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Space Race 2.0 has Begun

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the waiting-for-an-elevator dept.

96

An anonymous reader writes "MSNBC has a story about a second company starting up to compete with Virgin Galactic. Both are planning on operating passenger sub-orbital flights. Will this new Space Race usher in more new technologies into our daily lives, like the previous one? Will the competition to go higher/faster lead to orbital tourism?" From the article: "The company that helped put three millionaires into orbit has teamed up with Russia's Federal Space Agency and the financial backers of the $10 million Ansari X Prize to develop a new breed of suborbital passenger spaceship. Thursday's announcement by Virginia-based Space Adventures herald the entry of new international players in the commercial space race -- a race that is expected to enter a critical phase in the next year or two."

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96 comments

Yay (0, Redundant)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748304)

Yay, space race 2!
Except this time the US isn't competing.

Re:Yay (1)

MojaveHigh (763524) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748481)

Last time I checked, Virginia, home of Space Adventures and Mojave, home of Scaled Composites, are both in the US.

actually (1)

iconeternal (889316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748524)

i think we've got this one down pat. but wait until private industry says it will send someone to the moon. then i bet you will see nasa snap into action

Re:actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14748785)

What, like Space Adventures already did [deepspaceexpeditions.com] with their DSE-Alpha program? A cool $100 mil for a trip around the moon. Any takers?

Re:Yay (1)

natedubbya (645990) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752896)

If you read the article, you'll find that the new alliance includes two other groups in addition to the Russian Space Agency:
(1) Space Adventures....a Virginia based company (that would be in the USA)
(2) Prodea....an investment firm in Dallas, Texas (that would be in the USA)

Oh hear me my children... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14748317)

...the MOON is out there!

Re:Oh hear me my children... (0, Redundant)

Basehart (633304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748721)

Give us this day our daily dehydrated space food.
And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our sponsors.
And lead us into space exploration.
Etc Etc.
Amen

Re:Oh hear me my children... (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14750747)

That's no moon!

Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (4, Interesting)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748325)

Would it be possible to use suborbital craft such as this as a means to provide rapid transportation between distant terrestrial locations?

If I recall correctly, ICBMs take suborbital, not orbital trajectories, and they are quite time savers when you want to wipe out a city, so could the same approach be applied to less malevolent projects?

New York to Tokyo in 30 minutes, anyone?

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (1)

Yokaze (70883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748352)

> ICBMs take suborbital, not orbital trajectories,
Primarily, Intercontinental Ballistic Missles have ballistic trajectories. If you don't mind accelerating in some minutes to several km/s and landing with some km/s, you could be quite fast.

But if you have first to wind up several thousands of kilometers of height then travel on a part of a circle with increased radius, and finally wind down, then I don't believe you'll be faster.

The increased height is only an advantage if you can fly a lot faster in thinner air, which I believe is not the case for the Virgin Galactic vehicle.

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (3, Informative)

Soft (266615) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748384)

Would it be possible to use suborbital craft such as this as a means to provide rapid transportation between distant terrestrial locations?

Yes and no. It is quite possible, but you'd need quite a lot bigger vehicles, more like current rockets.

To see this, you have to understand that the biggest obstacle is speed: to just reach 100 km altitude, as these spacecraft do, you need to launch at a speed of about 1 km/s. Orbital speed (low Earth orbit) is 8 km/s. Unfortunately, it's not a question of eight times more fuel, it's exponential; if your propulsion system is such that for each ton of payload you must expend another ton of propellant, total mass 2 tons, then you need 2^8-1=255 tons of propellant to go to orbit.

Now, an intercontinental journey is easier than going to orbit, but according to calculations I had made some time ago, it's not that easy, maybe 3-4 km/s to cross several thousand kilometers. SpaceShipOne definitely couldn't make it.

So, yes, this is possible and perhaps interesting--if you don't mind the acceleration, as another poster said--but it is significantly harder than what is currently being done by private spaceflight companies. Which does not mean it's forever impossible, of course, nor that private companies won't make orbit or beyond eventually...

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (1)

Soft (266615) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753959)

Now, an intercontinental journey is easier than going to orbit, but according to calculations I had made some time ago, it's not that easy, maybe 3-4 km/s to cross several thousand kilometers.

To follow up on my own post, here are the actual results. The required speed v for a minimum-energy ballistic trajectory crossing distance d, with R and g being Earth's radius and surface gravity (6400 km and 9.8 m/s^2), v1 being orbital speed at altitude 0 (v1=sqrt(Rg)=7.9 km/s), and letting x=d/(2R) one has:

v = v1 * sqrt{2 * [ sin(x) - (sin(x))^2 ] / (cos(x))^2 ]}
v ~ sqrt(gd) for shorter distances (less than 2000 km)

This yields 7.5 km/s for 12000 km (Los Angeles-Sydney), almost orbital speed, or 4.5 km/s just for 2500 km (Los Angeles-New York).

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14754760)

The required speed v for a minimum-energy ballistic trajectory crossing distance d, with R and g being Earth's radius and surface gravity (6400 km and 9.8 m/s^2), v1 being orbital speed at altitude 0 (v1=sqrt(Rg)=7.9 km/s), and letting x=d/(2R) one has:

The key word here is ballistic. The ballistic trajectory is one that an unpowered mass (for example, a thrown rock) follows. A spaceship with engines doesn't follow a ballistic trajectory when those engines are functional, or for the parts of the journey where there's enough air around the vechile to use wings or such to produce lift.

Also, it should be noticed that while 4.5 km/s sounds great, it is only 18 times the speed of a typical subsonic passenger jet (900 km/h, or 250 m/s), and the normal jet accelerates to that speed at the beginning of its journey and spends most of the flight at steady speed fighting drag. Since the suborbital spaceplane wouldn't experience any drag while above the atmosphere, it would only need engine power during the initial acceleration phase - and, since that happens in the atmosphere and includes a horizontal takeoff, this can be done significantly more effectively than in a traditional spacecraft: use wings to counter gravity (immediately adding 1g to acceleration as compared to lifting straight from the ground) and use atmospheric oxygen for engines (drastically reducing the size of fuel tanks needed). All of this means that it could actually end up using less, not more, fuel than a fully atmospheric jet.

And, of course, since the suborbital plane would move "only" 4.5 km/s, it does not need as heavy heat shield as a standard space shuttle.

BTW. Space Ship One was launched from an airplane; so could you perhaps use one of these spaceplanes (a cargo-carrying one instead of a passenger version, obviously) to launch a spacecraft from above orbit ? That way it wouldn't need landing gear, would require a lot less fuel, and if it had a landing capsule (as it would have to if it was carrying people) the crew would have enough altitude (time) to eject in it if something went wrong. Essentially, you'd use spaceplane as the fully reusable and optimized for the task first stage of a fully orbital spacecraft.

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (2, Interesting)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748424)

If you wanted to go as you said, from NY to Tokyo in 30min, you would have to be on AT LEAST a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scramjet [wikipedia.org] scramjet as the average ICBMs built between the 60s and present would take (my guess) around 2 hours to make that trip.

Not to mention what the other posts responding to yours say, about how the rapid acceleration would create a high number of G forces

Even if you lived through the acceleration, a single trip would cost how many millions of dollars???

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14748824)

the average ICBMs built between the 60s and present would take (my guess) around 2 hours to make that trip

Your guess sucks.

ICBMS travel at near-orbital velocities (17,000mph). A complete circuit of the earth in low orbit takes roughly 90 minutes. NY-Tokyo would take an ICBM less than 45 minutes. In the Cold War era, UK citizens would have had roughly FOUR MINUTES [wikipedia.org] warning of Soviet ICBM attack.

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (5, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748492)

They go up about 800-1200 km, then come back down on the other side of the planet or within 6,000-plus miles of thier launch site. An ICBM is going approximately 15,000 mph (Mach 23 or 24,000 kph) at burnout.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/systems/lgm-30_3 -specs.htm [globalsecurity.org]

Since we're on suborbitals, Sprint was a pretty cool system for missile interception. Sprint was a marvel of aeronautics and space technology reaching a speed of Mach 10 in 5 seconds. Built by Martin Marietta, it was designed to operate at hypersonic speeds in the earth's atmosphere; at its top speed, the missile's skin became hotter than the interior of its rocket motor and glowed incandescently. To make the launch as quick as possible, the cover was blown off the silo by explosive charges; Then the missile was ejected by an explosive-driven piston. As the missile cleared the silo, the first stage fired and the missile was tilted toward its target. The first stage was of very short, almost explosive, duration. The second stage fired within 1 - 2 seconds of launch. Interception at an altitude of 1500m to 30000m took at most 15 seconds. The electronic components of the Sprint were designed to withstand accelerations of 100 times gravity. The missile was 27 feet long, consisted of two stages, and used solid fuel. Sprint carried an ER nuclear warhead of a few KT.

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (1)

TheOrquithVagrant (582340) | more than 8 years ago | (#14749206)

I hadn't heard of this before. Mach 10 in 5 seconds sound insane. A rough calculation gets me 68G for that, or, interestingly, 666m/s^2. Yes, I'm cheating with the rounding, just to be able to say "Hellishly fast accelleration." :)

> The electronic components of the Sprint were designed to withstand accelerations of 100 times
> gravity

That, otoh, isn't all that impressive. The electronics in the two "penetrators" that were part of the ill-fated Mars Polar Lander were made to withstand 80000 G. They both failed to return any data, though, so they may not be the best example to compare to...

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 8 years ago | (#14750714)

It's generally considered polite to attribute quotations from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , especially when you quote an entire article.

Fast post (1)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748995)

One thing I've thought of that these things would be useful for would be as "couriers" for important documents that can't be sent electronically. Contracts, etc. Possibly, donor organs. Other small packages that currently get rushed on aircraft, but would be better yet if they arrived with almost the speed of an email.

That seems like the next step up after there-and-back-again tourist flights.

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (1)

ShakiirNvar (904354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14749093)

Would it be possible to use suborbital craft such as this as a means to provide rapid transportation between distant terrestrial locations? If I recall correctly, ICBMs take suborbital, not orbital trajectories, and they are quite time savers when you want to wipe out a city, so could the same approach be applied to less malevolent projects?

Hehehe ... my first thought on seeing the parent post was the image of a slightly squashed person being fired into a suborbital trajectory in a modified ICBM.

My next thought was I hope that the modifications included parachutes to be deployed before landing ... test flight anyone? :)

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (1)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14749479)

No, the problem with this is tracking what is actually an ICBM and what is human transport. Getting shot down upon re-entry is not cool. Starting WWIII because you forgot to file a flight plan is even less cool.

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (1)

ShakiirNvar (904354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14754267)

True, maybe any modifications should include some way of distinguishing explosive ICBMs from transport modules ;)

Re:Forgive me if this is a stupid question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14749642)

You know that the US Mercury, Gemini, as well as the Soviet space crafts were all launched on modified ICBM's, right?

It's really about time (5, Insightful)

helioquake (841463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748327)

It's really about time that a suborbital travel in space becomes "engineering challenge" rather than "explorations".

It's never easy; but it should no longer be impossible for a private entity to venture into a suborbital flight business.

What about shipping packages? (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748337)

I'm surprised that so far all of the buzz has been about passenger transport and ignores other applications. The science fiction writer Michael Flynn's future history starting with Firestar [amazon.com] has FedEx as one of the first industries signing on to the new convenient space flight. Think about how much of an edge on its competition a company would have if it could deliver a package anywhere on Earth in just a couple of hours.

Re:What about shipping packages? (1)

Tonik, the (748167) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748469)

Yeah, for an affordable price of $200,000?

Re:What about shipping packages? (2, Interesting)

coofercat (719737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748558)

Actually, when the X-Prize was first announced, various larger courier companies expressed an interest. I believe it was a UPS spokesperson who summed it up nicely:

"We'd be able to say that if you sent a package from Sydney by 9am, we could deliver to Los Angeles by 5pm the day before"

(hopefully properly quoted!)

Pretty exciting stuff. I understand it's possible to get anywhere in the world in around 45 minutes via space. Of course, the journey may not be all that pleasant (high-G, lots of discomfort on re-entry etc), but freight really doesn't mind that sort of thing. Given enough years at it, private enterprise would solve those problems, making space journeys the same as taking a plane now.

Re:What about shipping packages? (1)

ShakiirNvar (904354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14749142)

Pretty exciting stuff. I understand it's possible to get anywhere in the world in around 45 minutes via space. Of course, the journey may not be all that pleasant (high-G, lots of discomfort on re-entry etc), but freight really doesn't mind that sort of thing. Given enough years at it, private enterprise would solve those problems, making space journeys the same as taking a plane now.
Suprised no one has designed/built inertial dampners, etc yet ... that'd help with the comfort levels. Although the idea has been floating around for so long its virtually unpatentable. Any engineers feel up for the challenge?

Somebody didn't study Science 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14750443)

In relativity, an "inertial frame" is very nearly identical to a "gravitic frame". An inertial dampener would also be an antigravity device. "But wait", you say, "that's science fiction and very implausible in any near future!" Yes, exactly.

When people invent antigravity (or generated gravity, or most anything to do with controlling gravity) then you'll have your inertial dampener right there - as well as quite a nifty flight drive and possibly the makings of an Alcubierre warp drive.

Re:What about shipping packages? (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14749857)

It is quite arguable that the current airline industry is based on mail delivery. I have seen in more than one history that fixed costs were in fact paid for by the US government through the USPS and airmail, while people transportation covered only fractional amounts.

Given this history, and the assertion that it was probably true of the railroad as well, I wonder if a commercial space service can grow and thrive without significant direct or indirect government assistance.

There are possibility besides mail. Research institutions, even high school, could use the services to put up small sattilites with fixed lifetimes. Additional photos of specifice locations, like the far norhtern hemisphere, might be relized at a profit. Souviners that have been in space can be sold.

Just like NASA, the taking people to space is mostly just a Gee Whiz thing for publicity. Yes it is important for us to get experience in space. Yes it is important to have people who can talk about thier space travel. Yes there are experiments and duties that require local human intervention. But human space travel is only part of the equation, and does not justify or fund even half of the costs. So, I question any commercial enterprise that is going to fund a majority of it's expenses through human space travel, in the same way that many commercial enterprises questions the need for NASA as a humans in space enterprise.

Come on show some ambition!! (0, Redundant)

sparkydevil (261897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748343)

Let's go for Space Race 3.0!!!

Re:Come on show some ambition!! (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748438)

Let's go for Space Race 3.0!!!

Just saw the "2.0" and assumed AJAX is somehow involved.

The hell with you guys, I'm gonna wait till Space Race XX is here!

(see Web 2.0 article and how many posts on "I'm waiting for Web X.0!")

Re:Come on show some ambition!! (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748653)

I, for one, await Space Race 3.1, with TrueType support.

Re:Come on show some ambition!! (2)

luna69 (529007) | more than 8 years ago | (#14749520)

> Let's go for Space Race 3.0!!!

Yeah, agreed. Because so far 2.0 looks pretty lame.

From TFA:

> Both are planning on operating passenger sub-orbital flights.

Until they're doing more than a) planning, and b) better than sub-orbital, this whole thing is just an exercise in venture capitalist handjobs. "Suborbital space travel" ISN'T SPACE TRAVEL. It's a money hole for people with too much money (whether they're potential customers or Richard Branson).

Now, if they were doing REAL space travel (which I define as being further than Earth-orbit or to any body other than Earth - i.e., Moon qualifies), I'd be first in line.

The real challenge... (4, Interesting)

Darth Liberus (874275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748344)

...is can you make it safe, fast, and cost-effective? Blasting off into space is cool, but will 2 hours + a lot of money + a good chance of blowing up outweigh a 12 hour, reasonbly priced and safe trip?

Don't get me wrong, this is cool. But suborbital travel will need to deal with these issues lest they go the way of the Concorde.

Think: Executive! (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748460)

Blasting off into space is cool, but will 2 hours + a lot of money + a good chance of blowing up outweigh a 12 hour, reasonbly priced and safe trip?

As somebody who's recently entered the scene of the "upper middle-class", certain aspects of economics start to make more sense.

For example, the company plane. Sounds like a waste, huh?

An executive earning $100,000/year has a market net worth of about $50/hour. To make baseline 6 figures, he/she represents a compensation (and thus, net worth to society) of about that rate. So, a 'Company plane' makes sense when it saves more time (at $50+ per hour) than it costs.

Now, a typical short-midrange flight entails 1-2 hours in the airport at both ends, and can be quite inconvenient, in that commercial flights worth mentioning only fly out of major airports. A 6-seat plane starts at around $75,000, so the monthly payment on that would be around $750, or about what your average middle-class family pays for 2 new-ish cars.

So, a company plane, in order to pay for itself, has to save $750/$50 hours of executive downtime, or 15 hours of $100,000 executive time per month. A SINGLE FLIGHT taken by three executives in the plane can often save 4-6 hours apiece in time for each of those exectives, easily meeting the minimum standard for compensation. Any flights taken after that are pure profit for the company! Thus, planes can make financial sense in this economic situation.

And, that's assuming your exeutives are only making $100,000 per year - if they're good, they're usually worth quite a bit more than that.

So, I have to ask you, how much do those 10 hours of time savings cost in your example? If your "lot of money" ticket adds in the neighborhood of $500 each way, it's already quite profitable for the buyer, as well as very convenient!

Re:Think: Executive! (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748680)

You're confusing worth with pay- to claim that as really a loss, you have to posit that they would all be creating at least that value doing something else with 100% efficiency. From what I've seen of most executives, their true value is probably in the negative 3 digits per hour range.

Also, having worked for a company that wasted money on several private jets- I *wish* we only paid 75K for them. THey were both high 6 to low 7 figures. Not including maintenance and crew.

Re:Think: Executive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14753365)

"A 6-seat plane" ... is still reasonably safe.

Re:The real challenge... (1)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753742)

You mean the same way that Airlines have a two hour wait, chance of getting bumped due to intentional overbooking, chance of being used as a hostage or missile, chance of blowing up, chance of crashing, and so on and so forth for a few hours trip when a reasonably priced train ride will get you there in perhaps twice as long?

Don't get me wrong, strapping into a seat and firing off massive rocket-like engines to blast into the air is cool. But heavier than air travel will need to deal with these issues lest they go the way of the Hindenburg.

---

Now, sarcasm and pointing out absurdity using absurdity aside, current suborbital travel plans do not include you. Yes, you. You who don't have the funds nor the desire to do it until it can be "made safe". Probably never will. But that won't stop it. Looking back at all prior transportation mode advancements, the same could be said. Horses to walking, horseless carriages to horse-drawn buggies. Steamer ships to sail driven craft. Balloons to land based transportation, and even airplanes to balloons. If this were a hundred years ago people such as yourself would be pooh-poohing air travel.

Have you ever looked at the accident rate on a per-mile basis of rocket and/or orbital/space travel in the US versus, say, planes, trains and automobiles? You might be suprised. If you knew the real statistical risk level of travelling by automobile you might be a bit more concerned about your everyday travel. But probably not since you couldn't pooh-pooh it safe in the knowledge you'll never have the opportuinity to use it.

And in truth, your so-called "good chance fo blowing up" is naught but hot air. The actual risk of blowing up is small. What you percevie as risk of occurrence is really impact of occurrence. It is not a common event (the so-called "good chance"), but it is a spectacular attention grabbing event. Thus you think it is a good chance of occurrence because you only remember the few times it happens. But like much of so-called "common sense", it is actually the opposite.

No small risk (1)

raptor_87 (881471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753954)

I'm not sure about the per mile figures, but the rule of thumb for rocket travel is that your launch vehical will fail (often catestrophically) ~2% of the time. Do you total your car ~2% of the time you drive?

Sweet... (1)

ELProphet (909179) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748354)

At least, the first two paragraphs. Then the wonderful MSN formatting puts all the text BEHIND the links panel... Is it only me that this happnes? And it happens on EVERY MSN Article!

Re:Sweet... (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748429)

probly has something to do with MS way of writing shitty code, most of which you can bet was meant to be IE exclusive Visual Basic

Re:Sweet... (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748754)

Maybe you should upgrade your copy of Firefox.

Works ok here except for the picture of the author being half hidden by the frame of some blocked flash thing which I assume is an ad.

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686 (x86_64); rv:1.8.0.1) Gecko/20060124 Firefox/1.5.0.1

Yet another reason to avoid MSNBC (0, Flamebait)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 8 years ago | (#14749115)

By reading articles on MSNBC, you're supporting a company that hurts the IT industry anyway. So the formatting issues are just another reason to find the same story on another news site.

Suborbital? (1)

rufusdufus (450462) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748358)

Suborbital flights strike me just like the space ride at the carnival. Lots of flash and a souvenir pin, but they don't actually push the envelope in technology. There is a huge difference between going up and coming down again compared to true orbital flight where you go up and dont come down.

    Maybe this will even delay humanity's push into space by deluding people into thinking they have contributed in some way to that goal.

Re:Suborbital? (1)

einstienbc (825770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748377)

I gotta agree with rufus up there. Wake me up when they have red-eyes to the moon.

Re:Suborbital? (1)

mean pun (717227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748525)

Suborbital flights strike me just like the space ride at the carnival.

Scaling this up to significant numbers of passengers is not trivial. Perhaps it won't be rocket science, but it sure will be rocket engineering.

And unlike the carnival ride, this will give you spectacular photo opportunities.

Re:Suborbital? (2, Informative)

jonwil (467024) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748901)

Whats cool about all this is not that its new (fights like this were first carried out by the North American Aviation X-15 rocket plane launched from a B-52 Bomber) but that its been done by a private company in a way thats easily reproducable and promises to get cheaper over time.

Re:Suborbital? (1)

mysterystevenson (859520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752312)

Sub-Orbital as it is being presented, is a near total waste of time and money and is exactly like the above described carnival ride. Maybe they should even call the joke "spaceport" it's launched from "Cape Carnival" When this non-space amusement ride kills people it will hurt the real space programs far more than any popular "boost" there may have been from this publicity gimmick. It's a get rich quick scheme that will either die on the vine, leaving investors in pain, or become the stuff of horror/sci-fi greed flicks that havn't even begun to be conceived yet.

Does it use AJAX? (2, Funny)

VampireByte (447578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748365)

Just saw the "2.0" and assumed AJAX is somehow involved.

Re:Does it use AJAX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14748479)

And rounded corners and pastel colours.

New technologies? (0)

tcoady (22541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748387)

Will this new Space Race usher in more new technologies into our daily lives, like the previous one?

Sorry, but I think I missed the technologies that changed my daily life from the previous race? Or am I supposed to believe I need to be grateful to NASA for teflon - "PTFE is sometimes said to be a spin-off from the US space program with more down-to-earth applications; this is an urban legend, as teflon cooking pans were commonplace before Yuri Gagarin's flight in 1961." according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teflon [wikipedia.org]

Re:New technologies? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748402)

Well, there's T foam, currently being marketed as Tempur foam. Ironically it was never actually used as a cushioning material for astronauts because the outrageously high levels of toxic outgassing made it unsafe in a space capsule.

Sleep tight.

KFG

Re:New technologies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14748504)

What about Tang (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tang_(drink) [wikipedia.org] )? It would have never taken off if not for the Gemini program. I look forward to more beverage revolutions!

Re:New technologies? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14748784)

Both of the replies currently visible to your post have some really stupid things, but here's a good one for you: integrated circuits. The Minuteman II ICBM program and the Apollo program were the first major customers for ICs. It's probably safe to say that without this initial push from two space programs, the development of ICs would have proceeded significantly slower, and thus modern computers would be years behind where they are today. This obviously changes your daily life, seeing as how you're posting on slashdot.

Re:New technologies? (1)

tcoady (22541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14749400)

A reprogrammable inertial guidance system was a major risk in the original program. When first proposed, no one had built a digital computer that would fit in a missile. So the LGM-30 Minuteman brought us the first embedded computer in the 1960s, but this had nothing to do with NASA, and I suspect that they would have become embedded somewhere by now anyway.

Space debris (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14748404)

Being a big fan of the space anime PlanetES, which opens with a super-high-altitude aircraft exploding due to a tiny screw blasting right through it, my immediate reaction was "What about space debris?".

Then again, the summary says "sub-orbital", implying that the altitude is below that of orbiting obstacles. Does anyone know if this is correct?

Re:Space debris (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748827)

Awesome show, one of my top 3 anime shows (Hikaru no Go and Saishuu Heiki Kanojo being the other two). But yes, sub-orbital means that if it goes up, it's gonna come right back down again unless you're expending energy to keep it there. Ain't no such thing as sub-orbital space debris, since it very quickly becomes terrestrial space debris :P

There isn't a race (1)

Dr. Sorenson (947697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748411)

Private/corporate space travel of any kind is pretty gosh darn unlikely any time in the next 30 years. Space travel is so capital intensive that any sort of return on investment far beyond the types of horizons that motivate companies. Consider that most companies view 5 years as a "long term" investment. I don't understand why they are offering a $10 million prize for the design when if they were serious they would have a paid engineering staff design one. I think this is more proof these companies aren't serious at all.

Re:There isn't a race (1)

jbrader (697703) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748486)

Here's a good reason for offering a prize rather than hiring some engineers to design it for you: If you hire some engineers then you have one team working on the project. If you offer a prize than suddenly teams of engineers from all over the world will begin working on the project for you. And you won't have to worry about any of the buisness aspects of getting it done, you just hold up the money and sit back while everybody else scrambles to solve all the problems.

Then there's the publicity aspect of it. If you own a company and you start working on a large project like private space flight, so what? But if there's a big prize to be had and teams all over the world are racing to win then you've just created a big news story that could possibly get other people interested in the project and maybe get other rich people to throw their money at it too.

The x prize isn't the only time this sort of thing has been done. If I remember correctly there were several similar prizes during the early days of aviation, and sometimes in science and math there are prizes for the first to solve some sticky problem. Even the bounties that are offered for fixing bugs and whatnot in some open source projects work the same way.

Re:There isn't a race (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14748973)

Private/corporate space travel of any kind is pretty gosh darn unlikely any time in the next 30 years. Space travel is so capital intensive that any sort of return on investment far beyond the types of horizons that motivate companies.

Private/corporate space travel already happened, starting on June 21, 2004 [wikipedia.org] .

Richard Branson believes that he can get a satisfactory return on capital from commercial spaceflight. Given his successful business record, I'm inclined to believe him. The demand appears to be there: Virgin Galactic is already sold out for the first two years of flight operations.

Bah yeah right.. too much politics to wreck stuff (1)

kitkatsavvy (921998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748439)

They haven't even PROVED the moon landing yet! I am sorry but I am still a believer in the moon hoax! Also, I really do think the world will destroy itself before we even THINK of terraforming Mars! If we are killing each other over a DAMN cartoon, and shooting your friend instead of a DAMN QUAIL, there is REALLY NO hope to leave Earth forever! Come ON!

New technologies... (2, Funny)

evilviper (135110) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748443)

Will this new Space Race usher in more new technologies into our daily lives,

YES!

For instance, hardened ceramic roofs, bomb shelters, "incoming meteor" early warning systems, and the like.

Pretty much all the technologies that make it possible to survive the fledgling space-ships disintegrating in the outer atmosphere, left and right. Pretty much all the same things you'd want if "flying cars" or "jet packs" for the average person became a reality.

Focused on cost (1)

SilentJ_PDX (559136) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748448)

Will this new Space Race usher in more new technologies into our daily lives, like the previous one?

No. The last space race performed a wide array of scientific research while in space. This race will be focused on getting passengers up as cheaply as possible.

I'm not saying that there won't be breakthroughs, but nothing near the number of breakthroughs in industries as varied as what NASA affected.

Re:Focused on cost (1)

CannibalSmith (684531) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748602)

Cheap spaceflight. Isn't it a brakethough by itself?

Suborbital? (1)

packetmill (955023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748449)

Screw that,I'm going for MARS, dude.
Who in his right mind would spend millions of green guys for a half-hour ride around the globe to get a glimpse of china. I've already SEEN china, you twats. Buy an Atlas.

New version. (1)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748498)

Does this new version fix bugs like the cockpit randomly catching fire?

Yes I know it was politically incorrect and potentially unfunny because of it.

Stop the versioning! (5, Funny)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748541)

OK, it's news for nerds, but this is even too nerdy for me. The pain! The agony! Please stop giving version numbers to real life stuff. Real life is not CVS, thank you. I don't call my second wife Wife 2.0 either, neither do I refer to McDonald's latest offering as 0.9 beta. Snap out of it!

Re:Stop the versioning! (1)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753648)

I don't call my second wife Wife 2.0
Don't worry, I still refer to her as Mistress 6.0.

Re:Stop the versioning! (1)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753992)

Seriously, now, do you think McDonald's does any kind of beta-testing?

Re:Stop the versioning! (1)

Ziviyr (95582) | more than 8 years ago | (#14814567)

I imagine McDonalds revisions count down from version 1.0

Judging from the fries, they're at about V0.2 now.

What's next? (1)

teodz (902275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748559)

cold war 2.0????

Re:What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14749836)

cold war 2.0????
What do you think that the 'war on terror' is?

Article submitter got it wrong... (4, Informative)

SirBruce (679714) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748594)

Space Adventures isn't a "new" start-up to compete with Virgin Galactic. Space Adventures has been around since 1998, and was one of the first companies (in the modern era, anyway; not talking about old space sweepstakes from decades ago) to actually plan on sending tourists into space. It is Virgin Galactic that is the "new" start-up, competeing with the likes of Space Adventures.

That having been said, right now Space Adventures is little more than a middle man. They've been working with various other private companies (like Scaled Composites, SpaceX, Armadillo, etc.) to essentially use whatever suborbital rocket THEY build, to ferry passangers who reserve flights now with Space Adventures. Right now there are a few hundred people who've plunked down $100,000 or so for a reservation; I assume Space Adventures is just making money off of investments while waiting for a private company to finally actually produce a sub-orbital ship.

I should also point out the Space Adventures has been "anticipating" this first flight to take place as early as 2000, and have delayed it every year since then. Who knows if any spacecraft maker will ever actually complete a project such that Space Adventures reservations get filled. Virgin Galactic, on the other hand, has already locked up a deal with Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites, so it would seem unlikely that SpaceShipTwo would be available to take Space Adventures' reservations, unless Virgin Galactic buys out the contracts. And since Burt Rutan is currently the only guy who has demosntrated any success in this field so far, things don't look good for SA.

But that's just my opinion.

Bruce

PS - SA has managed to get a "finder's fee" for hooking up three private space tourists for trips to the ISS via the Russians, for $20M a pop. Frankly, I don't know HOW they managed that; seems to me I can phone up Rosaviacosmos directly. But maybe Russia prefers dealing exclusively through SA for potential private clients.

Re:Article submitter got it wrong... (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14750016)

Frankly, I don't know HOW they managed that; seems to me I can phone up Rosaviacosmos directly.

Unless you have their phone number, probably not. And if they pick up the phone, you'd better speak Russian.

I suspect somebody at SA knows somebody at Rosaviacosmos, and the Russians have basically outsourced their trip planning to them. That lets them focus on rockets while SA focuses on collecting clients and making them happy. Which is probably a real pain in the ass when it comes to people with $20 million to blow on a ride.

New, improved spinoffs! (1)

ian_mackereth (889101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748597)

The Space Race 1.0 gave us a few famous spinoffs, but they're now old hat and need updating...

Teflon 2.0- Now so slippery that only iron-rich foods can be cooked in Teflon frying pans, held in place by the magnetic base.

Write Upside Down Ballpoint Pens 2.0- Now write Inside Out as well!

Tang 2.0- Now tastes sort of like real fruitjuice (mostly if you haven't ever actually tasted real juice...)

Re:New, improved spinoffs! (2, Informative)

Angstroem (692547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14751034)

Teflon was invented by Dupont Chemical *way* before the space race. It's one of those never-dying myths that it was a byproduct of the space race.

Tell you something: spinach is *not* a good iron supplier. (The other unkillable myth...)

What technologies ? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748604)

I'm in IT, and when I look at the IT these space wonders use, I have to hold back a laugh. Is it any different in other fields ?

I keep hearing about all those technologies that trickled down from NASA to us regular guys. Since this couldn't possibly come from the NASA spin machine, would anyone care to enlighten me about which technologies are alluded to here ?

2005 called (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14748761)

it wants it's "2.0" bullshit back.

Re:2005 called (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748780)

you mean this? [emptybottle.org]

As revelant as the Americas Cup. (2, Interesting)

dotmax (642602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748787)

This sort of thing is going to have as much impact and relevance to society at large as the Americas Cup does. Pretty toys, a few specialist firms involved in one-off designs, and technology not really germane to anything beyond its own sandbox of reality.

There ain't no breakthroughs to be had! Space flight with rockets is fabu $$$, period. Schmancy IRBMs with inflight entertainment isn't ... significant. It's just symptomatic of a point in industrilized society where we have a buttload of disposable income and a lot of wealthy people. Which is fine, no prob, wish i was one, but technical breakthrough? Not in any meaningful way.

Seriously: "space tourism" relates to manned space flight the way the heavies do it (US, Russia and now China) similarly to the way the old Seawolf submarine ride at Disneyland compares to the Jimmuh (SSN23, as Seawolf submarine in its own right). Possibly we could substitute the Disneyland sub with one of those excursion toys you sometimes see in the carribean -- but still, not an innovator, just a cool toy. .max

What's the point? (2, Insightful)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14748814)

Why would a civilian go to space?
The ultimate thrill ride?
Certainly not for "tourist" reasons, there's nothing to tour up there.
Kubrick's wheel is not up there and the ISS doesn't have the room or time
to put up with camera wielding geeks.

There's no moon motels or other stop overs up there.

There's just simply no where to go except up, around and back down.
And how long will these "tourists" stay strapped in a chair for their $250,000 ride? 20 minutes? 1 hour? 3 days? Really now.. Think about it.
What's it take to orbit the earth, 90 minutes I think, CMIIW. So maybe you get
to make one orbit and back home. All for a cool quarter mil. Nice..
Will you be allowed to take your own photos or will you be required to leave your
cameras on earth and buy your photos from the gift shop at the launch/landing site?

And lastly, who will plot the course of these ships, through the millions of tons of space debris? NASA? I think NORAD keeps track of ALL space debris and coordinates data with NASA to plot flight paths.

Is NORAD going to allow these private enterprises access to this same data or are they going to "use the force Luke" to navigate the debris fields??

Man, this whole thing about space tourism is just silly. We're a good 50-100 years from any realistic scenario, if at all. Until Kubrick's wheel goes up and until we have civilian Moon motels and civilian Mars motels up there, there's just no good reason for civilians to be in space.

I'll just save my money and stay on the ground, where I belong, thanks very much.
And BTW, I'm a strong supporter of NASA and science and space exploration.
I believe it in 101% all the way. But this civilian stuff is just silly.
After a few civilians get killed this half baked idea will go away very quickly.
You would think that common sense would rule here, what after seeing two shuttles blow up and how many Russians killed in their own problems.
Space travel is extremely dangerous. It's best left to the experts.
We still have a very long way to go before it's perfected.

Re:What's the point? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14749044)

I suppose those living in rural India / China / $INSERT POOR STATE HERE$, could ask the same value questions of Disneyworld - they would have to spend several years of income just to travel to the Magic Castle, and do what? Experience a roller coaster? It's not as if they would have time on their trip to get a work permit and set up an entrepenurial venture that sends wads of cash home to their village, and what would they do with western currency, anyway?

This type of tourism is just the start, it's not so different from visiting "the New World" circa 1600AD. The infrastructure will take time to build, the ships will need to be improved, and while the value of gold and silver is obvious, there are other resources waiting to be exploited that are quite valuable but just not recognized as such, yet.

Don't bash the version 0.1-alpha tourists and their deep pockets, at least they're spending some cash on progress, instead of monopolizing a resource here at home (like waterfront real-estate). Even if this little foray into foolishness doesn't yield Teflon and Tang, it's getting the ball rolling in the right direction. As far as I'm concerned, the US Space Program has been throttled back to about 5% of peak growth since 1982, and about 2% since 2002 - they're in serious danger of taking a major step backward right about now - if the individuals who are working for NASA get laid off and there isn't a space oriented field for them to work in, guess what - they'll get a job doing something else, and those skills will be lost instead of passed on to the next generation.

Diversity is good, and tourism is an easy form of development - with as many US$100-Millionares as we have in the world, I'm sure there's at least some kind of market for this. Hopefully the US government will be inspired to keep up with private industry, lest the privates get good enough at space travel to pose a serious military threat....

Re:What's the point? (2, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14749432)

In the early days of aviation, there was a phenomenon that we might call today, "air tourism." People would pay pilots money -- a fair amount of money, in fact, by the standards of the time, though not as much as the space-tourism outfits are talking about charging, even adjusted for inflation -- just to get in a plane and ride around for a very short while. Those planes were rickety, dangerous contraptions, and tourists could and did get killed. No doubt most people who observed this were saying, as you did, "I'll just save my money and stay on the ground, where I belong, thanks very much." But there were those who wanted to experience it for themselves, and they probably contributed enough money to help the advancement of aviation as a whole significantly.

Re:What's the point? (1)

Radak (126696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14750811)

Why would a civilian go to space? The ultimate thrill ride?

Yeah, that's part of it, but not most of it. Most of it is wanting to fulfill a lifelong dream and wanting to help advance human spaceflight, even if it means taking a risk. Every NASA astronaut is fulfilling a lifelong dream, advancing spaceflight, and taking a risk, too. I don't see a whole lot of difference except that they are admittedly doing it for science and we're doing it partly for entertainment. I doubt you'll find a NASA astronaut who says it isn't entertaining, though.

We're a good 50-100 years from any realistic scenario, if at all.

You're probably right that we are (at least) 50-100 years from the Kubrick scenario you describe, and that's exactly why it's important that a few people be interested in helping usher the industry through this "unrealistic"--as you'd apparently describe it--adolescence. As another response to your post noted, the early aviation industry was similar, and a few people who had the money and the guts helped jumpstart an industry we now take for granted and rely on. There is no reason we cannot do the same with the space travel industry.

...there's just no good reason for civilians to be in space.

Yes there is. It's because we can.

Branson's got my money. [slashdot.org] What are you doing to help make your Kubrickian vision a reality?

Re:What's the point? (1)

renoX (11677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14751893)

>The ultimate thrill ride?

That's the reason of course, even though I don't quite understand why people would pay such high price for those suborbital flights instead of using 'vomit comet' planes to experiment weightlessness or skydiving (ok freefalling isn't weightlessness expect for the first few second and only when you jump from a slow moving aircraft or helicopter).

I wonder why some are trying to sell suborbital fly and (almost) noone is selling 'vomit comet' rides to the normal guys: this should be a lot more affordable!

Re:What's the point? (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752214)

I wonder why some are trying to sell suborbital fly and (almost) noone is selling 'vomit comet' rides to the normal guys: this should be a lot more affordable!

Peter Diamandis, the organizer of the X-Prize, recently started a company called ZERO-G [nogravity.com] which sells "vomit comet" rides for $3,750 each. Flights leave from Fort Lauderdale, Florida every month or so, with 15 low-gravity or zero-gravity flight parabolas. A number of notable folks have already flown on it, such as Buzz Aldrin, Burt Rutan, and id Software's John Carmack.

Virgin Galactic crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14749117)

I hope they don't have the same problem as the stinking Virgin trains in the UK. These things are puke-worthy. To think you have to pay to travel in a mobile sewer.

2.0 (1)

pharwell (854602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14749871)

It's always 2.0 now.... it was cute the first 0x088 times, but now.... it's just -1, Redundant. How about

Space Race II: This Time It's Personal!

Nothing new, nothing to see. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14750051)

Space Adventures has been shopping this craft around for something like five years - routinely announcing a new set of partners and that a first flight is expected 'soon'. Pretty much like anyone else associated with the Russian space program, their main business seems to be not flying - but generating press releases and power points about thier Brave New Future.

Old news (1)

kahrytan (913147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14750275)


Space Adventures has been around years before Xprize was awarded. They are the forefront leaders in suborbital flights. Sorry people but this is truely old news.

(rich) Pigs in Space! (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14750829)

So that's the future of space travel. The legacy of Apollo. The future of mankind.

We should have launched an Orion, at least once.

Well (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 8 years ago | (#14751574)

Will this new Space Race usher in more new technologies into our daily lives, like the previous one?

By all means, as long as DebtMart can charge 28% revolving interest to unemployed customers on them.

Billions of dollars over decades...and 2.0? (1)

Jivha (842251) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753411)

2.0 is the best the space industry could manage after all these decades and billions of dollars?

Heck, Gillette and Schick managed to take us all into 4.0 just by themselves ;-)
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