Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Europe Unveils New Space Plane for Tourist Market

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the another-toy-for-the-elite dept.

Space 139

mrminator writes to tell us Space.com is reporting that Europe's largest space contractor, EADS, has just announced their plans to build a new space tourism vehicle. The new rocket, powered by liquid methane and liquid oxygen will carry passengers on a 90 minute round trip flight for somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 euros ($267,000).

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Cheap Thrill (3, Interesting)

biocute (936687) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497651)

$200,000 isn't that much to many people, so a target of 4,500 customers per year by 2020 seems reasonable.

On top of that, by 2020, many more "poor" people might also be able (and willing) to save up $200K for a taste of pseudo-space.

More importantly, no businessmen will allow one company to tap into this multibillion-dollar industry unchallenged, which means ticket price can only go down.

Re:Cheap Thrill (3, Insightful)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497715)

Um, $200,000 is 10 years' salary for someone "poor" by U.S. standards, and 1000 years' salary for someone relatively "poor" by global standards. Sorry, but by any meaningful definition of the word, anyone who is willing to pay $200 grand for a 90-minute flight is extremely wealthy.

Re:Cheap Thrill (1, Insightful)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497897)

Hmmmm.... Buget in about 170$ per month over 10 years and you can do it. Even on a "poor" salary. It's the whole power of budgetting your income. If you calculate your spendings correctly, you can set aside stuff in the long term without suffering. 170$ is less than a car payment (if you did a complete loan on your car). I won't say that the poor can, but this way it is in the range of the middle class of the western world. Learn about making a budget here. [slashdot.org]

Re:Cheap Thrill (2, Informative)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497997)

Erm, that only nets you 20K, not 200K. So, no, it's not doable by the middle class.

Re:Cheap Thrill (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498035)

Oops....Missed a zero in my calculations. I blame the wine I'm having.... Yes, in that case, scrap the middle class.

Re:Cheap Thrill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19499515)

Later (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499675)

I think he means "poor" compared to the multimillionares that this kind of thing is targetted at. The occasional dentist or doctor, that kind of thing.

Re:Cheap Thrill (2, Interesting)

lightversusdark (922292) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501249)

Poor by U.S. standards is no doubt rich by global standards, but by European standards you are probably starving.
In Europe, at least, $200,000 (or £100,000 if you prefer) is a living wage. By modern banks metrics (being prepared to lend you 3.5x your annual salary for a mortgage), £350,000 to spend on a property in London will buy you a 1 bedroom flat if you are lucky.

Wherever you are, would you pay half what it costs to own a box room apartment, to fly to outer space?
Of course it's all relative, and an unfair comparison, as there is no social infrastructure in the American societal model and consequently any "salary" figure is considered differently according to whether you expect to pay for education, healthcare etc. out of your earnings, and how much you expect to be taxed.

Re:Cheap Thrill (5, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497817)

$200,000 isn't that much to many people, so a target of 4,500 customers per year by 2020 seems reasonable.
Quite right, young man. I spend more than that in a week on fresh orchids and chewing gum.

Jeeves, fetch me my spats and pour me a brandy. I'm headed to the sky! Oh, and replace those twenty dollar bills in the lavatory with hundreds. The twenties are too scratchy.

Re:Cheap Thrill (1)

corifornia (995298) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497927)

Screw you poor people!!! I've got a quarter million thats been burning a hole in my pocket... Ive totally been waiting for something like this to waste it on.

Yes! Oh, and screw you too good causes.

Re:Cheap Thrill (1, Interesting)

MilesNaismith (951682) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498113)

I don't know where you live, but here in the USA, the rich get richer and the other classes get poorer. My real wealth is lower than my parents.

Re:Cheap Thrill (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500929)

Then you're a complete loser. Get off of your ass and quit with the excuses. My personal wealth far outstrips my parents' wildest dreams and I'm not anyone special. I was born in Georgetown, SC (the armpit of the nation) and grew up dirt poor. I paid taxes on an income in excess of 300 grand last year. Maybe you are wealthy too and are just parroting nonsense or are simply deluded. You could also be genuinely poor. If you are, seriously, get off of your ass; there is still plenty of opportunity in this country yet.

Re:Cheap Thrill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501265)

Yes the rich do get richer but the poor, having nowhere else to go, get richer also through handouts, welfare and other charity. It seems to be the middle class that continues to get fucked over.

Re:Cheap Thrill (4, Informative)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498691)

You mean 200.000€. It's 33% more.

Huge purple penis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19497675)

In your butt. [goatse.cz]

For that much money (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497679)

For that much money I would hope my 90 minute trip went further than around the neighbourhood.

Re:For that much money (1)

Wicko (977078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497829)

The summary made it seem too hopeful, considering its only a minute and a half in "space".

Re:For that much money (1, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498747)

I could tell right away that it was misleading. You can pretty much orbit the earth in 90 minutes. And it's not like they were just hovering; 90 minutes of hover is 9.8 m/s^2 * 60 * 90 = ~53,000 m/s delta-V, compared to the necessary ~7,800 m/s for LEO.

This whole "suborbital tourism market" is so stupid. You've got a dozen teams competing to share a market of people who want to spend 200k+ on a couple minute joyride when they could get the zero-G from parabolas and see the curvature of the Earth from a MiG for the tiniest fraction of the price, for hours on end. And yes, there are people who would want to do it. No, not several tens of thousands of customers *per year*. Especially once the reality hits home: rocketplanes have bad track records. These are not amusement park rides. Even widespread use, while it makes rockets safer, doesn't make them safe. Even on mature rocket systems, properly managed with good safety records, you're toying with a 1-2% fatality rate. That's a 1-2% fatality rate of people who find 200k to be disposable. It doesn't matter how many waivers you have people sign; that's a crazy amount of litigation that you're inviting. What sort of sane person's business plan involves killing several dozen multimillionaires per year?

Cue up poorly researched, incorrect comments stating "airplanes used to be like this!" in three, two, one ...

Re:For that much money (0)

DavidSev (1108917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499441)

airplanes used to be like this!
sorry :(

Re:For that much money (2, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501313)

I could tell right away that it was misleading. You can pretty much orbit the earth in 90 minutes. And it's not like they were just hovering; 90 minutes of hover is 9.8 m/s^2 * 60 * 90 = ~53,000 m/s delta-V, compared to the necessary ~7,800 m/s for LEO.

Of course, you can glide for 90 minutes using no fuel whatsoever. Once you spend a relatively small amount of deltaV to put yourself into a ballistic trajectory that takes you up 100 Km. 2 Km/s or so should be in the timezone of enough. Then glide for the best part of 90 minutes at mach 2+....

It's not like hovering gives you zero-G or anything - if you were to hover for 90 minutes, you'd experience zero seconds of zero-G

Re:For that much money (2, Funny)

aegisalpha (58712) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498055)

You're hoping for a happy ending? I believe that's 50 grand extra.

Liquid methane = bottled farts (-1, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497691)

Seriously, look it up, its science.

I see lots of govt dollars going to space tourism now, in the US, and now over "across the pond" in wackyland.

Will these costs ever be recouped? I seen governments build all kinds of doofy shit that turned out to be nothing but a waste of money in the end.

Sounds like election time pork. Do they vote in Europe or what?

Re:Liquid methane = bottled farts (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497801)

Lets be clear *if* private companies can make space tourism work in the end the technology will become much cheaper enabling us to further our reach into space (something not done since the Apollo Project)

Re:Liquid methane = bottled farts (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498819)

Um, no. These little rocketplanes little in common with the challenges of real, orbital rocketry. Consequently, they contribute as much toward advancing the field as a company that builds bumper cars contributes to Formula One racing. "But hey -- they're making millions of bumper cars for amusement parks all across the country!" That doesn't change the fact that they're not really helping, because what they're making millions of is the wrong thing.

In this case, these things have trivial delta-V requirements (so they don't have to deal with things like compressors and can use heavy materials, poorer (but easier to work with) fuels, no/minimal staging, and so forth)), they have minimal thermal requirements (so they don't have to deal with a problematic TPS), they're not exposed to long-term temperature extremes (which effects hydraulics, fuel, and so forth), and countless other things. I could make a list if you wanted. This sort of task has much more in common with airplanes than it does with orbital rocketry.

Re:Liquid methane = bottled farts (2, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497815)

Liquid methane = bottled farts

Seriously, look it up, its science.
Thank God they used a different, imaginary technology in Star Wars.

C-3PO: Sir, it's quite possible this asteroid is not entirely stable.

Han Solo: Not entirely stable! I'm glad you're here to tell us these things.

[The Millennium Falcon, under siege, won't start]

Princess Leia Organa: Would it help if I got out and farted?

Han Solo: It might.

Re:Liquid methane = bottled farts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19499551)

Methane is odourless. I believe the smell you find objectionable may be a mixture of methanal and methylamine

Re:Liquid methane = bottled farts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19497835)

"Will these costs ever be recouped?"

Costs of governmental spending are never recouped. Governments spend money in this way to, indirectly, create and hold jobs. Side benefits include holding a skills base that can be utilised for national defence and future economic advantage.

Every government does it, pure capitalism does not deliver these benefits - namely because pure capitalism only cares about what the bottom line is on a weekly and monthly basis.

The is Earth getting very full - ecosystem are straining under the weight of 6.5 billion people - the future is up in the air, and all governments are, in every and anyway, wanting to ensure that they have the ability to compete in this very new environment.

'Pure Capitalism'? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498157)

Where in the definition of 'pure capitalism' does it say that nobody cares about anything beyond the short term bottom line?

That might be a fair criticism of corporate capitalism in the 21st century. But even there historically (e.g. Bell Labs) corporations have been willing to invest in R&D. Someone it 50 years might be in a fair position to judge corporate R&D spending today.

Further R&D shouldn't be thought of as a jobs program (which is what's wrong with most government sponsored R&D).

$Ka-ching (4, Informative)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497723)

$267,000 is a lot of cash. Why right now you can get a seat on one of those 727s that can simulate zero Gs for a mere $3,675.00. Thats affordable for almost anyone who really wants to experience it. http://www.gozerog.com/ [gozerog.com]

Re:$Ka-ching (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497763)

You can go for a ride in a MIG much cheaper too, for my $$$ a fighter jet would be way more fun.

But then, I like a good rollercoaster more than one of those drop tower things. (you know, pulls you up, drops you.. yay thrill)

Re:$Ka-ching (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499841)

Or you can do like I did in my mid twenties, rent a Cessna 152 (currently ~$100 per hour in the U.S.) and simulate zero Gs yourself until you make yourself puke :)

Granted, earning the pilot's license will cost more than a single flight in the 727's, but you aren't limited to a single flight, either.

Re:$Ka-ching (1)

BiggerBoat (690886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499955)

I've done both and the Zero-G ride is more fun. In the Cessna (I actually did it in a Cirrus), you still have to concentrate on keeping control of the aircraft, and you're seat-belted in so you can't do a whole lot.

On the Zero-G ride, you've got about 25 seconds a pop to do almost anything you want, like flips and so forth. And then on the bottom of the parabola you can try 2G push ups if you like.

Re:$Ka-ching (1)

jsight (8987) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500167)

$100 for a 152? Yikes, the highest that I had seen was ~75. You could buy one for a couple hundred hours of flight time at that rate.

Re:$Ka-ching (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501789)

Yeah, I was shooting from the hip -- might be a little high. After the sticker shock of my last biennial flight review, my dad and I bought a little experimental together, so I haven't priced 152's lately.

90 seconds? (5, Insightful)

Judinous (1093945) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497741)

Cost issues aside, I think that 90 seconds of weightlessness in a 90 minute flight is rather lame. Aside from the nice view, wouldn't it be better to just rent out a stripped-down 747 and go into repeated dives, like they do to train astronauts for zero-g?

That's how they produced the first zero-G porn! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498179)

14 or so seconds at a time. Bet it sucked.

90 seconds wouldn't be much better.

Re:That's how they produced the first zero-G porn! (1)

swab79 (842256) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498679)

Bet it sucked.

One would hope so...

Re:That's how they produced the first zero-G porn! (1)

Biff Stu (654099) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499913)

That doesn't sound safe to me. How many Gs does the vomit comit pull when it comes out of it's dive?

Re:90 seconds? (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498373)

Aside from the nice view, wouldn't it be better to just rent out a stripped-down 747 and go into repeated dives, like they do to train astronauts for zero-g?

There's actually already a company that offers commercial zero-gravity flights on a stripped-down 727, offering flights in Florida and Las Vegas:

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_Gravity_Corporat ion [wikipedia.org]

That said, the impression I get is that it's not so much the weightlessness which is desirable about suborbital spaceflights, but the view.

Re:90 seconds? (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498813)

For starters, 100 km is quite a bit better view than a meager 10 km in a 7x7.

Re:90 seconds? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498897)

It's 25km in a MiG. Here's the view [space-travellers.com] .

Anything that gets people investing in space... (2, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497745)

For me, anything that gets people investing in space is a good thing.

IMHO, and this does sound a bit corny, but there are two technologies that are the key to the survival for humans long-term... Energy and space, so people can get self-sustaining colonies on the moon, Mars, and outwards.

Re:Anything that gets people investing in space... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19497841)

I agree and I am wildly enthusiastic about the prospects.

Methane is much more easily obtained than some of the alternatives. Heck, there's so much methane available on Earth, I've got methane coming out my ass, literally.

The thought that maybe, just maybe, my sulfurous, nose hair curling ass bombs will one day provide for the future of mankind, well, it makes me just a little misty eyed. Or maybe that's the smell of my latest anal purge.

Re:Anything that gets people investing in space... (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498033)

If only we had self sustaining nations here >_>

Re:Anything that gets people investing in space... (1)

figgypower (809463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501299)

This is off-topic, but... why would we even want self-sustaning nations? That just gives countries way more leeway to perform greater acts of jackassery. If your economies are tied you think twice about blowing someone up, because hurting them will hurt you. Besides, some groups of people are better at some things then other people, and you'll never (at least for not long enough to matter) get the best people for everything under one nation. It's better to leave those who are better at one task and concentrate on the the task who specialize in, because you'll both be better off for it.

Re:Anything that gets people investing in space... (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501331)

I meant in regards to nature, not economics. Bad word choice. Should have used "societies", not "nations".

Re:Anything that gets people investing in space... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501443)

"It's better to leave those who are better at one task and concentrate on the the task who specialize in, because you'll both be better off for it."

Yeah, that way they'll never ever bother trying something new. Really great.

Specialization is for insects, not humans. Are you a corporate drone?

Re:Anything that gets people investing in space... (1)

feyhunde (700477) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501659)

We're right now using a shit load of fuel that's been saved for a billion years. We don't have but one chance at this thing called society. Most plans I've seen for stability end up locking up standards of living and population. It also means using only renewable energies and doesn't have much new production possible

However, you get us into space and everything changes. Power, minerals, living space, all for the taking once we get to LEO cheap enough. One small metal asteroid will give the world decades of metal. A small methane-water ice asteroid will give us the resources to explore and exploit the rest of the system. Water, fuel, food. We can move all heavy manufacturing off earth, make pollution history, and get rich in the process

The reason why space might work is human greed making it possible, and the spin offs are going to be huge enough that everyone gets a better deal rather than locking the entire world into a single model and asking us to be rational.

Pipe Dream? (4, Insightful)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497757)

"Auque said the company has determined that designing and flight-qualifying its proposed space plane would require 1 billion euros in investment."

At about 18 Million per flight they would have to fly 55 flights to break even on their investment. Add on the maintenance cost they will incur and this looks like it will end up being AirBus space a 'company' which constantly has to be subsidized by European governments.

This also caught me "He said Astrium has surveyed other space-tourism projects, mainly in the United States, and found most of them lacking in engineering or business-model seriousness. "There are those who think you can design a rocket plane in a garage," Laine said. "Suffice it to say that that is not our niche."

Hello SS1? how many projects from Europe were serious contenders for the X-Prize? I would be willing to be that Virgin / SS1 is up in the air before this pipe dream..

Re:Pipe Dream? (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498019)

EADS is jumping the shark on this one over all I think it is a bad plan. Wouldn't it be better to get the A380 back on track and the A350 WXB off the ground before Boeing's 787 gets even more sales?
How far is the A400M behind? I know that the UK is leasing C-17s from Boeing to tide them over and may just buy them instead of the A400M.
I don't doubt that they could build this but seems like case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

Re:Pipe Dream? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19498413)

"Auque said the company has determined that designing and flight-qualifying its proposed space plane would require 1 billion euros in investment." ... this looks like it will end up being AirBus space a 'company' which constantly has to be subsidized by European governments.

The design and flight qualification only has to happen once. If they can build the "planes" for less than a billion each, then they could charge less for the flight, earn money each time, and eventually pay back the billion euro investment.

Of course, this is day-trader capitalism, if it can't turn a profit by the end of the quarter, it's not worth doing, right? Fortunately, I think Europe will find Virgin Galactic to fulfill their quota of "invented here" space tourism agencies and let this one die if it deserves to.

Re:Pipe Dream? (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498439)

"Auque said the company has determined that designing and flight-qualifying its proposed space plane would require 1 billion euros in investment."

I wonder why it costs so much. Branson's just spending around $200 million on development of the SpaceShipTwo series.

Re:Pipe Dream? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500579)

My guess is that this is just a device to pump investments into EADS to make up for Airbus's shortfalls. A pump and dump based on the nascent space tourism industry.

Seriously, they've been working on this for two years already, and all they have is a video game demo with video game physics. They want 1 billion so they can start designing and building this craft. What they are showing and promising is a flight that costs as much or more than Virgin's, but has 1/3 the time in weighlessness, in a cabin that is much smaller than what Virgin is showing. This is high-profile sleight of hand.

For all of their trumpeted expertise in aircraft and rocketry, they're pushing a straight-wing design as a supersonic plane?!? Also, what happens to those jet engines on re-entry? This thing is less than half-baked. If they are seriously working on something behind the scenes, it will not look anything like these renderings when it put forth in real life.

Beware. There are charlatans entering the market. This one, unfortunately, has the backing of a well-respected aerospace company. That doesn't change the fact that this entrant is doomed to failure.

--
I am posting this anonymously because I have vested interests and can't say any more.

Re:Pipe Dream? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501143)

> this looks like it will end up being AirBus space a 'company'
> which constantly has to be subsidized by European governments.

Actually, Airbus gets less government subsidies than Boeing:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/207500_boei ngeu12.html [nwsource.com]
http://www.buffalo.edu/reporter/vol35/vol35n40/art icles/Boeing.html [buffalo.edu]
http://www.defense-aerospace.com/cgi-bin/client/mo dele.pl?prod=45591&session=dae.26554147.1181794517 .@nCJ838AAAEAACY5icwAAAAB&modele=jdc_1 [defense-aerospace.com]

Re:Pipe Dream? (1)

w42w42 (538630) | more than 7 years ago | (#19502027)

So cutting the tax rate of a company to keep them in state is a greater subsidy than no interest - no risk loans? If it is Boeings money to begin with, and the state is just taking less of it, how is that a subsidy?

Given the choice as a business owner - lower taxes, or development loans that I only have to repay upon profit, I believe I know which one I'd be going for.

Re:Pipe Dream? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501531)

Hello SS1? how many projects from Europe were serious contenders for the X-Prize?

About the same as there were in the rest of the world - essentially none. And the reality is Scaled wasn't a serious contender either, until Paul Allen funded them.

Re:Pipe Dream? (2, Insightful)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 7 years ago | (#19502139)

And Boeing has never been subsidised by the US gov? Give me a break.

Round trip? (3, Insightful)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497775)

That that just mean landing on Earth? How about they throw in a landing zone in Texas so that people can get an intercontinental flight out of it?

Re:Round trip? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498613)

That that just mean landing on Earth? How about they throw in a landing zone in Texas so that people can get an intercontinental flight out of it?


Actually, I read recently that Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic [wired.com] will be doing exactly that.

fifteen other groups have plans (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497789)

What so special about htis one, other than being six or seven years behind the crowd and just as expensive?

Re:fifteen other groups have plans (2, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498541)

What so special about htis one, other than being six or seven years behind the crowd and just as expensive?

I think what's different about EADS is that they're the first already-established aerospace company to announce suborbital space tourism plans. Of course, this is also probably why they're announced development costs are so much higher than everybody else's.

Re:fifteen other groups have plans (3, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498927)

And why their odds of success are better than the abyssmal record of rocketry smaller companies whose gravesites litter international scene.

Re:fifteen other groups have plans (1)

LenE (29922) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500697)

It give's 1/3 the time of weightless, compared to Virgin. You can wait a few more years to catch a ride. Oh, it's not an American design team. It's also a much more complicated vehicle than Virgin's, increasing the opportunity of "flight delays", making frequent fliers feel much more at home.

On the serious side, if it works, this plane wouldn't need a mother ship to carry it to launch altitude. On the flip side, why cary a set of jet engines to space when they become dead weight once they flameout.

The only other thing that's special about this plane is the fact that there are stock holders and governments of several countries that have vested interest in becoming pre-eminent in this field. Other entrants are private companies. They either have the money or they don't. Governments can always appropriate, and public companies can sell more stock. Press releases like this are perfect for attracting neo-techie stockholders into the fold. This is the only game in town where you can buy into the space tourism market, without being close personal friends of Bigelow or Branson.

-- Len

Re:fifteen other groups have plans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501841)

On the flip side, why cary a set of jet engines to space when they become dead weight once they flameout.

Umm.... because it's a true re-usable single-bodied space-craft?

It will take off using air-breathing jets, fly to altitude, engage rockets and leave the atmosphere, ballistically re-enter the atmosphere, restart the jets, and fly back to base.

Why carry wheels - they're only dead weight once you leave the ground!!

Cheaper alternatives (1)

pfedor (891281) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497793)

You can have one third of the zero-gravity time for two orders of magnitude cheaper: http://www.gozerog.com/ [gozerog.com]

Is It Just Me... (3, Funny)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497877)

Or does this thing look too much like the Planet Express ship for comfort.

Re:Is It Just Me... (2, Funny)

Jonathan_S (25407) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497989)

Or does this thing look too much like the Planet Express ship for comfort.

Sure, just like the Planet Express ship. Aside from the shape (doesn't have the "chin" of the PE ship), the proportions, the giant wing, the canards, the two jet engines, the lack of ventral fins, the lack of the top turret, and the lack of the gratings near the rocket.

Aside from those tiny insignificant details it is a dead ringer for the Planet Express ship.

Re:Is It Just Me... (0, Offtopic)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498017)

Sure, just like the Planet Express ship. Aside from the shape (doesn't have the "chin" of the PE ship), the proportions, the giant wing, the canards, the two jet engines, the lack of ventral fins, the lack of the top turret, and the lack of the gratings near the rocket.

Aside from those tiny insignificant details it is a dead ringer for the Planet Express ship.
Hey, the Vista Microsoft promised and the Vista they released are a whole lot alike except for tiny little exceptions like that. Quit being so picky.

Re:Is It Just Me... (1)

Random Destruction (866027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498291)

Vista? Talk about offtopic.

Re:Is It Just Me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19499251)

Offtopic? Talk about redundant.

Re:Is It Just Me... (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500033)

Vista? Talk about offtopic.
Nonsense. Vista slams are always on-topic. C'mon, this is Slashdot! :)

Is this what we need at the moment? (4, Insightful)

perlhacker14 (1056902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497887)

Right now, the focus should be on exploration and discovery, rather than interspace joy rides. Scientists and governments should begin focussing on manned missions to Mars and the like, rather than tourism. Will Space become another touristy area? With a price that most fairly well off bussiness people and the like may afford, that may well be the case. I, for one, think that our focus and money need be on exploration and discovery, rather than tourism.

Re:Is this what we need at the moment? (1)

AdmiralLawman (1073516) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498053)

Except this is private industry and not the government. (kinda) And whats your beef against tourism? Tourism could create a sustainable industry and infrastructure for the use of space that could not be created by the shuttle, nor the government for that matter.

Re:Is this what we need at the moment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19498551)

Except this is private industry and not the government. (kinda) And whats your beef against tourism? Tourism could create a sustainable industry and infrastructure for the use of space that could not be created by the shuttle, nor the government for that matter.

  And, as wise men have said, monkeys could fly out of my butt.

Re:Is this what we need at the moment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19498137)

Except this is how we get stuff. Take the internet for example.

Provide communications in the event of a nuclear war? Meh ok have fun.

Porn on my desktop? Sign me up!!!

This is the space travel equivelent of porn.

fi8st (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19497933)

goals. It's wh3n [goat.cx]

name change needed.... (0, Offtopic)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497945)

While a minute and a half is pretty cool, and this development is a step in the right direction, can someone maybe point out to the organization behind this, and especially to their marketing droids that they need a name change.

EADS -> (D)EADS

Not the best association, much?

Methane in Space (5, Informative)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497947)

To answer the posted question of "what's so special", it's the methane motor. NASA tested one, but nobody's flown with one yet.

All the major hydrocarbon fuels are within about 3% of each other in specific impulse. Methane, being readily available via natural gas, is very handy. However, it's a gas, compressed to liquid. That means its density is less than a liquid. The major liquid fuel (RP-1; pretty much JP-4/Jet A kerosene) is 22% more dense since it's a liquid. To make a methane engine worth putting into a human-rated craft will require a major step in pressure tank development. They'll need to cram a lot of gas in, and it'll have to fail safe (ie. not explode if it leaks). I suspect EADS made this part of their R&D for the project, or they'd have just gone with RP-1. For a comparison of fuels see http://yarchive.net/space/rocket/fuels/fuel_table. html [yarchive.net]

Re:Methane in Space (1)

Biff Stu (654099) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499865)

You don't need high pressure confinement if the methane is cold. At -161.6 C the vapor pressure is 1 atmosphere and pressure confinement is not an issue until the spacecraft is at high altitude. Since the TFA already states that the spacecraft will use liquid oxygen, which boils at -182.96 C at 1 atm, we can assume that they are planning to use cryogenic fuel tanks.

This is how far behind the curve they are.. (3, Informative)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19497995)

Virgin Galactic: "Work on the SpaceShipTwo design and construction is well advanced. Testing of the SpaceShipTwo prototype is likely to start in 2007 with commercial flights on the maiden Virgin Galactic craft, the VSS (Virgin SpaceShip) Enterprise, commencing early in 2009." Rutan usually delivers on his promises and that being the case.. Other hurdles Virgin Galactic has gotten over "NASA and Virgin Galactic announce a ground breaking and exciting agreement between the two parties to collaborate in future manned space technology. In particular, NASA confirms its willingness to make available to Virgin Galactic the unique capabilities and world class facilities within the NASA Ames Research Centre in California." 2-22-07

Why would anyone pay (2, Interesting)

hifisoftware (858860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498115)

I do not get why would anyone be willing to pay so much for a "extended" airplane trip. Riding a rocket to space and to the orbit is one thing. It takes bravery and provides an opportunity to live in really an outside world. But just to fly a bit higher then normal planes yet far far slower then what's needed for entering an orbit...? I just do not get it. Must be for people who really do not know what to do with their money. Some people think that private companies like that will eventually be able to fly into Earth orbit and beyond, but I think there is no reason to believe that it will happen anytime soon. Private companies can't brake laws of physics and are absolutely terrible with investing in fundamental physics research (the thing that costs tons and tons of money just to run an experiment that disprove a theory). So this is just a waste of money plain and simple.

So, how big is this market? (1)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498129)

Virgin is charging $200K a flight, these people are planning to charge a little more. Makes me want to ask a few market related questions:

a) How many people can afford to spend over $200K for a 90 minute thrill ride?

b) How many of those people would actually buy a ticket?

Seems like these companies are chasing after a very small market.

Re:So, how big is this market? (1)

veso_peso (1029298) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498403)

thousands of Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborginis etc. worth 200K or even more are sold every year. So there certainly is a market for such flights. Instead of buying a sports car ot luxury yacht why not go to space... But they should try a little more than 1min 30secs and why not use them also as a super fast transport for large distances.

Re:So, how big is this market? (1)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499071)

One catch.

If you drive carefully, a $200K automobile is still worth approx $200K 90 minutes after you buy it.

Re:So, how big is this market? (2, Informative)

crazyjimmy (927974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19498447)

I'm not sure this is really a company chasing after anything. This kinds seems like a "oh yeah? we can do that!", and is being thrown together purely for prestige. The best part is this line:

"Astrium President Francois Auque said one side benefit of the project is to shatter the cliche that established aerospace giants like EADS have lost their imagination and sense of daring."

Their imagination is to copy someone else.

Their daring... I guess that's trying to find investors for a $1,000,000,000 investment. :P

--Jimmy

Re:So, how big is this market? (1)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499991)

Well, according to a 2004 study, there are over 7.5 million millionaires in the US alone. With the recovery of the stock market, I'm sure the number is higher now. I'm equally sure there are almost as many millionairess in Europe, and in China, the number is growing every day. So, I'd say with a market of 20 million or so, there will be some fools who will want to do this.

Why not actually GO somewhere? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19498235)

If you're going into space on a 90 minute flight, why not actually GO somewhere, rather than returning to your point of origin?

How about a flight from London to Sydney in 90 minutes? That way you can at least have a nice holiday as part of the experience.

I've been waiting since the 80's for that aerospace plane that will get me from the USA to Australia in a matter of a couple of hours. What's up with that?

Re:Why not actually GO somewhere? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19498405)

I've been waiting since the 80's for that aerospace plane that will get me from the USA to Australia in a matter of a couple of hours. What's up with that?

You dummy, you're waiting at the wrong gate.

Re:Why not actually GO somewhere? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501961)

"I've been waiting since the 80's for that aerospace plane that will get me from the USA to Australia in a matter of a couple of hours. What's up with that?"

The Brits were working on one which would do the trip from London to Sidney in the 1960s. But the Americans got very jealous that they weren't doing it, and attacked the project, trying to close it down.

The early refusals to let Concorde fly to the US, and the refusal to buy the aircraft were part of this. The US protected their home aircraft industry by making it uneconomic for anyone in the world to develop anything else.

So we ended up with the 747 instead of an exo-atmospheric hyper-sonic transport. Look at Terence Nonweiler, the inventor of the WaveRider concept in the 1950s. Now he is dead the US is using his ideas as if they were US invented.

Simple math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19498501)

At $50 PER SECOND can anyone think of a more expensive hobby? Diamond studded golf in the bayou? Occupying Iraq? I'd expect at least one person to sign up simply to say they've done the most expensive thing a human can do.

On a similar note, I wonder if Snoop Dogg will fly it just so that he can claim to have gotten higher than any other stoner ever.

If you're curious, as I was, the war in Iraq has taken somewhere on the order of 133,000,000 seconds and cost on the order of $434,277,000,000 http://costofwar.com/ [costofwar.com] for a cost of roughly $3,265/second, an impressive number to be sure, right up until you divide it by the number of taxpayers.

WWOT FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19498675)

munches 7h3 most [goat.cx]

Pricing (4, Funny)

mqduck (232646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500449)

The new rocket, powered by liquid methane and liquid oxygen will carry passengers on a 90 minute round trip flight for somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 euros ($267,000).

How much for one way?

Politics of investment (1)

Asterra (1087671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500559)

Smart guy. By asking for money and casually dismissing US success in the same breath, he'll be garnering a lot of support from folks who were put off by losing another space race to the Americans. The diss was calculated.

Karman Line (3, Interesting)

kilo_foxtrot84 (1016017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500861)

I think some people here are missing part of the draw of such a venture as this. People aren't interested in spending the money just for a minute and a half of weightlessness... they're interested in considering themselves astronauts. Once you break the 100km altitude mark--the Karman Line [wikipedia.org] --you're in outer space. If you're in outer space, you're technically an astronaut. People want the title, as it is still somewhat exotic and mysterious.

If you think about it, space exploration is turning out to be just like the development of powered flight. It starts with a handful of daring, adventurous explorers, followed by governmental applications and novelties (like barnstorming and such), leading to common use by a large portion of society. Right now, we're moving through that second phase.

Why oh why in fuck's sake... (1)

FFFish (7567) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500927)

...do I bother recycling and trying to reduce my carbon footprint?

Nothing I ever do to change the way I live will have the least little effect so long as assholes are taking vacations in space.

Re:Why oh why in fuck's sake... (1)

808140 (808140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500999)

Are you serious? The number of people in the world who can afford such a flight number in the hundreds, maybe. If prices were to fall to such a point where the average SUV-driving joe could afford it, then you might have a point. As is, you're completely disregarding scale: even if taking a flight up to space were 100 times more polluting than a conventional airplane flight, heck, even if it were 1000 times more polluting, the actual carbon footprint left by these flights would be miniscule compared to the one left by conventional air travel.

Of course, if this were all to become extremely affordable and everyone were doing it, then the industry would need stiff environmental regulation, like any polluting industry does. But regulation right now would simply stifle a growing industry, one that people are unsure can survive in the first place. There's no reason to kill it just because the pollution per head is high, if you're certain the number of heads is exceedingly low. Think of it this way: would air travel have ever gotten off the ground in the first place if today's emissions standards had been in force back then? They were having enough trouble just making planes fly reliably, the burden of making them do it cleanly would have been pretty insurmountable.

Fuckin' nationalistic Slashdot editors! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501755)

EADS is a random european company. So how does "Europe" unveil a new space plane? It doesn't. If the company in question was US-American would the headline read "USA Unveils New Space Plane"? No. So screw your stupid nationalism.

EADS is NOT random (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19502297)

It is the owner of airbus and has enjoyed large gov. support for developing the entire airbus planes. [wikipedia.org] In addition, and more important, it is the designer of the Ariane and it was all paid for by EU. My guess is that they will be looking for another EU payment before long akin to what is happening with the Galileo sat, system.

As to USA reference, Yes, I would expect that a number of articles about spaceX's, scaled, and t-spaces to say that America did this. And it should. They are all American companies and most likely more than 75% of the tech will be American (though some subsystems may come from other western nations). And it would be written that way in EU papers.

What a load of trash (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19502189)

Throughout another article, they look down their noses at the efforts being undertaken referring to the engineering behind it all. [spacedaily.com] We have ruled out the idea of a simple rocket, which can not be used again, or of a small vessel attached to a large plane, the idea chosen by Virgin Galactic of Richard Branson, but which seems to us less safe IOW, they knock spacex, t-space, and scaled composites. This is the SAME group that is taking forever to do the A-380, which is poorly engineered and in trouble due to nationalistic politics. In addition, they had to obtain more funding from EU to do another aircraft to compete against the 787. But they promised that the 380 would be the last.

Now, they say that Burt Rutan has horrible engineering. Burt's multitudes of aircrafts have set a number of records. Even later in that article, they speak of using hamocks which is straight out of one of the poor American companies (t-space). Spacex is looking at having rockets launch at a fraction of the price of the ariane V with slightly more payload due to "poor" engineering (and that is without the rocket re-use that they will employ). And all of that is without any gov. subsidy.

As to the design behind Scaled's work, it has been the EXACT same idea that NASA wanted in the 70's (but nixon killed). In addition, so did EU, at first, before settling on Ariane's design. The idea being to not carry the jets and their covers to space. By taking the approach that they suggest, they will either have to take 3 tanks to space or use a dropped fuel tank. IOW, they have not learned the lessons that the American Shuttle vs. The Russian Shuttle (a theft, but better designed by moving the engines off the shuttle). Scaled did. They will be able to get to space MUCH sooner than EADS just due to this one item. Scaled's WK II will be used to carry not just the sub-orbital rocket (SS1.5), but will also carry SS2. It will be far easier to convert the SS1.5 to SS2. And they will not have to worry about WK.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?