×

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!

2008, The Year of the Spaceship

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the need-to-win-the-lottery-and-buy-a-ride dept.

Space 126

DynaSoar writes "2008 Could be a the year of the Spaceship. Virgin Galactic intends to unveil White Knight 2 as well as Spaceship 2 during the next year, at this point planning for January. Burt Rutan, always reticent to comments on progress of any project, says nothing to support or contradict Virgin Galactic's announcement. However, the report states that Spaceship 2 is 50% complete and White Knight 2 is 60% complete. In addition, Virgin Galactic is considering using White Knight 2, or possible its successor White Knight 3, to put small satellites in orbit for a cost of US$3 million, less than half the current front runner in (projected) low cost orbital launches; SpaceX's Falcon at US$6.7 million. Tourism aside, this could be an extremely lucrative spin off of Virgin Galactic's original plans. If this turns out to be a profitable endeavor, the cost of tourism flights could drop significantly."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

126 comments

Year of the Spaceship? (5, Funny)

JKSN17 (956518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641117)

Is this the new 2.0 edition of the Chinese Calendar. Let me know when it's the year of the iPod.

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (2, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641179)

There's probably a "year of Linux on the desktop" joke to be made from that subject as well, followed up with the standard flames, counter flames, trolls, etc.

Me, I'll wait for the year of the back-to-basics-keep-it-simple electronics, thanks.

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641887)

Me, I'll wait for the year of the back-to-basics-keep-it-simple electronics, thanks.

Tell me your not going to start up a religion based on back to the basics anti-complicated technology. Well, if you do, you can branch from the mennonite belief structure and create your own "Techish" (or would it be "Amnologist"?) society where you shun any form of complicated technology in favor of a simple life. You can solder your own boards, print your own chips and resolve to never use that confounded OLED technology.

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (4, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642061)

No, but recently I went to buy a microwave.

My requirements are simple, I should, at most, have to hit one button, enter the time I wish to cook my food, and then hit start. It can have optional temp control, etc, and I'm fine, but some of the microwaves I saw had all kinds of complex and barely useful functions that I found unecessary, and the interface had simply putting in the time more complex than needed.

I had a similar experience with a blender - on, off, speed, that's all I need. I found several with different food type modes, but no specific speed control.

Analyzing all of their modes, determining what they mean (and if you agree with them, often they don't agree with other makes and models) gets incredibly annoying. I don't need someone to tell me how to cook my food.

I'm not saying that we should avoid anything complex, but we should keep things as simple as possible for the job at hand, and not add extra coplexity at the cost of simplicity. My microwave, for example, has all of those extra modes (which I don't use), but it didn't put them in at the cost of simplicity, it acts very straigthforward, unless I press one of the mode buttons.

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (3, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642459)

I was just thinking that about my DVD player remote. It has play/pause/ skip etc, but then it has three men buttons, a num pad, and at least 15 other buttons that I have never touched. In the 8 years I have owned the DVD player some 30 butttons haven't ever been used, yet every new DVD player has all those same buttons.

WHY?

I ask as I have been using Apple's front row to watch some dvd's on my comuter, and apple's 6 button remote is simple to use and I have used every button on the player. Add a power button and i would love to use it as my DVD player remote. Possily a separate eject button but even that isn't nessecary. You have to get up to get the disc anyways, leave the eject button on the drive.

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642687)

Heh, it's always annoyed me when a microwave makes you press a button before entering the time when you're just cooking something on high for N seconds. IMHO, every microwave should let you just punch in the time and press start, since 90% of the time that's all people are doing with it anyway. If you want different power levels or modes or whatnot then it's perfectly fine to press a button to switch it into that mode, but the default should exist and be useful. There is no reason for the "Time Cook" button to exist outside of possibly those programmable microwaves.

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642929)

It's the soap dilemma. i.e. It's astonishingly difficult to find plain soap. Manufacturers want to differentiate their products to justify above-commodity prices so they add all kinds of antibaterial agents, detergents, plant extracts, magical micro-scrubby bits, apple stems, etc. To the point that simple plain soap is almost nowhere to be found. (Typically I can only ever find Ivory)

Tacking on much beyond the ever-popular "Popcorn" preset button is just the manufacturers adding more bells and whistles to make their microwave look less like a commodity.

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646303)

Plus every popcorn button I've ever used always burns my popcorn. I have yet to find one that actually cooks it well.

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21642477)

Well, if you do, you can branch from the mennonite belief structure
The Amish are not a branch off of the Mennonite church, Mennonite and Amish both came from the Anabaptist reformation. At least get your facts straight before you try to make fun of a people and their beliefs.

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642753)

I never said they did, and for the record, I wasn't making fun of anyone... but believe what you must in order to feel comfortable about yourself.

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (3, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641405)

"2007 Could have been a the year of the Spaceship. Virgin Galactic intends flew White Knight 1 as well as Spaceship 1 during this, at this point planning for January. Burt Rutan, always reticent to comments on progress of any project, says nothing to support or contradict"

How about waiting for something to actually happen before posting it 9on slashdot? I mean yeah, we all like science fiction but come on.

What university can I attend to get my PhD on Futurism?

-mcgrew (who has lived long enough to know that anyone who pretends to predict the future is a fraud, and anyone who asks "will the year [n] be the year of the [x]?" is ob crack.

PS: "reticent to comments"? I rest my case!

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (3, Funny)

mseidl (828824) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642023)

I'm tired of "This is the Year of..."

"This is the year of the linux desktop"
"This is the year of the space ship"
"This is the year I lose my virginity"

As much as I want these things to happen, they wont come true. :(

Re:Year of the Spaceship? (1, Offtopic)

orasio (188021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642303)

I'm tired of "This is the Year of..."

"This is the year of the linux desktop"
"This is the year of the space ship"
"This is the year I lose my virginity"

As much as I want these things to happen, they wont come true. :(
For me, the year of the Linux desktop was 2002. From then on, it was easy enough for me to have a Linux desktop, and interoperate with only minor annoyances (much less time involved than increased maintenance involved with a windows desktop, at least in my case).

You are right about the spaceship, but with the other thing, it's a non issue. Eventually you grow up and get laid, or at least there's "the year of the hooker".

Here's how they should fund this... (1)

daggre (631200) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642637)

Just some thoughts: Ok asking for deposits on future tickets is a bad idea. Instead, they should be selling sponsorships both corporate and individual and get the U.S. populace to be part of this. Phase 1: Sell engraved pavestones, engravings on a wall of sponsors, advertisements, construction tours, etc. and get this rolling. Phase 2: Continue selling sponsorship for construction of shuttles based on best existing reusable craft design at that point. Phase 3: Once they have the spaceport built, they should start selling sponsorship of a commercial space port and begin construction as soon as possible. Primary focus of the spaceport would be in-space construction. Phase 4: Build space-locked (non-landing) mining ships at the space port, and start mining near-Earth asteroids . At this point the space economy would be started, as the minerals mined could be used to build new stations and ships to continue the process with the only planetary launches/landings required for crew and basic life support needs. Phase 5: At $10,000/kg cost to fly food into space, soybeans and other fast-growing crops should be grown in space as quickly as possible, starting an in-space food market to supplement the mining market and facilitate deployment of a much larger in-space workforce.

Cost of space tourism (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641131)

the cost of tourism flights could drop significantly

Or not.

"space" vs space (1)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641339)

While I'm certainly cheering on Virgin Galactic, and wish them well in this stage of their business model, I have to say that I won't really be personally tempted until an orbital tourist flight is available.

Of course, unless they establish orbital flights sooner and the price for same comes down farther and faster than I think it will, it's probably a moot point for me.

Re:Cost of space tourism (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641885)

the cost of tourism flights could drop significantly and most people would STILL never be able to afford it in a million years.

Re:Cost of space tourism (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641925)

Jesus Christ. If I can't afford space travel in a million years, just put me in a box and bury me in 6 feet of dirt, because I don't think I could live with myself.

not frosty piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21641133)

but still a bunch of nigger balls..

There is still time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21641167)

There is till time for me to go from pauper to baller so I can fly in to space!

To bad I'm always smoking weed and playing video games :-/

Re:There is still time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21642813)

You could always manwhore. I am sure that you would make lots of money doing that. Why, with 20 million tricks, you could then afford a trip.

But will the spaceship.... (1)

Slashidiot (1179447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641181)

run linux, so 2008 is the year of the spaceship AND the year of linux on the desktop?

Sure, if you have a spaceship on your desktop (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641231)

But will the spaceship...
run linux, so 2008 is the year of the spaceship AND the year of linux on the desktop?

Only, if you have a spaceship on your desktop. And, well, I don't know about yours, but mine is already cluttered enough as it is ;)

Re:But will the spaceship.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21641867)

Heheh, yeah, I'm pretty sick of the "Year of " bullshit too. Hopefully this shit will quit making the front page; it's always a waste of time to read.

Michale Vick Sentence: 72 months in Prison (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21641219)


Michale Vick sentenced to 72 months in prison !!

He shoulda killed a person. Woulda got less.

Re:Michale Vick Sentence: 72 months in Prison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21644251)

Not only way off topic, (what does vick have to do with spaceships) but he was sentenced to 23 months... and actually he wouldn't have got less for killing a person, becuase if he did have 72 months, he'd be eligible for parole earlier than he would for a murder sentence... Grow a brain... I thought this was a "news for nerds" place, and generally nerds, geeks, whatever you prefer, are generally smart...

White Knight 2 in orbit??? (3, Insightful)

Tango42 (662363) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641253)

Last I heard, White Knight 2 was the *first stage* of a *sub*-orbital launch. How is it meant to get anything into orbit? Starting a sub-orbital craft from high altitude (as WK2 allows SS2 to do) makes sense, but I can't see it being much help with an orbital launch.

Re:White Knight 2 in orbit??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21641863)

"Last I heard, White Knight 2 was the *first stage* of a *sub*-orbital launch. How is it meant to get anything into orbit? Starting a sub-orbital craft from high altitude (as WK2 allows SS2 to do) makes sense, but I can't see it being much help with an orbital launch."

Hmm, I've a revolutionary idea.

How about we use the First Stage (White Knight 2) to launch a *Second* Stage.

I should patent that, it might catch on...

Re:White Knight 2 in orbit??? (1)

nofx_3 (40519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646977)

There already is a second stage, Space Ship 2. The White Knight (poor choice of names, I see some crazy hick in a KKK hood when I hear it), is simple a very low weight high altitude jet that is capable of carrying the Space Ship 2 to a thinner part of the atmosphere closer to it's destination altitude so it can use a much smaller rocket to reach apex. This is similar to the military idea of using air breathing super jets (scram jets) to get missiles/rockets to a high altitude and speed so the rocket itself uses much less fuel and can subsequently weight significantly less yet carry a decent amount of cargo.

-kap

Re:White Knight 2 in orbit??? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641875)

Care to elaborate ? It has never been done before but the fuel saved by starting from high altitude seems to have a lot of sense to me even in the case of an orbital spacecraft.

Re:White Knight 2 in orbit??? (2, Interesting)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642545)

Typically the fuel saved is irrelevant - the real reason to launch a rocket from high altitude is better engines. To a certain extent, the efficiency of a rocket engine is related to the ratio of internal engine pressure to external engine pressure - so high altitude launch lets you use lower pressure (lighter) engines and keep the same expansion ratio.

Of course, most people do that by using a first stage rocket to throw the second stage out of the atmosphere - because experimental rockets are cheaper to develop than experimental aircraft (at least that is the idea). But if you have the airplane already, it makes sense to use it.

Re:White Knight 2 in orbit??? (1)

Karrde45 (772180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641979)

The Pegasus series of launch vehicles by Orbital Sciences is an air launched rocket that delivers small satellites to orbit. You don't really gain anything from the altitude per-se. Orbiting the earth is far more about velocity than about altitude. What you do gain is a noticeable drop in air density, which makes the rocket dynamics much more agreeable. For large craft it's not worth it, but for small ones it is a viable method to get into orbit.

Re:White Knight 2 in orbit??? (3, Informative)

savuporo (658486) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642001)

I suppose you werent aware of Airlaunch LLC [airlaunchllc.com] ?
Another possibility, as pointed out in some other posts, if you dont take passengers as payloads on SS2 but do take a payload, which is a third stage, and release it after SS2 motor burns out, you could reach orbit. Admittedly, having a special payload-carrying version of SS2 without a passenger cabin would make third stage separation easier, but there is a reason to suspect that something like that is being considered and built by Scaled. Rutan has hinted about Tier 3 project before.

Re:White Knight 2 in orbit??? (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642935)

Keep your common-sense, fact and physics-based nit-picking to yourself. Rutan will undoubtedly be able to accelerate his contraption from 1500mph to 27,000 mph. It's just a case of carrying enough tyre rubber and kerosene! Surely the Rutan-powered moon-base can't be far away now!

Oh wait, that's all bollocks, isn't it. Hey ho, back to reality...

risk in liquidity (4, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641257)

This whole space-tourism thing is at a precarious stage. Should there be just one freak accident, their revenue prospects would turn off like a Fossett.

Sorry, bad pun. In the 1970s, we seemed to be ready to do daring things even after lives are lost. Today, the public is far more risk averse. One more shuttle disaster and we'll be on the ground for twenty years. And I doubt a private company would fare much better than NASA in this regard.

Re:risk in liquidity (3, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641499)

This whole space-tourism thing is at a precarious stage. Should there be just one freak accident, their revenue prospects would turn off like a Fossett.


The only way this would have a significant impact is on a political basis. That would be, some idiot of a bureaucrat who gums up the whole thing by holding hearings and stopping anybody in any situation from using a rocket of any design to get into space.

In fact, that is precisely the problem that the USA has been facing in manned spaceflight.... that there has been one "true" design of a spacecraft. When a major design flaw is found with that spacecraft design, it shuts down the whole "industry" and makes a huge mess of things.

If you make the comparison to commercial aviation, this would be like trying to conduct passenger air travel with everybody using the same type of airplane or even the very same (very large) airplane. Yeah, if there is a problem or an accident involving that design, perhaps a serious inquiry should occur and perhaps even shut down all of the airplanes of that particular design. Luckily, there are enough different kinds of airplanes flying with commercial aviation that passenger air travel would continue even if the FAA completely removed one type of airplane with a particularly fatal design flaw...or even removed all of the aircraft of a particular manufacturer (like Boeing, for instance). Would that put that particular manufacturer into bankruptcy if their aircraft were grounded for a significant amount of time? Yeah. No doubt. But it still wouldn't kill commercial aviation, and in the long run it would actually be healthier for the industry as others would try to fill the economic niche left by the removal of that company, specifically trying to overcome the problems discovered.

While nobody, and I mean nobody, really wants to see somebody die in space, and I'll admit that I really am concerned about commercial spaceflight safety, even having a full spacecraft of passengers dying would not necessarily be "the end of the world". People die in amusement parks, and fairly often on roller coasters. A curious thing happens when people die in an amusement park, however: The number of customers actually goes up! I'm not kidding here. And the lines to get on the ride where people died actually get longer (once, of course, the ride is fixed and the park officials claim to have fixed the problem).

If, when an accident occurs for the commercial spaceflight industry during actual operations of the spacecraft, there will be some very intelligent (they are rocket scientists, you know) people who will be able to calmly and completely explain where the safety protocols broke down, what was the real problem, and be able to honestly say that the problem has been corrected. This has been a pattern since the beginning of commercial aviation or even commercial shipping of any kind, and I simply don't see this one transportation method being openly dismissed to the degree you are suggesting if somebody dies. Do people still ride passenger cruise ships through the North Atlantic since the Titanic sank?

Wussies... (2, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641571)

Fortunately not everybody in the world are wussies, only the US media seems to be overly concerned with safety. As for the real men, there are still lots of Evil Knievels out there.

Re:risk in liquidity (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642629)

People keep on saying this, and congressfools keep trying to legislate it. Not everyone is like you! Believe it or not, people climb mount Everest every year - and die trying. They pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the honor of narrowly avoiding (or succumbing to) slow death from cold.

People really do join the military when they have college degrees. People really do drive Nascars. Some people are not driven by fear to avoid death - they are driven to embrace life to the fullest.

Re:risk in liquidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21646053)

Some people are not driven by fear to avoid death - they are driven to embrace adrenaline rushes to the fullest.

There. Fixed that for you.

Re:risk in liquidity (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21643045)

Sorry, bad pun. In the 1970s, we seemed to be ready to do daring things even after lives are lost. Today, the public is far more risk averse. One more shuttle disaster and we'll be on the ground for twenty years. And I doubt a private company would fare much better than NASA in this regard.
As another poster noted, we still have plenty of risk-seekers engaging in risky activities. To be honest, there will be fatal accidents. There's no reason not to expect it nor will they be "freak accidents". The people who actually fly on these will understand those risks.

US$3 million! (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641297)

Just three ridiculous million dollars? With the contents of my wallet right now I could send 0.00002077886 satellites!

Interstellar domination is finally at reach.

Re:US$3 million! (2, Interesting)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641813)

I know your joking, but 3 million dollars is a significant reduction in launch costs.

The biggest hurdle I experienced in developing a low cost research satellite bus was the "impedance mismatch" between the cost of the satellite and the cost to launch it into orbit. It is almost impossible to sell a satellite that lowered costs by accepting some higher mission risks when you'll have to raise $30 million to put it in orbit. Even dividing this cost through multiple payloads is not always that great a deal since the secondary payloads are subjected to the requirements of the primary payload. This usually means accepting a less-than prime orbit inclination for your intended mission.

Re:US$3 million! (1)

Rock (The LARPer) (1201035) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642313)

Just three ridiculous million dollars? With the contents of my wallet right now I could send 0.00002077886 satellites!

Interstellar domination is finally at reach.
3,000,000*0.00002077886 = 62.33658 So you have bills and a change purse. Weird enough. How do you get the .00658th of a dollar?

Re:US$3 million! (1)

kryten_nl (863119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642937)

3,000,000*0.000020778865=62.336595
3,000,000*0.000020778855=62.336565

There is no cent value in that range, I'm hoping that the GP will explain this conundrum.

Re:US$3 million! (1)

gratemyl (1074573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21644465)

Ever considered that not everyone on the planet uses USD?

GP might be talking EUR, GBP, etc. - any currency really.

I do use EUR and USD heavily, but that doesn't mean Japanese people do.

Only sub-orbital? (2, Insightful)

WibbleOnMars (1129233) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641313)

I'm fairly sure Spaceship 1 was only able to get to sub-orbital altitudes. Assuming Spaceship 2 will have the same capabilities, surely that's a bit of a problem for their plans to launch satelites?

Re:Only sub-orbital? (1)

Vulch (221502) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641581)

Using White Knight 2, the carrier aircraft, not Spaceship 2. Take a small rocket that does have enough delta-V for orbital insertion up on the carrier aircraft instead of a Spaceship 2.

It may also involve a Spaceship 2.5 without the passenger capability that acts as a flyback second stage and releases a third stage at apogee.

Re:Only sub-orbital? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642993)

This reminds me. Scaled Composites likes to test their aircraft extensively. Having an unmanned vehicle with orbital capability would allow them to test a number of things without risking people. It's a good stepping stone to the desired orbital vehicle ("SpaceShipThree" if I'm not mistaken).

Re:Only sub-orbital? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21646607)

I'm pretty sure a carrier aircraft like the White Knight can't realistically scale up to a size capable of launching a manned capsule into orbit. The White Knight 2 is going to have about the take-off weight of a 737. That's for a suborbital rocket. The closest analog existing is the Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket (incidentally, the aerodynamic parts of the Pegasus were designed by Scaled Composites under contract), which only has a 900 pound payload capacity and requires a DC-10 to loft it. This isn't an ideal comparison because the Pegasus is carried under one wing, so the weight is limited by the unbalanced load.

However, the smallest manned launch vehicle currently available, the Soyuz, weighs over 310 tons fully fueled, not counting the payload, and you actually only save a fraction (~10% I think) of fuel by performing an air launch. The main benefit Orbital Sciences achieved was reducing infrastructure cost, which they can do because the Pegasus is solid fueled...there's no cryogenic propellants requiring special handling equipment or requiring continuous top-off prior to launch. Even the mighty AN-225, the largest airplane ever built, can't lift 300 tons.

Re:Only sub-orbital? (2, Informative)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641595)

They said White Knight 2 not SpaceShip2.

Another launch vehicle could be used at high altitude to boost a satellite into orbit.

obWho (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641315)

Burt Rutan, always reticent to comments on progress of any project, says nothing to support or contradict Virgin Galactic's announcement.
That's because this Rutan and his brethren [wikipedia.org] are far too busy preparing for the next stage in their ongoing interstellar war against the Sontaran Empire.

remind me of a Mitch joke (1)

Martian_Kyo (1161137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641323)

wow Spaceship Two...how long did it take to come up with that name

what will this this spaceship be called...how about spaceship, no! spaceship two, hell yeah! Meeting adjourned.

They said lets call this hotel something tree, so they had a meeting, it was quite short. how about tree, no! double tree, hell yeah! Meeting adjourned. I had my heart set on quadruple tree. Well we were almost there.

Mitch Hedberg was a funny guy.

Re:remind me of a Mitch joke (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642927)

wow Spaceship Two...how long did it take to come up with that name

Sounds like they didn't waste any time or money at all. Keep in mind that launching people into space is much better advertising than coming up with a catchy name for a prototype. ESPECIALLY, if you don't want your prototype's name to steal the thunder from the more extravagant names that your paying customers will come up with.

Re:remind me of a Mitch joke (2, Funny)

Martian_Kyo (1161137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21644187)

I know you're right. I am just glad my parents didn't name me Child Two. ;)

Re:remind me of a Mitch joke (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646583)

I am just glad my parents didn't name me Child Two.
Yea. You'd end up in a museum too. At least, your future siblings would get cool names, like Kinder Mender (TM) or TotTycho (TM).

2*** and beyond, the years of re-creation (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21641355)

no gadgets, or man-made 'vehicles' required.

the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption.

fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way

do not be afraid/dismayed, it is the way it was meant to be.

the little ones/innocents must/will be protected.

after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit?

for each of the creators' innocents harmed (in any way), there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available.

all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven.

no need to fret (unless you're associated/joined at the hype with, unprecedented evile), it's all just a part of the creators' wwwildly popular, newclear powered, planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

or, is it (literally) ground hog (as in dead meat) day, again? many of US are obviously not interested in/aware of how we appear (which is whoreabull) from the other side of the 'lens', or even from across the oceans.

vote with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable.

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Space Tourism != cheap (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641369)

So the flights will drop to 50K dollars instead of 100K ? Where do I sign up?

Re:Space Tourism = cheap (3, Insightful)

savuporo (658486) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642083)

Have a look what Armadillo Aerospace has quoted for their flight costs for Pixel & other VTVL vehicles.

Rutan's designs cost that much because he chose stage-and a half, HTHL approach, with hybrid motors. There is relatively high lower bar on flight costs for such thing, because you have to replace the motor for each flight, and thats expensive.
It made sense for winning the X-Prize, because Rutan is an expert of flying craft design, which involves wings etc. so thats what was fastest, lowest-risk development path. Whether it makes sense for really low-cost spaceflight is another matter.

VTVL vehicles, like the ones that Armadillo, Masten Space Systems, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and a few others are building can ( on paper, at least ) approach way lower flight costs in the future, which will remain a small multiple of liquid fuel costs. Expect to see prices in $10K range in less than a decade.

Re:Space Tourism = cheap (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646271)

Hopefully we can start getting mass into orbit faster and cheaper. I loathe the idea of being stuck in this gravity well when we run out of cheap energy.

Time to Completion (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21641411)

However, the report states that Spaceship 2 is 50% complete and White Knight 2 is 60% complete.
How many citizens would I have to sacrifice to have these done in 1 turn? I want to research advanced tech 4.

Re:Time to Completion (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641483)

You cannot hurry a wonder.

Re:Time to Completion (1)

baboonlogic (989195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641553)

You can, but you will need a great person for that... Maybe a great merchant or a great scientist...

How come we bypassed the year of the flying car? (1)

iBod (534920) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641565)

I want my flying car before my personal space ship.

Re:How come we bypassed the year of the flying car (1)

Zerbey (15536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646195)

They already exist... landings are still problematic, however. All you need is a good high cliff.

Skip the frenzy, this time. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641607)

Early adopters: This is a good example of when you don't want to be an early adopter. The first version of Windows XP caused a lot of grief for users. The first versions of cheap spacecraft are likely to cause even more serious grief.

When you recognize serious danger, skip the usual enthusiasm [mydogshavefleas.com].

So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21641737)

Natural resources are running out at a frightening pace, and instead of putting resources into researching alternative energy and sustainable growth, we put out huge amounts of greenhouse gases to send the richest 0,0001% on short tourist trips into space.

We are doomed, and I'm beginning to think we deserve it.

Eh (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642853)

This troll is tired. It's simple. If a resources is exhausted, we'll switch to a resource that isn't exhausted. Also, we're putting plenty of money into alternative energy and even "sustainable" growth. And we don't put out huge amounts of greenhouse gasses to send the richest sliver on short tourist trips.

Re:Eh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21643749)

This troll is tired. It's simple. If a resources is exhausted, we'll switch to a resource that isn't exhausted.

Yes, when all the animals are gone, we will just start eating plastics! And instead of beautiful nature we have concrete. Simple.

And we don't put out huge amounts of greenhouse gasses to send the richest sliver on short tourist trips.

Oh really? "Air travel is the world's fastest growing source of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which cause climate change. Globally the world's 16,000 commercial jet aircraft generate more than 700 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the world's major greenhouse gas, per year." And this was 2005, it is even worse today. Source [airportwatch.org.uk].

And now we are going to add space travel to that? You aren't very bright, are you?

Re:Eh (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647059)

Oh really? "Air travel is the world's fastest growing source of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which cause climate change. Globally the world's 16,000 commercial jet aircraft generate more than 700 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the world's major greenhouse gas, per year." And this was 2005, it is even worse today. Source [airportwatch.org.uk].

What's the relevance here? Air travel is a vital portion of humanity's travel infrastructure not rich people tooling around for their vacations. And it doesn't generate much CO2 compared to everything else out there. We can start by cutting less important sources of carbon emissions like deforestation and coal fires.

And now we are going to add space travel to that? You aren't very bright, are you?

What's the problem? Commercial space travel is a high value operation. Even putting rich people in space for a few days is more important that most of the stuff that money buys. I'm not inclined to sacrifice it just to feed hysteria.

Let me put it another way. Here's my ranking of what's important on Earth: intelligent beings, the legal and industrial infrastructure that maintains human technological society, the resources that feed this society, and the Earth's ecosystems. In that order. If someone makes me starkly chose between human society and preserving the natural world. I will chose human society. Not because humans are special, though they are. But because humans are intelligence and have used that intelligence to build something never seen before in the history of Earth. Even if this truly is another era of great mass extinctions, Earth's environment can recover from that. But throwing away a technological society may be more permanent.

Having said that, things change for me when we have a thriving space presence. Then we can move the ecologically harmful human endeavors from Earth into space where there is no ecosystem to harm. If that movement means a little more short term harm to the environment, then it is well worth the price.

Don't forget the rest of commercial spaceflight (2, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641831)

While Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites are certainly the focus of this particular article and thread, they are hardly the only commercial spacecraft corporation that is making some significant progress and will be making headlines in 2008 (assuming that everything is still working the way it should).

SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies [spacex.com], the company started by Paypal founder Elon Musk, is scheduled to perform their final test flight for the Falcon 1 in January, 2008. If all goes well, they may even get a flight of their larger Falcon 9 spacecraft before the end of the year. This is particularly significant for manned spaceflight, as their Dragon spacecraft is reliant upon the successful launches of these vehicles. Unlike the Virgin Galactic spacecraft, the Dragon spacecraft is going to have the capabilities of sending as many as six passengers to the ISS.... or anywhere else in Low-earth orbit. In many ways, I think this is going to be far more significant than what Branson is doing with Virgin Galactic.

In addition, the Lunar Landing Challenge will likely be "won" this time next year with the nearly dozen rocket teams competing for the purse. My heart broke when Armadillo Aerospace crashed and burned this year and failed to win the price objectives, but they certainly learned from their experience and will roll those designs into the next generation of their spacecraft. This particular challenge is certainly breeding many future commercial spaceflight companies that are flying real hardware, and not just some imaginative designs on paper that will never see the light of day.

I also don't know what Blue Origin is doing, but that is certainly a company to keep a close ear to the ground and at least try to watch for developments over this next year. Unlike several of the spacecraft manufacturers, they are avoiding the appearance of vaporware by simply not really announcing anything other than the fact that they own one heck of a lot of real estate in Texas and that they have had several successful test flights of their rocketry hardware.... and a long term goal of also doing commercial passenger space travel. They also have some investors with some deep pockets that can help get them there without having to "go public".

I'm just scratching the surface here as well, but there are some amazing groups of individuals who have been devoting resources to commercial spaceflight, and 2008 really could be "the year of the spacecraft", at least in terms of headlines generated by the mainstream press. Virgin Galactic certainly isn't going to be the only one in the headlines here, although they may be the first to send paying passengers into space on something other than a Soyuz capsule.

White Knight? (1)

Sodki (621717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21641929)

They would have gone with the Black Night, but he lost his limbs in a fight with King Arthur and thus couldn't handle the spacecraft. It's a shame, really.

They are going to make a bundle. (1)

wolff000 (447340) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642597)

I wish I had the kind of money to invest in Virgin Galactic. If they can come through on this they are going to have more money than Gates in no time. We are watching the future unfold here.

What about the planet? (1)

Chonnawonga (1025364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642707)

Hey, wait a minute. Space tourism is cool, and breaking governments' monopoly of space travel has its merits, but is no one concerned about the environmental damage this is going to wreak? Why is there no discussion of how much carbon these rockets are going to be spewing into all levels of the atmosphere?

Re:What about the planet? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21642797)

Why should we be concerned? I see neither a good demonstration that global warming is serious enough to warrant hindering the global economy or that something important but with a low carbon footprint like space launch should be subject to carbon emission regulation. This has all been discussed before.

Re:What about the planet? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646319)

I'm not sure what fuel SpaceX and Virgin Galactic use, but the US Space Shuttle burns primarily hydrogen/oxygen via it's three main engines (the SRBs use a solid propellant whose name escapes me at the moment). If we continue to use hydrogen/oxygen for sub-orbital/orbital launches, we should be fine as long as we have low-carbon methods of generating the hydrogen from water (nuclear, solar, etc).

friSt stop (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21642921)

up tod\ay! If 7ou they want you to

Premature (1)

dutchd00d (823703) | more than 6 years ago | (#21643195)

However, the report states that Spaceship 2 is 50% complete and White Knight 2 is 60% complete.

Well, you know what they say: the first 90% takes 90% of the time. The last 10% also takes 90% of the time.

Could be a while yet.

Apples and oranges (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21643931)

From the summary:
 

In addition, Virgin Galactic is considering using White Knight 2, or possible its successor White Knight 3, to put small satellites in orbit for a cost of US$3 million, less than half the current front runner in (projected) low cost orbital launches; SpaceX's Falcon at US$6.7 million.

That's a bit of a nonsensical comparison. The small satellites White Knight will able to launch will be a fraction of the size of that which could be launched by Falcon. Kinda like saying "I'm going to use a Vespa for package delivery because it is cheaper than a panel van".

Re:Apples and oranges (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646369)

I think Elon Musk is a great guy for starting SpaceX. When you decided "Hey, I want to colonize Mars.", find out the launch costs are way too high, and then decide to lower launch costs by doing your own development, that's just a fantastic thing to do I think.

Yawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21646613)

Wake me up when Virgin Trains run on time in the UK.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...