Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

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!

SpaceShipTwo Design and Pics Released

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the stuff-i'll-never-be-able-to-afford dept.

Space 245

An anonymous reader writes "Designs and photos for Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic's new suborbital spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, and its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, have been released." Lots of specs and numbers if you're interested in that sort of thing although nothing hugely detailed.

cancel ×

245 comments

Wow (1, Offtopic)

The Psyko (11244) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155138)

Would have thought by this time the editors would have learned apostrophe rules. They aren't that hard.

Please do NOT click on this! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22155180)

Spaceship3 [goatse.cx] will take off when they find a way to ignite the methane gas emanating from the orifice of this structure.

Uh.....why is this modded down? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22155340)

You might want to try clicking on that link before you mod him down.

Hey Moderators! LICK MY SALTY NUTSACK! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22155696)

If you click on the link, it takes you NOWHERE. So how is the parent a troll? Eat that, douche-bag!

Re:Wow (-1, Redundant)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155234)

Lot's of people ha've problem's with 'apostrophes, you insensitive clod!

The crux of the biscuit (1)

j-stroy (640921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155308)

Luckily Frank Zappa has detailed its correct usage in an easy to use LP format.

Re:The crux of the biscuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22156190)

Don't you mean "it's" usage?

Re:Wow (1)

dmitrybrant (1219820) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155286)

Look's like the new design's are really impres'sive.

Re:Wow (1)

Scubafish (1224972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155370)

I didn't notice any apostrophes but I think there are a couple of commas they could have done without.

Nothing to see here (-1, Troll)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155144)

Oooh, yeay. Another joyride that contributes absolutely nothing to space exploration.

If you disagree with this statement, go ahead -- explain why you feel that a vehicle with this low delta-V, horrible ISP, and proportionally high mass that faces bare minimal reentry heating -- advances the state of the art.

Re:Nothing to see here (5, Insightful)

FlatEric521 (1164027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155194)

Really, the primary thing this project has going for it is that it is not funded by a government. It might be boring and not state of the art now, but further development of private space flight should lead to some truly interesting technology and vehicles.

Re:Nothing to see here (-1, Troll)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155390)

Really, the primary thing this project has going for it is that it is not funded by a government

So is your average bobble head doll manufacturer. And they're just as relevant to improving orbital spaceflight. If you want someone to cheer for, cheer for SpaceX, for Orbital Sciences, for SeaLaunch, for any of the private companies involved in *actual orbital spaceflight*.

Re:Nothing to see here (3, Insightful)

hador_nyc (903322) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155896)

So is your average bobble head doll manufacturer. And they're just as relevant to improving orbital spaceflight. If you want someone to cheer for, cheer for SpaceX, for Orbital Sciences, for SeaLaunch, for any of the private companies involved in *actual orbital spaceflight*.
The problem with your logic is that you are missing the effects of changing the norm. Sure, like another commenter said in response to your comment, a Buick is not amazing, but it's reliability is compared to a Formula 1. The Shuttle is a Formula 1, so is SeaLaunch and the others. They aren't trying to move people on the scale and with the safety of these guys, but think if all the cars in the world were just race cars. This will change things; particularly, to continue my analogy, when SpaceShipTwo is basically the Model T. With the funds they will get from selling these trips to the public, sexy advances can be made; ones that I think the other companies will have difficulty keeping up with.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155980)

I assume SpaceShipTwo will earn money, some of which will be put toward the design of SpaceShipThree or SpaceShipFour or whatever that will someday be orbital. It seems very relevant to me - crawl before you can walk.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Protonk (599901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156010)

I'm not exactly cheering for OSC. And what has Sealaunch done that is so revolutionary?

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156084)

So is your average bobble head doll manufacturer. And they're just as relevant to improving orbital spaceflight. If you want someone to cheer for, cheer for SpaceX, for Orbital Sciences, for SeaLaunch, for any of the private companies involved in *actual orbital spaceflight*.

You forgot one very important word:
*Manned* spaceflight.

SpaceX might have launched, but not a manned mission, yet. Virgin Galactic in that regard is quite a ways ahead.

Re:Nothing to see here (0, Flamebait)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156332)

You're right. Because a cockpit with no TPS is so much more challenging than turbopumps that can drain the volume of swimming pools in minutes to seconds, pumping cryogenic and/or corrosive materials, into a combustion chamber operating hotter than the boiling point of steel, on the scale of a building dozens of stories high, built as light as physically possible despite accelerating this building-sized monster at several Gs with heavy vibration. :P

Re:Nothing to see here (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155620)

It might be boring and not state of the art now, but further development of private space flight should lead to some truly interesting technology and vehicles.

But, really, if private space travel is to become commonplace, what we want is boring and un-sexy technology -- not exciting and cutting edge.

What we need is the equivalent of a Buick station wagon with wood-grain trim. Boring as hell, but a reliable vehicle which focuses on doing the task instead of pushing the envelope. Once you have that, then this stuff can start to become routine based on available technology.

Cheers

Re:Nothing to see here (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155196)

Cutting edge technology is only one place to contribute to space flight. Production improvements can also aid space flight, and producing more of the material needed to do space flight may improve manufacturing techniques.

Then making 'space flight' available to more of the public helps create more awareness.

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155272)

Production improvements of low ISP vehicles contribute absolutely nothing to high ISP vehicles. Production improvements of vehicles with minimal to no TPS contribute nothing to the serious TPS challenges of actual orbital vehicles. Virtually nothing about SS1 applies to the serious challenges involved in spaceflight.

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22155562)

You just don't understand the point of this program because you are looking only at the shiniest edge of technology that is extreme overkill for this mission. I concede that you may be correct that this may not contribute much to high ISP rocketry, but again that is not the point. SS2 is not about pushing the bleeding edge, going orbital or to the moon or Mars. SS2 is about pushing the economic envelope of what is achievable without government funding.

Yeah, it would be nice to hitch a ride on a heavy lift vehicle, but almost nobody can afford that. We use those largely for satellites and other inatimate objects that we take for granted. A vew super-rich can hitch a ride on a Soyuz out of Kazakistan, but how does that really include most of humanity? Nobody seems to notice when a new satelite goes up, and only a few more people noticed when the ~3 private citizens so far have gone to space, providing unneeded ballast on largely government-funded science missions.

This program is about making personal, human space access an "affordable" reality for anyone to experience. High ISP and the like more than exponentially increases cost, risk, and turn-around time, making those engines much less economically feasable for this mission. Private programs cannot take the cost-be-damned approach that the Space Race fostered, as there is no tax-payer spigot to go to when the well runs dry. The economy of offering these low-cost sub-orbital flights as a prelude to orbital and beyond is much more sustainable than shooting for the moon.

Disclaimer - I am posting anonymously, as I currently am working on the Virgin Galactic space program.

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155744)

SS2 is about pushing the economic envelope of what is achievable without government funding.

Sorry, but SeaLaunch, Orbital Sciences, and SpaceX already beat you to it, and they're doing *relevant, orbital rocketry*.

Yeah, it would be nice to hitch a ride on a heavy lift vehicle, but almost nobody can afford that.

Because they actually go to orbit, meaning that they have to deal with the real challenges of getting to orbit.

High ISP and the like more than exponentially increases cost, risk, and turn-around time, making those engines much less economically feasable for this mission.

And they actually get you to orbit Your ISP is similar to OTRAG's, meaning you'd have to scale like OTRAG does. Which means a 100 tonne launch vehicle with 64 stages just go loft 1 tonne of payload. Tell me, are you planning to scale to a 100 tonne launch vehicle with 64 stages? Are you? And how do you plan to bulk stamp out these stages like OTRAG was p[lanning to in order to keep such a monster econmoical? And how do you plan to lift a 100 tonne vehicle? Going to scale up WK2 big enough to make a Mriya look tiny?

Please, join the real world here.

Re: apples to oranges (1)

colinnwn (677715) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156110)

"Sorry, but SeaLaunch, Orbital Sciences, and SpaceX already beat you to it, and they're doing *relevant, orbital rocketry*."

This is true for commercial payload operations. But Scaled Composites's goal is humans to suborbital and eventually LEO. This is a much more expensive and time consuming goal. I haven't heard anything about Scaled Composites interest in payloads. Of the 3 companies you mention, only SpaceX has expressed interest in human space flight, they only have the Dragon planned for this, and they have no forecast date of its first manned operation.

Scaled Composites is also planning on operating on an order of magnitude less revenue. The 3 companies you mention will see millions of dollars in revenue launching commercial payloads and will still be cheaper than using government launch services. Scaled Composites/Virgin is talking about providing individuals in the lower upper class flight experiences costing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Right now only the stratospheric upper class can afford a suborbital or LEO trip.

You are comparing apples to oranges.

Re: apples to oranges (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156382)

As though a cockpit is somehow the most challenging part, or even a relevantly challenging part, of rocketry.

A capsule carrying people is just a payload. The cost and challenge is in the launch vehicle.

(and let's not get into the term "man-rated", which nobody can seem to define outside of a few general concepts that most rockets can easily be designed to meet, such as limited Gs and not blowing up every other flight)

Re:Nothing to see here (1, Insightful)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156366)

relevant, orbital rocketry ...that can't land at an airport. Nor will passengers survive long in an unpressurized capsule with no life support. Getting there is only half the fun.

Remember the Mercury and Gemini programs? You know, the ones we used to help us learn what it would take to get men to the moon and back, safely? They're taking STEPS, and you're complaining because they aren't jumping right to a space shuttle clone.

SeaLaunch, Orbital Sciences, and SpaceX require extensive launch infrastructure. Tell one of them "There's a runway, let's see you launch in a week", and they couldn't do it.

Re:Nothing to see here (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156020)

Production improvements of low ISP vehicles contribute absolutely nothing to high ISP vehicles. Production improvements of vehicles with minimal to no TPS contribute nothing to the serious TPS challenges of actual orbital vehicles. Virtually nothing about SS1 applies to the serious challenges involved in spaceflight.
Here's my take. You are very wrong. Scaled Composites is carefully putting together that vehicle with the high ISP engine, the thermal protection system, and all those other challenges. It just hasn't starting designing it yet. There's a lot more to a vehicle than the vehicle itself. You need experienced designers, ground crew, and pilots. You need testing experience and infrastructure (note, for example, that SpaceShipTwo has its own flight simulator already). You need to gain experience in jumping the substantial bureaucratic hurdles for a manned space vehicle. You need to understand what the problems and challenges are before you design much less put the vehicle together. And you need to do all that without going bankrupt. What you are seeing is IMHO how a master would approach this problem. The key is incremental design. You don't make the orbital vehicle all at once with all those unknown pieces snapped together. You build up to it with progressively more sophisticated launch vehicles and extensive testing at each step. Unlike the other "alt.space" players like SpaceX, Blue Horizon, SpaceDev, etc, Scaled Composites probably turned a small profit with SpaceShipOne, its first space vehicle. And I bet it's turning a profit with SpaceShipTwo as well. If SpaceShipTwo doesn't get the hoped-for business, then Scaled Composites can walk away from it all. The thing that gets ignored is that Scaled Composites has economically one of the soundest projects in the space business.

Re:Nothing to see here (2, Insightful)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156186)

On a technical level you're right. But SS2 addresses a different problem. Once joyrides into space are sold, space tourism will be established as a market. Right now space tourism is a single-segment market: for several million dollars the Russians will sell you one of their spots on the space station. Aside from that, no one knows for sure how many people will pay how much money to go into space. If SpaceShipTwo is a commercial success, that decreases the risk and proves the potential return of investing in private space technology. That means more money to develop orbital technology and expand the market into yet a third segment, namely orbital tourism.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155210)

They also only flew the first one three times. I just don't see how that's enough to fully understand how the craft operates.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Feyr (449684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155270)

they flew the first one for the prize's purpose twice, but they flew the craft a lot more times than just three. there's (or was) a testing report publicly available for each flight they did, and it's a LOT more than 3. plus a lot of simulation runs. they probably understand their craft quite well by now

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155350)

Plus, the first craft was more of a proof-of-concept. If they're going to do extensive flight testing into suborbital space, it ought to be on the production model.

Re:Nothing to see here (-1, Redundant)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155322)

The design specs are enough. The ISP is tiny, the fuel/oxidizer combo will never scale without going OTRAG on it (which makes its carrier design as well as the entire construction method used impossible), and there's virtually no TPS. How, exactly, is this relevant to actual orbital spaceflight?

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

EasyTarget (43516) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155588)

Well, for a start, it's more relevant than you are...

WTF do all those acronyms stand for? Totally irrelavent to me.

Re:Nothing to see here (-1, Redundant)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155686)

ISP: Specific Impulse (properly, I followed by subscript SP). Defines how much thrust you get per unit of mass based on the exhaust velocity. Low ISP rockets simply don't scale up without...

OTRAG: OTRAG was a German rocket design concept which proposed a way to make low ISP rockets scale up to orbit: by making an utter monster, a skyscraper of a rocket with only a small payload. The idea was that if you have every part be as incredibly simple as possible, with hundreds of identical stages stamped out cheaper than you can make a car, even with low performance, you can still get to orbit. The project failed for a number of reasons, but the idea behind it is basically sound (although the many stage separations would have been incredibly risky). But building smooth composite structures or, really, anything SS1 did, just won't work with the sort of design needed to make an OTRAG system work. OTRAG is a Big Ugly Rocket(tm). And, naturally, having such a monster doesn't work with a carrier aircraft because you can't lift that much weight.

Perhaps before you argue that something you don't know much about is useful, perhaps you should familiarize yourself with even the most basic rocketry terms like ISP.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Tyberius (944471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156178)

But the SS1 and SS2 does not have to scale up, it only has to scale out. I do not need a 18 wheeler, I only need a four door sedan and sometimes a small van or station wagon.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

sab39 (10510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155656)

It's relevant because the more companies MAKING MONEY in the space industry - especially the "consumer level" space industry - the more investment there will be in those industries and the more the state of the art WILL be advanced.

I certainly cheer for SpaceX and other private companies doing what you insist on referring to as "real" space flight like it's the only kind that matters. They're doing amazing things. But their focus is - quite naturally - on bringing costs down in the market that exists today - satellite launch for large companies; astronauts for NASA. As long as that remains the focus of the entire space market, there will never be any prospect of people like you and I getting into space at all - orbital or not.

VG is doing something in an entirely different market - going after consumers, albeit very rich ones for now. If you're insanely rich right now, you can go Space Adventures for $20Mil and get into space. VG's very first flights will be at 1% of that price! There is at least the theoretical prospect that within my lifetime the prices might go down enough and I might be able to save enough that I could make that flight. They may not be advancing the technical state of the art, but they're sure as hell advancing the state of the art in availability.

Besides - knowing Branson's well-publicized personality - can you really imagine that VG will STOP at suborbital?

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155886)

As long as that remains the focus of the entire space market, there will never be any prospect of people like you and I getting into space at all - orbital or not.

"Not" is irrelevant. "Not orbital" means joyrides, sounding rockets, and nothing more. "Orbital" is where virtually everything relevant is. SpaceX is reducing costs to orbit. Scaled is doing nothing of the sort. Hence, Scaled is irrelevant.

the more investment there will be in those industries and the more the state of the art WILL be advanced.

Success in offering joyrides means *more investment in joyrides*. VCs will invest in orbital rocketry based on the success of *orbital rocketry*. Orbital rocketry != joyrides, and VCs aren't dumb enough to be tricked into thinking otherwise.

But let's just look at that "success in joyrides" aspect, shall we? Historically, rocketplanes offer a several percent chance of blowing up with every flight. Let's be nice to Scaled, ignore their repeated near-catastrophic problems in SS1, and assume that they get this down to only 1%. What sort of business model involves blowing up half a dozen people with a combined net worth ranging from the hundreds of millions to the billions of dollars, every hundred flights (on flights that they plan to launch frequently)? I don't care what waivers you make them sign, blowing up millionaires every so often is a stupid business model, and a great way to *harm* the reputation of private rocketry.

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22155742)

I can see you seem to have some advanced knowledge of rocket science. but could you reference your acronyms at least once in your posts for us less in the know people? especially the particular ones with a more common use. I'm pretty sure you're not speaking about Test Procedure Specifications for Internet Service Providers. As for you're general argument. The innovation is coming from the fact that they are reaching sub-orbit for somewhere around a 1/10 of the cost of the Mercury project. Also, take into consideration that being a govt. funded military war project that was the space program (ICBM's.... deny it), the technology and innovations generated by the program are either being simply lost in time or are locked from private enterprise behind "classified". therefore, we have to start from scratch again. if you have to build your space program without the benefit of prior innovation, you don't start by just building your fusion thruster.....

Re:Nothing to see here (0, Redundant)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156016)

ISP = Specific Impulse
TPS = Thermal Protection System.

Sorry; I figured people could look up any acronyms they don't know on their own. After all, they feel qualified enough to debate about rocketry; shouldn't they at least be bothered to learn the most basic terms and concepts?

The innovation is coming from the fact that they are reaching sub-orbit for somewhere around a 1/10 of the cost of the Mercury project

They're *not doing any relevant research*. Mercury was breaking new ground, and didn't have the benefit of modern materials to boot. This is repeating old ground. Mercury used Redstone rockets. The Redstone reached Mach 5.5, over twice as fast, which means over 4 times the kinetic energy per unit mass, which means dissipating that much on reentry. Getting to that velocity, however, is a lot harder than double or even four times the effort. In rocketry, as you try to scale up your velocity, you also have to scale up your fuel and oxidizer. However, that also means getting that fuel and oxidizer to velocity, which means more fuel and oxidizer, and so on. It's exponential growth and exponential difficulty.

the technology and innovations generated by the program are either being simply lost in time or are locked from private enterprise behind "classified"

The heck they are. Rockets designs far, far better than the Redstone are completely open and available to the public. Not to mention that most serious rocketry companies hire at least *one* engineer (preferably many) with a background in rocketry.

Re:Nothing to see here (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155232)

I should add that I'm only criticizing SS1/SS2. I have nothing against WK1 or WK2; they're quite nice carrier aircraft. But SS1 and SS2 are completely meaningless. If you want small companies doing meaningful rocketry, check out SpaceX [spacex.com] . Their Falcon 9, a rocket whose heavy version will carry as much payload as NASA's beleagured (and possibly dead in the water) Ares, including its own spacecraft that can dock with the ISS, will be launching this June [spaceref.com] . The typical launch cost of payloads in the west is $10k/kg. In Russia, China, and India, $7k/kg is the standard. Sometimes you can get discounts down toi as low as $4-5k/kg. The Falcon 9 is $2-3k/kg. And looking over its construction, design, stats, etc, these numbers definitely appear credible.

Cheer for the rocketry not matters, not the irrelevant joyrides.

Re:Nothing to see here (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22155324)

There is nothing irrelevant about brining space travel to the masses. You are free to ride in the cargo bay of one of those commercial rockets, I'd rather take a "joyride" in comfort and see things few humans have seen.

Re:Nothing to see here (0, Redundant)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155498)

Hey, if all you care about is joyrides that do absolutely nothing more than entertainment, power to you. As for me, I care about spaceflight that has more relevance than a sounding rocket. I.e., satellites, stations, bases, colonies, probes, telescopes, and so on. What's holding us back is the price of *orbital* launches, so pardon me if I'm a bit harsh on companies that pretend to be contributing to that when they're doing absolutely nothing.

Re:Nothing to see here (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22155646)

Clearly, they're establishing a space tourism business with the obvious intent and goal of showing enough demand for "merely" sub-orbital flights that investors such as Branson will be willing to pony up the greater amount of money required to overcome the additional challenges of orbital flights.

Rutan isn't a billionaire like Musk, he has to get the funding however he can, and has to follow a different path. Musk can afford to spend $200 or $300 million without a single successful flight and ever-increasing launch costs. Scaled can't, and has to rely on smaller steps in the hopes of convincing enough people with deep enough pockets that there is a big-enough market, at a low-enough technical risk, for the step to orbital flights.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156222)

So, in short, you're saying that we should be, instead of focusing on companies who are actually going to orbit, like SpaceX, instead focus on people who are trying to raise enough venture capital to start from scratch in trying to go to orbit.

Um, why?

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155452)

The commercialization of space at all is going to be beneficial in the long run. As much fun as it is to have all developments come from the government and funded exclusively by Congress, there's a lot to be said for companies who can earn money getting a lot of people to go to space. Eventually, we'll see better ideas about waste management and how to stay healthy in zero-g.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

FlatEric521 (1164027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155504)

I always felt that the interest of SS1/SS2 was not in the rocketry, thrust/lift capacity, or any other comparison with payload lifting spaceships, but its unique design for a manned vehicle. As far as I know, it is the only manned spacecraft without a complex or heavy reentry heat shield. Anyone interested in space knows how complex the Thermal Protection System is on the Space Shuttle, and all other vehicles seem have a heat shield on the underside of the capsule. The feathered reentry design was highly innovative and never seen before SS1.

Give the man credit, he did come up with something inventive and new, even if the uses are only for joyrides right now.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155586)

As far as I know, it is the only manned spacecraft without a complex or heavy reentry heat shield.

That's because it doesn't go fast enough to need one. It peaked out at Mach 2.5 (and this was in the upper atmosphere, meaning it was getting far less heating than a jet moving at this speed), not Mach 18 or so (and remember that energy is proportional to the velocity *squared*). This is not "state of the art". It's "state of the art fifty years ago". It's not contributing a damn thing.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155532)

Uh, Falcon 9 is more along the lines of the Delta IV, not the Ares. Wikipedia says Ares V will take 130,000 kg to LEO, versus the Falcon 9 Heavy's 27,500 (comparable to the 22,950 of the Delta IV Heavy).

As for meaningful rocketry and the beleaguered state of other systems, their two Falcon 1 launches thus far have failed to reach orbit.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155850)

He was comparing Ares I to Falcon 9, which are similar. As to falcon 1 not reaching orbit, well, both the DOD and NASA are saying that everything is fine on this, and believe that the next launch is good. Considering that falcon 1 actually just missed the altitude due to early cut-off, I would say that they really have a pretty good chance of success.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155576)

Cheer for the rocketry not matters, not the irrelevant joyrides.
Not to be rude, but you need to get a clue here. Joyrides mean more money in a growing space economy. SpaceShipTwo is a critical test of space tourism. Will it get enough business to cover development costs or help fund an orbital vehicle? Sure SpaceX's $2-3k/kg is very sexy especially since they're close to a demonstration launch, but SpaceShipTwo is state of the art in private manned space. Further, SpaceX has yet to successfully launch anything while Scaled Composites has three successful launches (with extremely fast turnaround times) to 60 km already. And putting together a good, cheap reusable means they have a great chance of capturing a share of that cargo to orbit.

Conversion error (1)

jmauro (32523) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156144)

60 miles or 100km, not 60 km. Don't cheat the SS1 out of it's success.

Re:Conversion error (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156270)

My apologies. I knew that, but forgot the conversion of miles to km. The current definition of space is after all at 100 km and they were looking to barely exceed this.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156166)

Not to be rude, but you need to get a clue here. Joyrides mean more money in a growing space economy. SpaceShipTwo is a critical test of space tourism.

Successful joyrides mean more money thrown at joyrides. Soyuz (and later Dragon) are a test of orbital space tourism.

but SpaceShipTwo is state of the art in private manned space

SpaceShipTwo is state of the art in rocketplanes that go ~850 m/s instead of the 7,800 m/s needed for orbital rocketry (and remember, it's an exponential challenge to get more velocity, not a linear one).

Further, SpaceX has yet to successfully launch anything

NASA considers SpaceX's last launch a success, as does SpaceX, and as do most observers. All of their systems were flight qualified, which was the purpose of the launch. The only problem they had was a slightly early cutoff in the engine due to sloshing, which is a pretty trivial problem to solve (all you need is a baffle in the tank). Q1 will see a Falcon 1 with a higher performance, regeneratively cooled Merlin launch its first payload, and the first Falcon 9 will be in June. In general, SpaceX's stats have been very encouraging to the rocketry world. Especially their impressive turnaround on aborted launches; that was amazingly fast.

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22155608)

Actually, it's not the rocketry going up but rather the craft coming down. We've had a handle on getting up for a long time, but getting everything back down in one piece in a reusable way is all new.

And let's not forget that there is nothing wrong with joy or joy rides. They are fun.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155924)

But spaceX is doing the same thing NASA, Russia, the EU have done. sit on a giant explosion and ride it up into space. SS2 and white knight are working on flying up there. with any luck SpaceShip 10 will be SSTO which makes it 10 times better than anyone else.

Of course SS10 will also be 30 years down the line. they will need the funding to get their first. So Suborbital flights, and then deliveries will help pay for it.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156168)

I agree with you, suborbital joyrides don't contribute to the art of space access, they are a dead end merely for profit. And I agree with you, I am excited about SpaceX, other private orbital ventures and their possibilities, however, I must refute this statement:

Their Falcon 9, a rocket whose heavy version will carry as much payload as NASA's beleagured (and possibly dead in the water) Ares, including its own spacecraft that can dock with the ISS, will be launching this June.

1. Yes, the Falcon 9 has more payload than Ares I. But you are comparing the small Ares I to the big Falcon 9. Not to mention both are still moving targets.
2. SpaceX has yet to successfully launch Falcon 1 to orbit, much less Falcon 9.
3. The Dragon (manned capsule, dockable to ISS) module is far from finished, and will not be launched for at least another year. (And, mind you, is being launched for a NASA **contract** [COTS], not in competition with NASA)
4. Ares I/V are anything but dead in the water. If it was, I'd probably already have lost my job right now, contractors are always the first to go :).

Again, don't get me wrong, I wish I was a self-made millionaire like Elon, Jeff Bezos, John Carmack, or David Masten. I'd be building orbital rocket hardware in a heartbeat (I build small scale rockets in my garage ... ). But there's no point in creating hype and saying things you know nothing about ... These companies are doing a good enough job on their own to stand out without it!

Re:Nothing to see here (2, Insightful)

iocat (572367) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155280)

It advances the state of the art not at all, but if it gets the kids interested in space flight, and icreases public support for NASA and other govt. funding, or even creates a market for that crazy inflatable space hotel [bigelowaerospace.com] , I am all for it. Plus Scaled Composites is a cool company.

Plus, why does something need to advance the state of the art to be cool or worth doing? Making something that's already proven to be possible cheaper and more accesible is a noble goal too (see also: the personal computer revolution).

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

keep_it_simple_stupi (562690) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155312)

Maybe so, but it's a joyride I'd love to take. Seriously, even if this is only a PR stunt (which I don't believe it is), I think it's a good thing. Space tourism will be a new industry at some point in time, and I for one can't wait to get my ticket.

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22155560)

(First off, sorry for the apostrophe slip, simply a typo on my part as the OP.)

That's not the engineering problem the design team was looking to solve, quite simply. But SS2/WK2 will be significant in the sense of a man-rated, commercially funded, supersonic/hypersonic, high altitude _production_ aircraft/suborbital spacecraft.

And the significant advance that Rutan claims primary credit for is the feathering mechanism, which allows for his spacecraft to essentially ignore the reentry problem. Quite the elegant solution to what was a rather intractable problem on previous designs in the performance space (X-15)

Jick, who can't seem to login today...

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22155650)

It might be helpful for some of us if you would explain a little more. I know next to nothing about spaceflight but I'm curious. Could you just give a little more explanation of what this company is actually doing vs. what other (NASA, ESA, ?) are doing? I mean, in a dumbed-down way, what problems need to be solved for cheap commercial spaceflight that this lower flight does not address?
Thanks!

Re:Nothing to see here (4, Insightful)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155674)

Say the 29' Mercedes was far more impressive technically than what Ford was putting out but how many straight 8 engines do you see used in cars today? The most cutting edge isn't always the most practical. Do we wait for warp technology for space flight or use chemical rockets to get the ball rolling? The Space Ship 2 is the Model T of space flight. That's not an insult it's a major compliment. The Model T was one of the most successful cars in history for good reason. This craft puts space flight not into the hands of the average person but potentially into the hands of large numbers of people. Henry Ford would give it a big thumbs up and we should all view it as the stepping stone it is.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156288)

The most cutting edge isn't always the most practical.

Get to orbit on a pogo stick, then.

Rocketry is subject to the constraints of physics, and the constraints of physics say that their system (low-ISP air launched) simply cannot scale. Which means starting from scratch. Not like they've addressed any of the most serious rocketry challenges to begin with (like, say, a TPS)

Manufactuering line (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155728)

Few of the space systems are based on a manufacturing line. Almost all are based on onses. The goal is to build a fleet of these, and then to change the line into building true space ships. In addition, it is about VERY low costs flights. Sending cargo is not that pricey (and will probably get cheaper as we look at some of the launch rails). But live cargo is VERY expensive. If that can be lowered, then the total price is cheap. Saying that this does nothing for Space exploration is like saying that Saturn V did nothing for space exploration. In the end, it had the same concept as the Titans and Deltas; just to put mass in space. It just put more up there.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155820)

Spaceship 2 is just the second step. they are working their way up to space which is far more than what you are doing.

The fact is that only a few countries have been able to afford the hundred million dollars a launch. Spaceship 2 is working on getting there for a hell of a lot less than that. sure it will take a while, but at least they are trying, unlike NASA, Russia, ESA, or Japan.

The Answer to regular space travel isn't shoving a stick of dynamite up your arse and lighting it, which is currently how we get to space. You can have a dumb projectile, or you can fly up gracefully. spaceship 2 is working out how to do the latter safely. Everyone else has given up due to budget concerns.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155848)

Oooh, yeay. Another joyride

It has been pointed out that the private industry side of this is the exciting part, which does have some value, but I think the "joyride" part actually has more. Sure this is just for the very rich, right now. Airplanes used to be only for the very rich as well. Virgin Galactic will make space accessible to the public. Right now space is only something cold and functional, for the military and billion dollar businesses. This makes space fun and exciting, not for the lucky Air Force pilot turned astronaut, but for everyone who will now get to go there. That, more than and return mission to the moon or man on Mars will make people put a higher priority on Space exploration and travel. Virgin Galactic isn't about function, but about fun. Like porn on the internet [msn.com] it will pave the way for Space travel to grow much faster that it would under government and industry alone.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

kylben (1008989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155868)

"Another joyride that contributes absolutely nothing to space exploration."

That's like saying that competing in the Nascar provides no beneficial experience whatsoever toward building minivans. It's a baby step, but this is about making space exploitation a business more than inventing cutting edge tech - that's what Rutan and the rest are doing. It's about creating a body of experience.

What this will provide experience in includes, but is not limited to:

logistics (equipment)
logistics (passengers)
safety procedures
safety equipment
materials
supply chain
financing
market research
regulatory issues
public relations
efficiency tradeoffs
passenger comfort tradeoffs
product development (product as in "joyride" or other activities)
production processes
port facilities
reliability
maintenance
business models

These are all things that the business world has enormous experience in in general, but little to no experience in applying them to space. They have to start somewhere.

Secondary effects that increase the viability of the industry as a whole include, but are not limited to:

public acceptance
institutional acceptance (banking, VC, regulatory, insurance)
financial viability of ports
financial viability of secondary port and logistics infrastructure
financial viability of vendors on the supply chain
R&D of materials, fuels, components, etc.
competitive incentives
capital accumulation

Cutting edge tech makes it possible for somebody to go to space. Turning that tech into viable businesses is what will make it possible for lots of people to go to space.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156238)

We have a winner. I get the impression that the original poster thinks that the vehicle is the hardest problem. Maybe it is. But you're going nowhere if you can't do the above. Mod parent up and all that.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155902)

I think what's important here is it's commercial spaceflight being done as a viable business. Sure, they're $200k joyrides that aren't even close to acheiving orbital speeds and the engineering challenges with getting to orbit are daunting and well beyond anything with SS1 & 2. A private manned orbital spacecraft will require fundamentally different design principles, but if there's a successful business behind suborbital, ponying up the R&D cash for an orbital craft will be much easier to justify. Branson and Rutan have said as much--if SS2 is successful, SS3 may very well be an orbiter. Meanwhile, there's several other companies addressing more issues--SpaceX's rockets, Bigelow's inflatable habitats, and Virgin/Scaled settling up the spaceport/tourist infrastructure.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156050)

Oooh, yeay. Another joyride that contributes absolutely nothing to space exploration.

If you disagree with this statement, go ahead -- explain why you feel that a vehicle with this low delta-V, horrible ISP, and proportionally high mass that faces bare minimal reentry heating -- advances the state of the art.
No, because the reason to disagree with your statement is that it implies that advancing the state of the art is absolutely everything to space exploration.

This will contribute to establishing a routine of space exploration. They're expecting weekly launches. Who else is capable of weekly launches?
When the R&D team has passed this project onto the exploit and maintain team, they can start working on weekly orbital launches. They can offer a 'round the world trip in a single day. Take THAT, Jules Verne!

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22156232)

A joy ride yes.. but's it's all about economics. To create revenue in such a market for future orbital and planetary exploration. In reality we are not using state of the art but known technology to create revenue toward funding state of the art. Virgin Galactic is currently charging 300,000 dollars per ticket now at the moment, 10,000+ have already vowed to take a flight at this price. That's 3 billion dollars to fund future space flight on.

A LOT to see here (4, Informative)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156306)

This is not about advancing the state of the art in rocket design, no one ever claimed that it was.
They are learning how to build an infrastructure that could take paying customers to orbit.

They are gaining experience carrying passengers and a spaceship up to the edge of space.
They are gaining experience dealing with novice 'astronauts' and what it takes to prepare them and what they should expect from them in a weightless environment.
They are gaining experience designing and building and flying carrier aircraft.
I would imagine that the next generation will use a different rocket design, go significantly faster, and start using heat shielding, with yet a bigger carrier aircraft.
Once they have that in place, the next generation can upgrade the 'spaceship' to something with serious rockets that have the capability of reaching orbital speeds.

Or should they have gone for orbit first and hope everything else works at the same time?

Pilot (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155162)

Good to see Brian Binnie in the simulator - if I could afford this, I'd want him piloting my flight.

I think I'll wait... (2, Funny)

CodeMunch (95290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155208)

for SpaceShipXP Service Pack 4.

Cool, but.. (0, Troll)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155216)

What's it for? Is it only to get rich tourists to a high altitude to see what shape the earth is?

Re:Cool, but.. (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155572)

Well yes. But that was the simular excuse back in the 1500's Trans contental travel was not cheap back then, nore was it mostly risk free. Much like Space Travel is today. Today the average middle class american person who saves some money can take a cruse around the world, if they liked, back a few hundred years ago that was only reserved for the super rich or a governemnt. Space Travel is starting to get to this point now... Except it needs to be far safer then the Trans Contental Sea Voyages were back then. Once the Super Rich get they jollies from the space ride in time the technology will become more common and afordable first to the Rich then down to the middle class, then most anyone could take a trip... I may take a few hundred years but overall it is worth it.

Re:Cool, but.. (1, Offtopic)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156116)

Sorry, I know nobody likes a grammar Nazi, but I've gotta do this, it's for your own good.

That's "similar", not "simular"
That's "1500s", not "1500's", and you get a bonus point if you say "the 16th century" instead, and a bonus cookie if you can write that in Roman numerals.
That's "transcontinental", not "Trans contental"
That's "nor", not "nore"
In English, country names, nationalities and languages start with an uppercase letter, so that's "American" not "american"
That"s "cruise", not "cruse"
That's "government", not "governemnt"
When you're comparing two things and that you hesitate between "then" and "than", it's "than", not "then"
"their jollies", not "they jollies"
That's "affordable", not "afordable"
That's "mostly anyone", not "most anyone"

Also, you don't need start every noun with an uppercase letter, only Germans do that. And to the rest of you who are about to suggest me that the parent poster may not be a native English speaker, look at his website, his name sounds awfully Anglo-Saxon and it says he studied in Connecticut (and no need to point out an eventual typo I may have made, I'm dysgraphic, I can't type a sentence right without proof-reading).

Oh, and I'm not a native English speaker, actually, I'm French. Ouch, I know, it hurts.

Re:Cool, but.. (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155872)

Is it only to get rich tourists to a high altitude to see what shape the earth is?

I can think of the odd oil baron who would be genuinely surprised to find it's round...
 
Come to think of it, perhaps a bit of perspective wouldn't hurt those on the rich list: I sometimes think that some people really need to be reminded that no matter how much money they have, they're still inconsequential bugs destined to be squashed on the windscreen of time.

Great! (1, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155264)

I wish these effort well. We need more celebrities and boy band members in space.

Re:Great! (2, Informative)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155704)

We need more celebrities and boy band members in space.
Agreed - better having them in space then on earth.

Re:Great! (1)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155730)

Yeah unfortunately none of these damn things crash when useless people are on them.

Re:Great! (2, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156060)

We need more celebrities and boy band members in space.

Not on this rocket: it's designed to come back.

Parallels and Perspective (4, Interesting)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155306)

For a bit of perspective I wanted to see what progress looked like back in the early days of aviation.

http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/top10/wright-flyer.jpg [aerospaceweb.org] Here is the wrights' "space ship one"

http://www.dkimages.com/discover/previews/786/506847.JPG [dkimages.com] Here is what the aircraft started looking like 4 years after the Wright's first flight.

It took 30 years for Jet technology to appear, I wonder if it will be a similar amount of time before we get private orbital cabability.

Re:Parallels and Perspective (4, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155626)

First off, almost all orbital launches are private. Most are completely private except for government funding in the development stage and government launch contracts; the launches are run for-profit by companies like Boeing and Lockheed. Even for ones run by NASA, like the shuttle, the craft itself was largely built by private companies. If you want to rule out "large" private companies, there's SeaLaunch, Orbital Sciences, etc, who've developed and run for-profit their own rockets. And if you want rockets developed largely from scratch, look no further than SpaceX and their Falcon rocket (with soon upcoming Dragon spacecraft).

Why cheer for irrelevance? Cheer for what actually matters.

By the way -- I'm not sure the analogy with early aircraft is the one you're going for. Just ignoring how little capital it took to build an airplane versus what it takes to make an orbital spacecraft, you should realize that early airplanes suffered major crashes at very regular intervals. The pilots typically survived because the performance of said aircraft was so low. The first cross-country flight took weeks and involved dozens of crashes. For the first around-the-world race, the US strategically placed replacement parts and even entire replacement airplanes for its pilots to use.

Even if that was an analogy you wanted to use, you should be comparing early aircraft with early rockets (V2, Redstone, etc), not with SS1 and their "repeat what's done decades ago in a way that we know damn well won't scale to anything". SS1 isn't developing new technology or pushing the envelope; they're making craft that don't advance anything except people's ability to have a joyride.

Re:Parallels and Perspective (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155766)

I'm not sure what your second picture is of, but it doesn't look like a Wright flyer to me... here's a pic of the Flyer III about 2-3 years after first flight: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/5/54/Wright_Flyer_III_above.jpg/225px-Wright_Flyer_III_above.jpg [wikimedia.org] . The Flyer III was the first one that had reasonable enough handling that it was really "usable" by a mere mortal, and the design didn't change that much for 5 years after that.

It was Curtiss that took the Wrights' ideas and extended them into more simple-to-manufacture designs (such as aerolons instead of warping wings), and that's when you'll start seeing planes that look a lot like a modern plane.

Re:Parallels and Perspective (1)

nasor (690345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156106)

Any comparison of space flight to aircraft flight development is just depressing. It took about 30 years to go from the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk to the DC-3, a commercially-useful passenger aircraft that any reasonable person would feel safe flying in. In rocketry, on the other hand, it's been 50 years and it still costs thousands of dollars to put a kilo in orbit - and you still have something like a 1 in 50 chance of dying in the attempt.

But of course, there was a readily-apparent market for aircraft (people want to get places) and continuous pressure from competition to improve (people can always take a train/blimp/car/ship). Not so with space travel.

Re:Parallels and Perspective (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156212)

Watch these guys:

Armadillo Aerospace [armadilloaerospace.com]
Masten Space Systems [masten-space.com]

Both are working on smaller vehicles right now, but both have their eyes on orbital space.

First thing that comes to mind re. WhiteKnight II (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155400)

"Snap!"

Design Changes (1)

j-stroy (640921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155476)

It looks to me like the hinged portion of the wing tips is different than before. I'm sure they've done their job, but given the corkscrew trick the last one did, I'd think a lot of stress could be on that area.. It looks not so robust there to me. IANARS

More pics here (3, Informative)

TappedOut (1185315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155496)

More pix: http://www.virgingalactic.com/pressftp/ [virgingalactic.com]

Getting Slashdotted to hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22156022)

VirginGalactic's website is getting the crap beat out of it right now. Not quite smoking yet, but just about there.

Congratulations everybody. I bet Branson's webmasters are laughing their asses off right now.

May the ships be built better than the server was (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155508)

, cause that sucker is going down in flames....

I'm bloody well not risking my life... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22155754)

on any contraption that was inspired by something on Stargate SG-1 (see Redemption Part 2). Next Richard Branson will be installing booster rockets underneath London to make it into a flying city like Atlantis.

Rich being wastefull (-1, Flamebait)

GHynson (1216406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155758)

Just more ultra rich people waving thier dicks around.

Have to say (5, Insightful)

MacarooMac (1222684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22155780)

I'm surprised at the amount of scepticism over this project, esp on /. Let's face it, commercial designs such as SS2 are the only way any of us down here will be getting 'up there' in our lifetime.

FYI, from el Wiki: "More than 65,000 would-be space tourists have applied for the first batch of 100 tickets to be available. The price will initially be US$200,000. However, after the first 100 tickets are sold the price would be dropped to around $100,000. Then deposits after the first year will drop to around $20,000. The duration of the flight will be approximately 2.5 hours, and weekly launches are planned.

In December 2007 Virgin Galactic had 200 paid-up applicants on its books for the early flights, and 95% were passing the necessary 6-8 g centrifuge tests"

Not really (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156114)

Probably half or more of the posters here are from America. If you check a number of polls, many Americans believe that NASA has been a waste. Sadly, they also believe that Science is a waste. It comes down to the more that politicians declare that science projects like Genetic Engineering, Stem Cell research, Global Warming Research, etc is bad for the world (and America), then by extension, then RD efforts like NIH, CDC, and even NASA must be worthless. Out politicians are killing us. It is no wonder that we see our RD labs torn down.

Why not just get it over with (2, Funny)

kannibul (534777) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156126)

and build Spaceball 1?

Article (2, Informative)

llZENll (545605) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156132)

For those who can't connect...

PICTURES: Virgin Galactic unveils Dyna-Soar style SpaceShipTwo design and twin-fuselage White Knight II configuration
By Rob Coppinger
Virgin Galactic has unveiled a SpaceShipTwo (SS2) design, created by Scaled Composites, that harks back to the NASA/USAF Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar glider of the 1960s, while Scaled's carrier aircraft, White Knight II (WK2) has been given a twin-fuselage configuration.

To be launched on a Lockheed Martin Titan III rocket, Dyna-Soar was for hypersonic flight research but the programme was cancelled before the first vehicle was completed. Some of its subsystems were used in later X-15 flight research and Dyna-Soar became a testbed for advanced technologies that contributed to projects, including the Space Shuttle.

  Above: SpaceShipTwo is carried between the two fuselages of White Knight II

Virgin Galactic's commercial operations will now start from New Mexico's Spaceport America in 2010 and not from Mojave air and space port in California, as originally planned, but the WK2, SS2 launch system will be test flown by Scaled at the Californian port.

At its 23 January press conference at the American Museum of Natural History in New York city Virgin Galactic described SS2 as using the same basic technology, construction and design as its predecessor SpaceShipOne (SS1), as 100% composite and twice as large as the $10 million X-Prize winning vehicle, SS1.

  Above: SpaceShipTwo transitions into feathering mode for its reentry

The SS2 is 18.3m (60ft) long, has a wingspan of 12.8m, a tail height of 4.5m with a passenger cabin that is 3.66m long and 2.28m in diameter. Despite being so much larger than SS1, SS2 will still use a front nose skid, and not nose gear. Released at 50,000ft (15,200m) by WK2, the rocket glider's apogee is expected to be up to 110km (68 miles).

  Above: SpaceShipTwo is under construction at Scaled Composites

The carrier aircraft, WK2, is now 23.7m-long, it still has a wingspan of 42.7m, with a tail height of 7.62m and its integration is now 80% complete - with the assembly of the wing underway in preparation for its mating with the twin fuselages.

The WK2 will have four Pratt and Whitney PW308 engines, as revealed by Flight in September last year. And as Flight has also reported WK2's crew and passenger cabin will be the same; for training purposes.

  Above: White Knight II under construction with its twin fuselages being fitted with their tail fins at Scaled Composites

Virgin Galactic also announced that the SS2 simulator is now operational, ahead of the previous March 2008 date that had been given. It is already being used for pilot training.

  Above: Brian Binnie, Scaled Composites pilot, sits in the SpaceShipTwo simulator

Nose Skid (1)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156204)

Despite being so much larger than SS1, SS2 will still use a front nose skid, and not nose gear.
Can someone please explain what a "Front nose skid" is and how it might differ from "nose gear"?

Can they ever recover? (0)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22156438)

Can Scaled Composites ever achieve this now that they've lost lives & been cited for neglecting safety? If they don't train their fabricators, do they train their pilots? It's been 4 years since their last flight. Their website hasn't been updated in 2 years. They better be releasing computer renderings, because that's as close as they're going to get.

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>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...