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Mid-Atlantic Commercial Spaceport Makes First Launch

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the scaring-the-ponies dept.

Space 67

PeeAitchPee writes "East Coast residents of the US were treated to the first launch from the mid-Atlantic region's commercial spaceport. The 69-foot Minotaur I rocket soared from the launch pad at 7 a.m. ET, after teams spent the week resolving a glitch in software for one of the satellites that had scrubbed a liftoff on Monday. I witnessed the launch while driving to BWI airport this morning and it was beautiful! It left a zig-zag contrail in the southern sky and the separation / ignition of one of the upper stages was clearly visible." The spaceport, a commercial collaboration of Virginia and Maryland, is on the Delmarva peninsula south of the Maryland line, just west of Chincoteague Island.

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TSA (2, Funny)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270320)

At this early juncture in commercial space travel, let's all pray that TSA doesn't get their paws on spaceport security.

I defecate in your general direction (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270382)

you are hit by a shower of liquid shit.

Re:I defecate in your general direction (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270604)

you are hit by a shower of...

Textual tubgirl isn't appreciated either.

Re:TSA (2, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270756)

How much longer until the TSA implements the "Fifth Element" solution and forcibly sedates everybody on the plane?

Re:TSA (1)

Spikeles (972972) | more than 7 years ago | (#17273010)

You know, if you think about it, it's not such a bad idea. No screaming kids, you don't have to be bored for 2hrs doing nothing but reading magazines, you don't have to worry about crashing, or if you are afraid of heights.. it's a good solution actually.

Re:TSA (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17274636)

The only downside is that not everyone will necessarily wake up at the end of the flight. But most of those people will be the aged, infirm, or very young, so as long as we don't care about those groups we're good to go!

Re:TSA (1)

Spikeles (972972) | more than 7 years ago | (#17275944)

Yeah, i had thought about those after i posted. Would be good to do to normal people as well to prevent terrorists taking over planes/spaceplanes. But those groups are less likely to be terrorists no?

Re:TSA (1)

Vexar (664860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17285156)

Like the terrorists won't figure out how to create an antidote for the sedation, and preload their systems with it? Come on.

Re:TSA (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17271456)

I think a better thing to say would be "I hope nobody decides to hijack a rocket, so TSA has a reason to get involved."

Re:TSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17276488)

Or Bush's tourism partners - Al Qaeda

Fun with kids (5, Funny)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270446)

One of the neighbor kids asked what was in the sky this morning, and I told him it was the government testing something they might need if Santa flies in too close to the DC-area controlled airspace. It's great to see those little minds so caught up in the emotion of learning something new.

Mmm (1, Insightful)

ElMiguel (117685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271940)

Haha. You totally pwned that kid. That'll teach him to trust you when he wants to learn something. </sarcasm>

I'm sorry, but I've never understood the joy some people find in deceiving children who come to them with honest questions. Those kids want to learn the truth and you tell them a lie for your own amusement while pretending to help them.

It's just like religion.

Re:Mmm (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17273288)

I just like hearing minds shatter. The younger ones do so at a higher, more pleasing pitch.

Re:Mmm (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17273440)

I'm sorry, but I've never understood the joy some people find in deceiving children who come to them with honest questions. Those kids want to learn the truth and you tell them a lie for your own amusement while pretending to help them.

It's just like religion.
It's the same sense of "joy" that leads to child molestation/rape, violations of the people's trust by coaches, pastors, cub/boy/girl scout leaders, teachers, businesses, governments ... and folks that would mod it "5, Funny". From the same folks that brought the planet "home invasion burglaries/killings" for the sake of "discovering new worlds ... (just a few "savages" running around not exploiting anything)"; snatching artifacts of those folks, sticking them in a museum and claiming that the reason they won't give them back is because "our security is better"; attempting to sell weapons that folks don't want and lobbying for covert operations to ensure that they eventually see that those weapons are needed; marketing products that require additional purchases to get them to do what they were purchased to do; marketing products that fall apart before their time to ensure future profits; marketing "upgrades" that ensure that all that old hardware/software that one has grown used to, and is still doing the job, no longer work; nay-saying naturopathies to ensure profitability of the psychopharmaceutical industry; requiring man-made chemicals to adapt to the environment that created them ... (uh, apartheid, japan "nuking", lynchings, deforestation, global warming, country music, raves ...)

I do believe that I have found an understanding for this: evolutionary retardation. Having evolved in the north atlantic, deprived of the experience of the myriad diversity of Life/resources that renews every season, there appears to exist an inability/unwillingness to note the Life that is trashed to "develop the resources" to remake it all over in their(your) notion of "civilisation".

Poor souls; it ain't about opening up a whole case of whup-ass on ya, it's about involuntary outpatient committment: you need remedial evolutionary treatment! (Sadly, of course, since it does appear as if the rest of Life on ThisEarth is getting a bit (or more) fed up with ya, it looks like y'all are bound and determined to carry your disorder onward to it's "logical" "scorched earth policy" conclusion while running off to bases/colonies on moons of this solar system, with your very own exclusionary "gene/cryogenic banks".)

Somebody "out there" is bound to have been watching these developments for centuries and is just waiting to see if y'all are gonna carry your disorder beyond the boundaries of ThisEarth. They may not do anything as long as you stay in this solar system. But, I'd imagine, that if it looks as if you were gonna carry your BS beyond this solar system, somebody might "come on down" and disabuse you of your notions. Unfortunately, the rest of us will get caught up in the "disabusing" because "colorism" makes no more sense than "shape chauvinism"!!

Anomalous Colored

Re:Mmm (1)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376666)

Hey, message me whomever you are. I'd like to add you as a friend.

Re:Mmm (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17274384)

I'm sorry, but I've never understood the joy some people find in deceiving children who come to them with honest questions. Those kids want to learn the truth and you tell them a lie for your own amusement while pretending to help them.

You're not a very subtle one, are you. The only "children" at whom my humor was aimed were the ones here on slashdot that can't spot a bit of satire when they see it. Lighten up a little bit. Of course I didn't say that to a kid - I said it to this audience to paint a rather pointed picture of the sort of cynicism that misses the opportunity of launching a spacecraft right over that kid's head to actually share the wonder of it. My bit of self-depracating jokery (since the joke could only be on me, right? for being that cynical?) was for the folks who appreciate the satire. Not the ones that aren't quick enough to pick up on it.

It's just like religion.

Again, if you can't tell, it's exactly the people that spread stuff like that (the religious types, to use your example) that I'm making fun of here. Don't you get it? Oh well.

Re:Fun with kids (1)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 7 years ago | (#17278510)

what? by your tone of irony you're implying my faith in NORAD Santa [noradsanta.org] has been misplaced all these years??!!

Re:Fun with kids (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17281854)

what? by your tone of irony you're implying my faith in NORAD Santa has been misplaced all these years??!!

No! No no no. It seems I'm mistaken, and that is every bit completely true.

Minotaur, eh? (3, Funny)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270448)

Something's got be funny about someone who names a 69 ft phallic object after the fruit of the most celebrated instance of bestiality in antiquity...

Re:Minotaur, eh? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270558)

Something's got be funny about someone who names a 69 ft phallic object after the fruit of the most celebrated instance of bestiality in antiquity...

That might be just a wee bit of a stretch for the funny.

Re:Minotaur, eh? (0, Offtopic)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270726)

Something's got be funny about someone who names a 69 ft phallic object after the fruit of the most celebrated instance of bestiality in antiquity...

That might be just a wee bit of a stretch for the funny.

I got email just today about a revolutionary new product that could help that...

Re:Minotaur, eh? (2, Funny)

The Anarchist Avenge (1004563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270838)

"You're sitting on a gold-mine Trebek!"

Re:Minotaur, eh? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270874)

"Something's got be funny about someone who names a 69 ft phallic object"

"69"..."phallic"...*snicker*

How long before space tourism is widespread? (2, Funny)

ZahnRosen (1040004) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270484)

And how many Frequent Flier miles will I need for my first sub orbital trip? Man, these are exciting times.

Re:How long before space tourism is widespread? (3, Informative)

Oopsz (127422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270804)

2,000,000. [virgin-atlantic.com] Some would argue that's a bargain..

Re:How long before space tourism is widespread? (1)

DaftShadow (548731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17272638)

That's approximately 260 round trip flights from New York --> London --> New York

Worth every penny :)

- DaftShadow

shameless plug (2, Funny)

DerProfi (318055) | more than 7 years ago | (#17277194)

My new company is selling round trips from New York --> London --> New York for $10. We've figured out a way to bypass the London leg while still getting you from New York to New York, and back again, with a minimum of fuss and muss. And we do it in record time! PM me for details.

Mid-Atlantic? Stupid name for a region. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270562)

I had pictured this as being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Re:Mid-Atlantic? Stupid name for a region. (2, Insightful)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270924)

And the US Midwest is roughly in the center of the US and much of it is in the Eastern time zone. Americans have absolutely no sense of direction.

Re:Mid-Atlantic? Stupid name for a region. (2, Interesting)

DavidLJ (190528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17272072)

Agreed. I saw the head and looked in on the assumption that somebody had got around to building a floating rocket base, to get away from populations and to get closer to the Equator. Wer-ronggg!

Re:Mid-Atlantic? Stupid name for a region. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17272812)

This is what you're looking for: Sea-Launch [boeing.com]

Re:Mid-Atlantic? Stupid name for a region. (1)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376736)

Apparently, you have no sense of US History. I won't explain any further than that, because the reason for both Mid-Atlantic and Midwest should be obvious from a rudimentary knowledge of history and language. Yet another blatant Flamebait comment that got rated as Insightful.

Re:Mid-Atlantic? Stupid name for a region. (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377826)

Ok, so the first American settlers had no clue where they were either...

It was a joke, get over it...

Re:Mid-Atlantic? Stupid name for a region. (1)

zzatz (965857) | more than 7 years ago | (#17272854)

Since some seem to have trouble parsing this:

Mid-(Atlantic Coast)

NOT (Mid-Atlantic) Coast, as there isn't any coast in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Naming a region of land using the name of the adjoining body of water is quite common. More clues: Canal Street isn't actually IN the canal, the Channel Ports actually only touch the English Channel. It also works the other way: the South China Sea isn't in southern China. Not to mention that the Mediterranean Sea is not actually in the middle of the Earth, where liquid water would be rather unlikely.

"Coast"? What coast? (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17276664)

Since some seem to have trouble parsing this:

Mid-(Atlantic Coast)

NOT (Mid-Atlantic) Coast, as there isn't any coast in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.


Sorry, but I read the article carefully and also searched in my browser and failed to find the word "coast" in it. Perhaps there is a convention to call a certain part of the US coast the "Mid-Atlantic", but that's certainly not well known in the rest of the world.


For anyone who isn't a "Merkin" and is interested in space exploration, the expression "Mid-Atlantic Commercial Spaceport Makes First Launch", which is the title of this Slashdot story, will evoke a mental image of a spaceport located in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, somewhat like the one that exists right now in the middle of the Pacific ocean [boeing.com]

The real news is... (3, Funny)

Principal Skinner (56702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270592)

Maryland and Virginia cooperating on something! What's that squealing noise going past my 5th-story window?

Re:The real news is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270660)

The real news is Maryland and Virginia being relocated to the middle of the Atlantic!

No wonder they're cooperating! Don't want to drift too close to those nasty commie Europeans eh?

anyone know of a launch schedule? (1)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270600)

Well, does anyone? Their site is down for the count . . .

YOpU FAIL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270740)

so how will the spaceport industry be commoditized (1)

kemichail (965347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270786)

With so many spaceports popping up everywhere I kinda wonder how the industry will be commoditized.

Saskatchewan port still in progress (2, Interesting)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270922)

I asked the designers of the Da Vinci Project in Canada when they'd start making launches into space, and the last I heard of the Project was months ago, after a gathering in the south western US for a competition. I guess I'll have to see when they are going to get a launch date in place for the pad that was prepared at Kindersley, SK Canada a couple years ago.

It would be nice to have a "northerly" launch point, even though it's more common to have pads closer to the equator.

Re:Saskatchewan port still in progress (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17270986)

Details I find are always sparse on the website, but here
http://davinciproject.com/news/index.php [davinciproject.com]

Looks like a boondoggle (1, Insightful)

mhollis (727905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270968)

The article states that the rocket used was cobbled together from unused military rockets. It also mentions that the area is depressed and is looking to bootstrap itself into economic health through this venture.

I see a fleecing of the taxpayer going on here, as the rocket used came from the military (all ready paid for by the taxpayer -- though its refurbishment for use with a satellite might not have been. I see the land being acquired at taxpayer expense and I see the first launch being paid for by the military who could have saved the taxpayer money by launching from their own spaceport [spacetoday.org] or NASA's.

I do appreciate attempts to improve an area by building an industrial zone or a commercial zone to attract jobs and employ underemployed people in a particular locality but I don't see too many rocket scientists applying for unemployment compensation these days, and that is the kind of person a spaceport hires. Oh, yes, they'll need security personnel, ground maintenance personnel and construction workers to build the facility, but that's not the major thrust of a spaceport, and I'll just bet a military use for a spaceport would preclude the presence of a lot of civilians without security clearance..

No, this looks like a fiscal boondoggle to me. And with the recent change in the membership of the US House of Repesentatives and Senate, one wonders whether or not anything else will ever launch from there. A "commercial" site that is wholly dependant on the military is not viable on its own

Re:Looks like a boondoggle (3, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271278)

No, this looks like a fiscal boondoggle to me. And with the recent change in the membership of the US House of Repesentatives and Senate, one wonders whether or not anything else will ever launch from there.

This is not a new construction. This is land (and launch pads) leased from the Wallops Island [nasa.gov] facility. NASA has been launching stuff from there for decades.

Re:Looks like a boondoggle (2, Insightful)

mhollis (727905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271474)

This is land (and launch pads) leased from the Wallops Island [nasa.gov] facility. NASA has been launching stuff from there for decades.

You are right, though it's my understanding that the land was actually purchased, along with rights-of-way enabling vehicular traffic to the now privatized (at taxpayer expense) launch area. But even if it is leased, it's a privatization paid for by the citizens of the area in order to boost employment, which is a kind of a boondoggle. This is another means of getting money from taxpayers.

Lease (or purchase) land as a government (but local this time) agency, using taxpayer money.
Create a government agency to "privately" launch satellites using taxpayer money.
Hire the same people being used in the other government site next door because, after all, they're actual rocket scientists using taxpayer money.
Buy something all ready purchased by the taxpayer from the taxpayers by using taxpayer money (a launch vehicle).
Get a contract from a military agency that all ready has launch capability (not being used) by using taxpayer money.
Do the launch by using taxpayer money.
Put out a big PR marketing piece about the success of the launch by using taxpayer money.

Do you see a trend here? Looks like the taxpayers just got boondoggled out of roughly double the amount of money it would have taken in order to just use Vandenburg -- or Wallops run by NASA or Cape Canaveral (which, as it is closer to the Equator is more efficient), also run by NASA. You have a "chase of taxpayer monies" to pay for stuff all ready created by the taxpayer monies, all to supposedly increase employment in an economically-depressed area.

Frankly, I think just sending a check to the people in the area so that they might use the money to move out of the area would be cheaper.

Re:Looks like a boondoggle (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271836)

And what's wrong with having a private corp launch satellites? The Air Force was merely the first customer. It will not be the only customer.

Looks like the taxpayers just got boondoggled out of roughly double the amount of money it would have taken...

I don't suppose you have any backup for that claim, do you?

Re:Looks like a boondoggle (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17272712)

It's not a "private corporation" when almost all of the cost to do it was funded by taxpayers. If google or microsoft had bought the land, launch site, hired all the people, and built the rocket, then we'd be okay with that. Well, maybe not microsoft, but you get the idea.

Re:Looks like a boondoggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17271298)

The rocket was launched from the Wallops Flight Facility, a NASA facility with the NAVY as a tenant and it is also listed on the same page of other spaceports that you suggested should have been used.

Wallops is known for launching the first monkey (maybe your father) into space, so really, they are just getting back into the space program as a launch facility. They are already a tracking station for the shuttle and many satellites. With all of their tracking equipment and being right on the Atlatnic ocean (where if a rocket fails, it can be more safely destroyed without endagering others, it makes a lot of sense to use this location.

Maybe you should just shut the fsck up if you don't know what you are talking about.

Damn tax and spend liberals! (0, Troll)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271310)

Although, they should be a better than the group they just pushed out...the scare and spend conservatives.

Re:Looks like a boondoggle (5, Informative)

jayteedee (211241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271530)

So many problems. Lets see, where to start? Lets start with the word "cobbled" shall we. You NEVER just cobble together some rocket motors. When OSC (or others) use military rockets, there is an extensive retrofit to each motor: V-band separation instead of linear shape charges, replace liquid injection systems with thrust vector controllers, entirely new avionics, new safe and arm devices, new wiring, new raceway, batteries, etc. Plus, as the acticle CLEARLY stated, it was 2 military motors (Minuteman, probably SR-70 and M-55) and two motors from the Pegasus vehicle. Plus most of the re-used military rockets are re-poures with the cheapest ones I've seen being about $6 million (SR-19 motors). The Air Force didn't re-pay for these motors, but you can bet a civilian launch of the same vehicle would have to figure in the extra cost of the used military motors.

So what if it's a economically challened area, the STATE (and then states) funded the launch pad, NOT the feds. They are lifting themselves up for their own area, not looking for federal handouts. And ranges DON'T hire rocket scientists at all (unless the scientist is looking for a stiff pay cut). These are typical building maintenance and electronic types. Even if they could launch from their own port, it presents two problems. ALL federally controlled space ports are overpriced since their government jobs, and they want/need to have launch sites in different areas to allow different orbital insertion planes. The bottom line is the military likes having places like this or Spaceport Alaska to give them more options and lower overhead.

You should also point to this launch site, since it's a heck of a lot closer:
http://www.spacetoday.org/Rockets/Spaceports/Launc hSites.html#WallopsIsland [spacetoday.org]

And no, most military launches aren't any more secure than civilian launches. EVERYBODY is concerned when there is a multi-million dollar highly-explosive vehicle sitting on the launchpad. Only some launches are under super tight security (and contained unlabelled/mis-labelled cargo).

Re:Looks like a boondoggle (1)

mhollis (727905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17287398)

OK, I've been seriously modded down for my post (parent). I tend to not be modded down.

You prove my point here. The military rockets are developed and paid for by the military. Then they're retrofitted (at the public's expense, which is my point) for "non-military" use. Then they're used for a military test (actually two). Your $6 Million figure is probably pretty realistic in terms of the civilian cost -- the total cost of the program was stated in the article.

What I'm getting at is this money is all taxpayer money. It comes from the Feds (military develop and manufacture of Minuteman and Pegasus launch vehicles). It comes from the two states participating in the venture (call it a range if you want, but it did take real military scientists to retrofit the military rockets) to pay for the range (either bought land or leased) the retrofit (those durned scientists again) and to create and maintain the facility. Then their first customer is one that probably could have done the launch themselves with their own range, and that's federal money being poured back into the state operation.

Look, I'm not trying to come off here like some flaming anti-government program nutcase. I believe the government ought to take a role in helping depressed areas get back to work. But this looks like a taxpayer fleece akin to the Bridge to Nowhere [taxpayer.net] , taxpayer money used for development, development and to use the development.

As I said in my parent article, the citizenry of the two states might better benefit from a cash payout to the people living in the depressed area to move to a better area for jobs.

Re:Looks like a boondoggle (1)

DementedChihuahua (1027278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17277794)

Is anyone else curious why the "space industry" can't seem to bootstrap itself? There have been hundreds of research teams and thousands of launches of variuos kinds over the last 40-odd years and yet we still spend weeks on the launch pad trying to clear up a software glitch!

It seems to me that they need to rethink the model and redesign the way we do space launches. Before BitTorrent downloads could be fast if you had the right connection. They would be unrealiable if they were too long however. After BitTorrent they could be much faster and more reliable!

Fix this stuff. I want to go to space...

I saw it (5, Interesting)

rrkaiser (676130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271188)

I made an early morning trip to a local laudromat in Bowie, Maryland. I normally get there a little before 7:00 A.M. EST. Sunrise happens now around 7:10 A.M. It's a pleasure to see the sky and clouds change color and appearance as sunrise nears.

As I watched today, I said, "What's that?". To the east a thin bright white contrail grew longer and longer. What's that? I had no idea. Something "shiny" was drawing a line on the sky. The contrail quickly went from a line to jaggy. My guess - Something must be traveling vertical, going through different wind layers.

Acceleration was easily visible - not at all like a cruising plane. It changed course from what may have been nearly vertical to something much closer to horizontal. At times, a long "wake" was visible - a bright line vee from the base of the "shiny thing".

I had no idea what I was looking at. Now I do.
Shiny? The rocket exhaust flame? The distance from Bowie to Wallops is on the order of 100 miles, I can't have been seeing the rocket itself.

It might be decade or so since that last time I've seen a "not looking for it" launch display from the Wallops area.

Re:I saw it (3, Funny)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 7 years ago | (#17273134)

If I saw a missile/rocket flying through the sky near the DC suburbs, I'd be running underground as fast as I could.

Senic route (0)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271242)

It left a zig-zag contrail in the southern sky and the separation / ignition of one of the upper stages was clearly visible.

Because going straight up is just too easy.

Also aboard the rocket is NASA's GeneSat-1 satellite, which carries a harmless strain of E. coli bacteria as part of an experiment to study the long-term effects of space on living organisms.

Until they get hit from all the radiation from the sun spots this week. Let me be the first to welcome our new E. coli overlords.

The delay added "a couple hundred thousand dollars" to the $60 million price of the mission, Air Force Col. Scott McCraw, the mission director, said Friday. Included in the total is the cost of the rocket and the two satellites and $621,000 the Air Force will pay the spaceport.

Anyone know how that compares to Ariane or what the Russians can boost them for? Two birds for 60 mil seems pretty reasonable.

Re:Senic route (1)

OrangeTrafficCone (535434) | more than 7 years ago | (#17272466)

My son and I saw the trail as we were packing his hockey gear (south of Dulles Airport, due west of DC proper)... I had no idea that it was from a rocket at the time (makes perfect sense now). Cool to be returning to the good ol' days of small-scale spaceflight, especially outside my front window.

Video of Launch and More Info (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17271388)

Can be found at: http://www.wff.nasa.gov/tacsat2/ [nasa.gov]

smoke trails (3, Funny)

jafac (1449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271634)

The minotaur IIRC, is basically a repurposed minuteman III.

The nice thing about solid fuel rockets (as opposed to liquid-fuel), is that they leave a nice, visible trail as they ascend, which often persists for 30 minutes or more. Here on the W/C, we get to see minuteman missile tests out of Vandenberg 2-3 times a year. (mostly in the middle of the night, though).

When you see something like an Atlas or Delta go up, there isn't much of a trail at all, so if you aren't watching closely, you can miss it.

Of course, there are some bad things about solid-fuel rockets; the exhaust is often pretty nasty stuff, corrosive, and toxic. Plus, you can't throttle them back or shut them off if something goes wrong. On the other hand, they're so simple, mechanically, you're not likely to need to throttle them back.

But the best thing about solids, is that they usually supplement the larger Atlas and Delta vehicles, and you get to hear rocket scientists talk about "strap-ons".

Curiouser and curiouser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17278644)

having lived on Merritt Island for 30+ years (and having worked at KSC), I find some of your comments amusing.

Some thought....you should check into the shuttle's solid-rocket booster and see if they do a "throttle-up".

And personally, I've always seen the Deltas and Atlas VERY clearly when they went up.

(of course, it's MUCH easier to see them when they blow up, but hey!)

Mid Atlantic? (1, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17274060)

Ye gads, that is so far from the mid-Atlantic, it isn't even funny.

So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17277144)

At 30 million per satellite, it's still in the province of governments. The fact that it's owned by a commercial business doesn't really make much of a difference.

Re:So what? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17279818)

That's well in the range of business launches. As I understand it, commercial satellites can cost several hundred million dollars.

Obligatory Star Wars Quote: (1)

SonicSpike (242293) | more than 7 years ago | (#17280768)

"Mid-Atlantic Commercial Spaceport...you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."
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