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SpaceShipOne Flight Not as Perfect as it Seemed

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the still-higher-than-my-car-can-get dept.

Space 609

ArbiterOne writes "SpaceShipOne's flight wasn't as perfect as it seemed, according to Burt Rutan and New Scientist. Apparently, at one point in the descent, the pilot completely lost attitude control. According to him, "If that had happened earlier, I would never have made it and you all would be looking sad right now." Could this pose some problems for the X-Prize contender?"

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Still a great flight (5, Insightful)

PFactor (135319) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494891)

I don't see anyone doing any better than they did (yet).

Re:Still a great flight (5, Funny)

RevDobbs (313888) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494932)

From Post:
Apparently, at one point in the descent, the pilot completely lost attitude control.

Besides, isn't that usually a "nut behind the wheel" or PEBKAC kinda issue?

Dictionnary to the rescue (4, Informative)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495138)

Attitude of an aircraft: The relationship of longitudinal axis (fuselage) and lateral axis (wings) to the earth's surface or any plane parallel to the earth's surface.

Re:Still a great flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495140)

USSR? USA? Ring any bells?

Attitude? (0, Redundant)

Chilliwilli (114962) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494894)

Is this a mistake or do pilots really have control over their attitude?

Re:Attitude? (4, Interesting)

PFactor (135319) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494922)

Sure. They can roll the vehicle until its upside down if they want. In space, I think they have even more control - even being able to point the nose of the craft AWAY from the direction of travel or straight up (subjectively speaking, of course).

Re:Attitude? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495123)

I'd be somewhat irritated if the pilot wrinkled his craft's nose at me.

Re:Attitude? (2, Funny)

slimak (593319) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494927)

If so, sign me up to participate in attitude control (but install the unit in my wife).

Re:Attitude? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495113)

So she can always be bitchy?

Re:Attitude? (5, Informative)

JesseL (107722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494944)

Attitude [reference.com] is the crafts orientation. The article originally said altitude control, I emailed CmdrTaco to fix it before the article went live.

Re:Attitude? (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495129)

great so now we point out and make fun of the editors when they actually fix something?

good for you.

Re:Attitude? (0)

double-oh three (688874) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494951)

I belive that they meant altitude controlers.

Re:Attitude? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9494976)

No, they do in fact mean attitude... i.e which way they're pointing

Re:Attitude? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9494954)

Is this a mistake or do pilots really have control over their attitude?

Uh... I would hope they have control over the plane's attitude.

Main Entry: at-ti-tude

5 : the position of an aircraft or spacecraft determined by the relationship between its axes and a reference datum (as the horizon or a particular star)

Re:Attitude? (2, Informative)

deadweight (681827) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495004)

Attitude is an aeronautical term for orientation as well as a term for someone's emotional state, so you can stop with all the typo jokes now. It IS possible for lack of attitude control to affect the pilot's attitude. Something like going from "This is fun" to "HolyfskingShit!" Deadweight - Commercial Pilot

Re:Attitude? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495158)

Well Said!

Luke - private pilot.

Re:Attitude? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495077)

Yes. Both over the attitude of the aircraft (pitch, yaw, roll), and over their personal attitude (how they approach flying).

So ? (2, Insightful)

mirko (198274) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494898)

He did it en ended alive, so he's more than a pioneer, he's a surviving one :)

Re:So ? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495035)

So, huh...

Maybe he and his boss Rutan are concerned about the public getting excited about jumping into a tin can which only through sheer coincidence did not kill the test pilot?

This announcement means as much to me as the flight itself, and paradoxically lends support to those comments in the voting area about Scaled Composites being trustworthy enough to warrant flying their craft.

It's perfectly normal (5, Insightful)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494899)

Build...test...improve...retest...etc
It's how aeronautical design's been done for decades. I very much doubt this'll be a major setback for them.

It should have been expected (5, Insightful)

Jetson (176002) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495042)

The article says that he lost attitude control at the end of the burn as the ship was leaving the atmosphere. What else would you expect, considering the primary attitude controls are atmospheric flight surfaces? Once the ailerons, elevators and rudders have no air to push agains you're pretty much stuck with gyros, attitude thrusters or a controllable main engine thrust nozzle. This craft had NONE of those, so It would be completely reasonable to expect it to tumble until the air friction had built up enough for the fins to reorient the aircraft along the motion vector.

Re:It should have been expected (5, Informative)

worst_name_ever (633374) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495101)

Once the ailerons, elevators and rudders have no air to push agains you're pretty much stuck with gyros, attitude thrusters or a controllable main engine thrust nozzle. This craft had NONE of those

SpaceShipOne does indeed have cold gas attitude thrusters. You can see a photo of one firing during a test flight here [scaled.com] .

Re:It should have been expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495102)

According to this [aviationnow.com] , SS1 does have attitude thrusters.

Re:It should have been expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495108)

It actually has full redundant RCS in the nose and wing tips.

Re:It's perfectly normal (5, Funny)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495088)

Yeah, developing spacecraft is a lengthy process, just look at NASA. But they'll get it right. I mean, it's not rocket science.

Re:It's perfectly normal (2)

caswelmo (739497) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495122)

Actually, 50% of people are dumber than the "median" person. ;)

Re:It's perfectly normal (-1, Troll)

stanmann (602645) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495157)

I know you are joking, because developing spacecraft is exactly rocket science, and since spaceship one is a rocket plane...

That's rocket science too.

Maybe (1)

SMOC (703423) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494903)

Maybe there is a valid reason why Nasa is so expensive after all.

Indeed (5, Insightful)

adequacy (544972) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495068)

Maybe there is a valid reason why Nasa is so expensive after all.

Indeed! NASA never has accidents that kill people. Through the mass application of science and billions of taxpayer dollars, all risk has been eliminated from space travel. Carry on, sir.

This says quite a bit about... (5, Interesting)

Dagny Taggert (785517) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494906)

...the pilot's skill. However, this is to be expected with any prototype. It's always the early pioneers who take the risks; I guarantee that Rutan and crew are working on fixing the attitude problem as we speak. And, knowing those guys, the next flight will be perfect.

All that training... (1, Funny)

Ferretski (160396) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494911)

And these so-called "experts" still lose control of their attitude. Surely they would have come to grips with their emotional problems before leaving.

attitude control? (0, Redundant)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494913)

Did he get all mean or start crying or what?

Re:attitude control? (0)

justkarl (775856) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494940)

That, or he's got a wicked case of Tourette's...

Engine cowling (0, Redundant)

Nihynjahs (680486) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494914)

I also heard on the news thay had a problem with the engine cowling coming loose or breaking, something along those lines.

Re:Engine cowling (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9494935)

RTFA - this is covered.

attitude control (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9494915)

Yes, at one momement his attitude went down -- he became very sad... or does he mean altitude?

Re:attitude control (2, Informative)

jabberjaw (683624) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494971)

No, it is attitude [wikipedia.org]

Re:attitude control (1)

conway (536486) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495003)

Attitude of an aircraft is basically the orientation of the nose relative to the horizon. (i.e. plane pointing up or down, etc.)

Its (possibly) called attitude because it resembles a person's mood - whether the face is pointing up or down ;)

Re:attitude control (1)

MyHair (589485) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495104)

Its (possibly) called attitude because it resembles a person's mood - whether the face is pointing up or down ;)

I kinda thought attitude was more spatial in origin and later applied to moods. A quick check of the dictionary leaves me unsure.

Too Much (1)

Seth Finklestein (582901) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494918)

I think that the author of this so-called "article" is really just fishing for visitors by posting this FUD.

During a space descent, it is perfectly normal to "lose altitude control." You're going down. You don't need that much control until you get to about 10,000 feet. According to the article, the so-called "loss of control" occurred above 60,000 feet -- well above the range of passenger aircraft thanks to the grounding of Concorde.

Frankly, SpaceShipOne has already won the X-Prize and no amount of media fearmongering will undo that.

Sincerely,
Seth Finklestein
Space Expert

Re:Too Much (1)

chachob (746500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494961)

thats all good, but it said attitude control, not altitude.

Re:Too Much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495063)

read the other posts that actually define 'attitude control' in relation to planes and spaceships. attitude is correct.

and SpaceShipOne has no chance of winning the X-Prize unless they can
a) fit 3 people it in at once
b) launch the same craft twice in 14 days
c) reach an altitude of 62 miles

they only have one of them so far, they could get two down fairly quickly (easily?) but as i understand it, SpaceShipOne can only carry one person.

Re:Too Much (1)

malfunct (120790) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495124)

I think that they only need to have the weight of 3 people on board not three actual people.

This is why more people didnt go (5, Insightful)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494920)

A few of my friends were very surprised that this run wouldn't count at all for the X-Prize, since it didn't have enough people or weight to replace them.

This is exactly why, it was a test run, things can, and did (though fortunatly not bad enough to have resulted in loss of life) go wrong.

I think this was exactly the right way for them to have approached this, go up with as little extra as possible, see what goes well and what doesn't, and make revisions based on that. Though an extra 300lbs might not have mattered much with this particular problem, in other cases it could have turned a small problem into a disaster.

Re:This is why more people didnt go (1)

stanmann (602645) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494980)

Well CNN and FOX were reporting that this was an X attempt, which could have led to some of the confusion. I had to explain the x-rules to my wife and explain why it wasn't a qualifying x-attempt and thusly why another identical run in 14 days wouldn't necessarily prove anything.

Re:This is why more people didnt go (1)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495021)

Yeah, I have seen a lot of mis-reporting on that as well. The rules really didn't seem to complicated to me, I am surprised more 'news' services didn't do more fact checking on a story such as this.

I of course live in the projects in brooklyn, so I don't know if it is apropriate to site UPN as a 'news' source.

Re:This is why more people didnt go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495055)

Also the news is reporting that he went into space. That's a mere technicality. He was BARELY in space and still 400km from even the lowest low earth orbit. This is not a big deal people, NASA and the USSR was doing this kind of stuff over 40 years ago.

Re:This is why more people didnt go (5, Insightful)

stanmann (602645) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495117)

Well, because TECHNICALLY he entered space. He IS an Astronaut.

100km is defined as space... and its not a big deal that its being done, the big deal is that he did it for cheap.

If I get my wife Barely pregnant, barring complications she will nevertheless have a baby

if I barely hit you with a hand grenade, you will be just as dead.
if I barely hit your house with a nuclear weapon, you will still be dead.

the wright brothers barely went 100 meters, but it was powered flight.

Barely is the difference between hitting and missing.

Re:This is why more people didnt go (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495141)

> I had to explain the x-rules to my wife and explain why it wasn't a qualifying x-attempt...

I originally read that as "I had to x-plain the x-rules to my x-wife..." Changes the tone of the sentence somewhat. =D

Re:This is why more people didnt go (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495161)

the real reason why this didn't count also was that it wasn't announced early enough to the xprize officials.. a test flight is a test flight still..

speaking as someone who knows nothing about flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9494923)


Apparently, at one point in the descent, the pilot completely lost attitude control.

This just makes me picture the pilot swearing and punching the control panels.

Simmer it down (-1, Redundant)

krony (213134) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494929)

The last thing we need is for our astronauts to have a temper!

who else (2, Insightful)

chachob (746500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494934)

is in a better position than them to win the prize when this group is the only one who has achieved the goal, whether with luck or not?

Altltltitude (-1, Redundant)

fuck_this_shit (727749) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494937)

Apparently, at one point in the descent, the pilot completely lost attitude control


"YOU STUPID CUNTBADGERING PIECE OF SHITE!"

Re:Altltltitude (0)

Dogers (446369) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495008)

if i had mod points, id certainly give you funny - dammit, that made me laugh out loud!

I can see it happening.. pilot zooming along normally, *clunk*, "YOU STUP*&(^&%?%*&..", regains control, lands, adjusts tie, steps out.

Still 62% willing to fly? (5, Interesting)

johannesg (664142) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494939)

The poll indicates 62% of the /. crowd would happily fly in that ship on monday. It would be interesting to repeat the poll now and see if it is still this high.

And despite this: it *is* rocket science, and an experimental vehicle to boot. It isn't surprising there are some problems. Let's all be happy the pilot actually survived.

Re:Still 62% willing to fly? (1)

deadmongrel (621467) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494987)

The poll indicates 62% of the /. crowd would happily fly in that ship on monday. It would be interesting to repeat the poll now and see if it is still this high.
Easier said than done. I bet a lot of people who said they would fly on the poll didn't really mean it.

uhh... HELLO! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9494941)

Who said it was perfect in the first place? Every news story I read talked about the problems they had. Where were you guys?

Proofreaders Galore (0, Redundant)

Twinky (32219) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494958)

I don't think its a problem of the vessel if the pilot loses attitude control.

(Pilot Transcript:)
"Damn Spaceship! Bring me home already! This is never going to work! Help! Why didn't I learn something useful? Mummy!"

Re:Proofreaders Galore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495012)

I don't think its a problem if Twinky has no fucking idea what the 'attitude' of an aircraft is. Twinky can look it up and maybe learn something today.

Could this pose problems? (5, Funny)

PinchDuck (199974) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494959)

"Could this pose some problems for the X-Prize contender?"

Of course it could, bubblehead. Getting into space is HARD.

Re:Could this pose problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495131)

PinchDuck: "Getting into space is HARD."

NASA Barbie? Is that you?

His view... (2, Funny)

cliffa3 (789920) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494967)

must have been obstructed by the M&M's flying around.

For all the Attitude Jokes.... (3, Informative)

Mz6 (741941) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494969)

Attitude control is defined as:

"The position in space of a spacecraft or aircraft. A satellite's attitude can be measured by the angle the satellite makes with the object it is orbiting, usually the Earth. Attitude determines the direction a satellite's instruments face. The attitude of a satellite must be constantly maintained; this is known as attitude control."

You're welcome.

Re:For all the Attitude Jokes.... (5, Funny)

thogard (43403) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495076)

One of my favorite t-shirts has a picture of an Artifical Horizon showing a plane in an inverted dive with the words "Bad Attitude".

Re:For all the Attitude Jokes.... (1)

xutopia (469129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495148)

I'm surprised they use a word which ressembles so much altitude.

Attitude control? (3, Funny)

trickycamel (696375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494970)

F#$@ing X prize!! Damn this m*******ing piece of flying s#@$! No way there going to drag me back into this tin can next week! I WILL HUNT YO... oh look, shiny wings!!!

Yes - Attitude, not altitude (1)

strictnein (318940) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494972)

It seems many slashdotters need to take a look at the basics of airplanes [centennialofflight.gov] .

Here's a nice picture too [centennialofflight.gov] .

Re:Yes - Attitude, not altitude (0, Flamebait)

banzai51 (140396) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495109)

You could use a rectal-cranium inversion stat!

An Easy Fix... (1)

YodaToo (776221) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494977)

Just rig that baby with some of the inflatable cushions that we used on the Mars Rovers. If something goes wrong we'll just bounce him around the landing site for a while.

attitude definition (1)

oomis (600367) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494981)

attitude n. - The orientation of an aircraft's axes relative to a reference line or plane, such as the horizon. - The orientation of a spacecraft relative to its direction of motion.

Time for a hotfix release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9494983)

Version Control:

SpaceShipOne | v1.0 | 06/21/04 | Initial Draft
SpaceShipOne | v1.1 | Pending | Minor bugfixes

This isn't what I expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9494985)

I'm really impressed with the White Knight launching vehicle and the new rocket design but all the Spaceship One team have proven that given enough money, anyone can build a spaceship. We knew that already however. I don't suppose anyone thought that a prerequisite for space travel was for it to be sponsered by a government.

Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought the XPrize was a contest for amateurs.

Re:This isn't what I expected (2, Informative)

stanmann (602645) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495044)

You misunderstood, the XPrize is a contest for civilians.

going around the world on a raft is a contest for amateurs, going into space is a job for Hobbyists, which aren't necessarily doing it for free, only for fun. ANd Paul allen is by definition is an ameteur since he's never funded space exploration before.

Re:This isn't what I expected (2, Insightful)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495084)

I would not call Scaled Composites and Burt Rutan "anyone."

Re:This isn't what I expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495092)

That actually emphasises my point.

This project is so young (-1, Redundant)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494990)

Youngsters always have an attitude problem.
It's mother and I will have a stern talking to it, perhaps a time out.
That should clear things up.

Attitude control (1, Funny)

jfengel (409917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9494994)

"Captain, we've lost attitude control."

"Well fix the f*cking thing!"

Damn Mother (0, Redundant)

Gettinglucky (655935) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495005)

My mother always said if you have a bad attitude you are not going to succeed.

Obviously she is lying cause he lost control of his attitude and succeeded!!

'tude (0, Redundant)

vurg (639307) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495009)

Apparently, at one point in the descent, the pilot completely lost attitude control. Did he start start throwing things and pointing fingers?

Re:'tude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495100)

Yeah, M&Ms. :)

Nice to see them so honest (5, Interesting)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495011)

This is something that has always impressed me with Rutan; he has always been pretty honest with regards to the performance and safety of his designs.

He could have just as easily hid the issues and blamed the time to fix the problem on the FAA or a vendor (like the rocket motor supplier).

The attitude changes on motor light are significant problems that will have to be addressed although I wonder if it is due to center of gravity changes caused by the fully fueled motor. The big bang and deformed panel is a potentially bigger problem and may require significant changes to the structure.

myke

Minor Issue + Space = Scary, but keep trying! (5, Insightful)

Ayandia (630042) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495019)

For spaceflight it seems to take fewer imperfections to kill you. For a first run mostly perfect is fantastic...especially since the not perfect parts didn't involve dying.

The flight was a success, the pilot survived, and the ship wasn't damaged? Good job guys! Don't get lazy!

Accept the risk (5, Insightful)

mratitude (782540) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495025)

As a society viewing the initial private sojourns into space we need to prepare for the risk these people will take and we need to prepare ourselves for the first casualties. Otherwise, when someone does die, we'll knee-jerk the issue to the point that someone will suggest "There ought to be a law...".

There's been quite enough of that already, thank you very much. Get ready for it, it's going to happen. Every pioneering effort accumulates causualties.

This is sad (2, Insightful)

razmaspaz (568034) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495039)

Its funny that 90% or so of the comments in this story so far are making fun of the pilot for not being able to control his "attitude", but what is funnier is that attitude is actually a flight term. (I don't know what it means). Sadly Melville is being made fun of for overcoming a problem in the launch to make a near disaster a huge success. He should be commended not made fun of, but we are too busy wallowing in our ignorance to realize his achievment.

this was a TEST flight. (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495057)

this was a test flight. they never intended this to be an offical X-prize flight because they knew stuff like this happens. this is why there was only one person on board. they know what they are doing.

Don't be too harsh (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495065)

Consider as well that even the big boys have had their fair share of problems [nasa.gov] , and still managed to get out with everyone alive.

Space flight is dangerous. What amazes me is that even big problems don't result in fatalities whereas, in the case of Challenger(maybe Columbia), a minor problem resulted in the death of the crew.

right angle turns at 62 miles... (2, Interesting)

EssTiDee (784920) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495079)

While i'm sure this will get a -1 Flamebait, i have to at least start by expressing my dissapointment with the vast number of "attitude" jokes so far...

That said, I'm surprised the development team isn't more concerned with the extreme instabilities reportedly experienced while firing the engines. Seems to me that such a huge misalignment of thrust is a much greater problem than a "slight glitch in the attitude controls"

Perhaps Jon Carmack's team still has a shot at the big bucks.... Even without bothering to make any cash from finally releasing Doom3.

Amateurs (4, Interesting)

Hiro Antagonist (310179) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495094)

There's an old story from Analog (a science-fiction magazine) titled 'Amateurs' which reminds me quite a bit of the guys at Scaled Composites, except in 'Amateurs', they didn't have a government prize to spur them on, just a drive to get into space, and a willingness to ignore and/or bend a few laws, such as re-using the ID of a salvaged Lear jet for their experimental SSTO vehicle[1], called 'Dervish Also', because the original, titled 'Dervish', blew up.

On the top of the hatch that led into the interior of the ship was stenciled the words: "Experimental Space Rocket -- Dangerous As Hell"

[1] Probably one of the funnier points in the story is during a radio exchange between the pilot of the Dervish Also and the ground, where the pilot requested clearance to take his "Learjet" to a flight level of 600. *grin*

Re:Amateurs (1)

Paul Crowley (837) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495162)

The X-Prize is privately funded; it is not a government prize.

Ascent phase, not descent (4, Informative)

GordoTheGeek (608960) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495116)

Perhaps Taco should read check his submissions a little more closely before approving them: Melvill lost attitude control "end of the rocket engine's firing time of about 70 seconds, just as Melvill reached space". That would be in the ascent phase.

Wait a second! (0, Redundant)

ne0nex (612727) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495120)

Attitude control? The article states that he lost attitude control as he left the atmosphere. For those of you that don't know: attitude control is granted be the moving control surfaces of a plane's wing, and "tail" area. Wait, wait, unless SpaceShip One had tiny "thrusters" or "puffers" then the moment there is no air to affect the control surfaces, then they are essentially useless. The shuttle uses these tiny thrusters (many of them) to change it's attitude when it's up in orbit. It is possible that these engineers failed to think of such a simple thing as lack of an atmosphere for the control surfaces? Last I checked I didn't hear anything about it having any thrusters.

Every pilot.... (1)

AsimovBesterClarke (701529) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495121)

...I've ever known agrees with the notion of 'any landing you walk away from, is a good one.'

Class act (5, Insightful)

amightywind (691887) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495125)

Credit Mike Melville and Burt Rutan for being so open about the problems they experienced. Remember, this is 1 day after the flight! Compare that with how NASA closed ranks and divulged Columbia information with an eye dropper for weeks after the disaster. The only statements made by the mission controllers were through their lawyers. The Russians and Chinese would never admit to problems at all. Burt Rutan is a genious, he puts his work on the line for all the world to see. Space Ship 1 is a class act all the way around.

there's a saying that pilots have: (1)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495132)

"Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing."

Especially when your descent was from 62.5 miles.. or 330,000 feet. For reference, airliners typically fly between 30 and 35,000 feet.

Proof of having RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495134)

quote:

"There was also a loud bang behind him while the rocket engine was firing"

What are the odds of that?

Rrecorded video of interior SpaceShipOne in space? (2, Interesting)

antdude (79039) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495144)

The part where Mike Mevilla opened a bag of M&Ms and the candies went flying? I saw it on news, but it was freaky short! Do you know where I can watch the whole video online?

Thank you in advance.

they will win (4, Insightful)

VanillaCoke420 (662576) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495145)

In my opinion, they have the greatest chance of winning. Scaled is the only team that have performed actual flight tests with their real spacecraft and not only testfiring their rockets or prototypes. They have come a very long way through a careful series of testflights, going higher and faster every time. Now they've reached space. Even the other promising teams (Canadian Arrow, Starchaser, da Vinci, etc.) have yet to fly a fullscale rocket, manned or not. They still have six months to do it. They've come the farthest, and unless they experience some serious setbacks, they have a great chance of winning. Sure things might not go perfectly now or later, but if noone is making mistakes, then how are they supposed to learn from them?

I wonder though... (0)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 10 years ago | (#9495146)

How does SS1 control it's attitude when its out of the atmosphere? I don't recall seeing any sort of directional thrusters on the craft.

Attitude control (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9495153)

It's nice to finally see someone take a stand against the non-technical failures that can occur in modern transport vessels. So often we focus on the technical failings, when in reality the vast majority of fatalities in modern transport are caused by piloting errors (think of the thousands of car crashes worldwide each year).

Loss of attitude control is just one aspect of these so-called piloting failures but it's a very important one. I see it regularly in the Taxi drivers, bus drivers and private drivers in my city. It's great to see it finally get some coverage in the more exotic forms of transport.

It's about time we got the message out, if you want to pilot a multi-million dollar vessel you need to pull your head in and fix your personality. It's time we took a stand against temperamental pilots.
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