate even experimentally in space. Rutan has been going on in public about how this is only a prototype and there's no way in hell he's going to be able to do it commercially because the differences in regulation.

The problem is that the past experience with boosters is ~95% reliability, which means that every 20th rocket blows up, usually catastrophically. So folks aren't going to be comfortable until we've got more of an airliner-like reliability going.

The whole sub-orbital space industry is wanting to be able to do things like that, however. The only difference between ASAsoP and a joyride weather there's organs or people in the back seat.

Re:Planet Express (4, Informative)

spurious cowherd (104353) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468366)

http://ast.faa.gov/aboutast/701complete.htm

more detailed PDFs also at

http://ast.faa.gov/lrra/stats_notices.htm

Re:Planet Express (1)

James Turpin (789479) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468322)

The regulations are still somewhat dynamic, and are being ironed out between the government regulating agencies and the private entrepeneurs.

Re:Planet Express (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468378)

I wonder; what kind of approval do you need in order to fly into space? Is there some governmental green light?

Yes, you need approval from the Commercial Space Transportation division of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA/CST).

In the colloquial, you need to call the tower for clearance.

KFG

What? (0, Troll)

bLindmOnkey (744643) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468200)

Only 3 minutes in space? What a rip!

If you thought the airline food was bad... (1)

Wild Bill TX (787533) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468217)

...just wait until you take a bite of the food designed for consumption in zero-gravity!

Mojave Airport was just declared a spaceport (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468229)

If only I could get together $100,000...

3 persons!! (0, Troll)

vijaya_chandra (618284) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468240)

The X-Prize what? mentions
Privately finances, builds & launches a spaceship, able to carry three people to 100 kilometers (62.5 miles)

How come they don't explicitly specify any weight?!?

Not that the participants would like to cheat, but one can send 10 persons like me in spaceshipOne

In Soviet India [yahoo.com] space ships launch you

Re:3 persons!! (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468275)

Not that the participants would like to cheat


I wouldn't bet on that...


one can send 10 persons like me in spaceshipOne


If they are right-to-lifers, they can send a billion fertilized ova.

And in this corner... (1)

EssTiDee (784920) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468248)

I assume that there's a few CO's of VALVe software working for this team, to compete with Jon Carmack's team...

So they both say they'll be launching these *ahem* projects next week? the week after? Mebbe they should spend less time building model rockets, and write some software? Doom3? HL2? we're waiting.....

Let me bounce this off you.... (4, Funny)

corngrower (738661) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468289)

Did anyone else read the article about the type of
rocket fuel that Space Ship One uses? It's a solid fueled rocket with a gas oxidizer. I'm sure you'll get a laugh out of it.
Here's the link [space.com]

yawn-inducing conventional engine (4, Informative)

bani (467531) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468337)

...there is nothing radical or unusual about their engine. it is tried and tested technology. fwiw so is just about everything else about their vehicle. they're just the first to put it all together in one package and actually do it.

On TV Live? (3, Interesting)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468303)

Does anyone know if this will be aired live? CNN? BBC News? Local Cable Access 4?

How about streamed on the net?

Check out the updated info page, includes posters! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9468368)

http://scaled.com/projects/tierone/info.htm

If they succeed (2, Interesting)

_ph1ux_ (216706) | more than 9 years ago | (#9468417)

This will prove how much of a bumbling group of incompetant morons work at NASA. The fact that nasa has made almost zero progress in the last 25 years with regards to opening up space as a more affordable frontier is laughable. Contempable even.

The amount of corruption and coverup that takes place within all arms of NASA is a reflection of the incompetance and idiocy that is now the symbol for America at all levels.

Hopefully in the event that SpaceShipOne is not sabotaged into failure, we will see a renewal of space interest - and a cleaning of house at all levels of government where responsibility for oppressed civil space programs reside.

(yes you fools it IS a conspiracy)
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