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Space Science Technology

SpaceShipOne Back in Action 200

Posted by michael
from the extra-duct-tape-on-board dept.
JoeSilva writes "After a 3 month wait, Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne is back in the skies above Mojave! Not only is it patched up from a failed landing gear, it's got a 'thermal protection system' installed. Looks like high temp insulation on the leading edges. Also they have a picture of it with 'the rocket motor for the flight 13p'. This was the 12th SpaceShipOne flight."
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SpaceShipOne Back in Action

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  • Already slashdotted (Score:-1, Informative)

    by menuconfig (759076) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @02:51PM (#8580709)
    For the good of the community :)

    Combined White Knight / SpaceShipOne Flight Tests
    [back to top]

    Combined Flight Test Legend:

    C = Captive Carry
    L = Launch
    G = Glide
    P = Powered

    The first letter represents the intended mission for the flight and the second letter, if present, represents the actual mission flown. For example, first glide will for the space ship will be 03G. If the flight aborts or doesn't release for whatever reason, the nomenclature becomes 03GC.

    Flight 49L / 12G
    Date: 11 MAR 04 Flight Time: 1.3 hours / 18 mins 30 secs
    White Knight Pilot: Binnie White Knight Copilot: Stinemetze
    White Knight Flt Engineer:
    SpaceShipOne Pilot: Siebold
    High Chase-Starship Pilot: Karkow
    Low Chase-Extra Pilot: Melvill / Coleman

    Objectives:
    The twelfth flight of SpaceShipOne. Objectives included: pilot proficiency, reaction control system functionality check and stability and control and performance of the vehicle with the airframe thermal protection system installed. This was an unpowered glide test.
    Results:
    Slashdot's editors are facists.
    Launch conditions were 48,500 feet and 125 knots. All systems performed as expected and the vehicle landed successfully while demonstrating the maximum cross wind landing capability.

    Flight 43L / 11P
    Date: 17 Dec 03 Flight Time: 1.2 hours / 18 mins 10 secs
    White Knight Pilot: Siebold White Knight Copilot: Bird
    White Knight Flt Engineer:
    SpaceShipOne Pilot: Binnie
    High Chase-Starship Pilot: Karkow
    Low Chase-Extra Pilot: Melvill / Coleman

    Objectives:
    The eighth flight of SpaceShipOne and first powered flight. 15 second burn of the rocket motor and supersonic flight. Motor light off at altitude and inflight engine performance. Vehicle handling qualities through transonics and feather performance from altitude.
    Results:
    Launch conditions were 47,900 feet and 112 knots. Motor light off was achieved at 44,400 feet and 0.55M. Burnout occurred at 1.2M and apogee was 67,800 feet. There was no noted flight control flutter or buzz during the climb. Feather recovery exhibited a +/-30 roll initially and then settled down into the familiar falling bathtub mode. The wing was de-feathered and locked by 35,000 feet. A nominal landing pattern was flown but touchdown caused the left main gear to collapse and the vehicle rolled to a stop off the runway in the soft sand. Although the damage was not major, repairs are expected to take approximately three weeks to complete.

    Flight 42L / 10g
    Date: 4 Dec 03 Flight Time: 1.3 hours / 13 mins 14 secs
    White Knight Pilot: Siebold White Knight Copilot: Stinemetz
    White Knight Flt Engineer:
    SpaceShipOne Pilot: Binnie
    High Chase-Starship Pilot: Karkow
    Low Chase-Extra Pilot: Melvill / Coleman

    Objectives:
    The seventh glide flight of SpaceShipOne and new pilot check out. Full functional check of the propulsion system by cold flowing nitrous oxide. Completed airspeed and positive and negative G-envelope expansion.
    Results:
    Launch conditions were 48,400 feet and 115 knots. All propulsion components, displays and functionality performed as designed. The feather was extended after a 4G pull-up to the vertical at 24,500 feet and rudder used to induce sideslip and yaw rates while "going-over-the-top". The vehicle recovered to a stable attitude and descent after only a single oscillation. The landing pattern was flown following established procedures resulting in a satisfactory touchdown.

    Flight 41L/09G
    Date: 19-Nov-03 Flight Time: 2.1 hours / 12 mins 25 secs
    White Knight Pilot: Binnie White Knight Copilot: Bird
    White Knight Flt Engineer:
    SpaceShipOne Pilot: Melvill
    High Chase-Starship Pilot: Siebold
    Low Chase-Duchess Pilot: Coleman / Stinemetze

    Objectives:
    The sixth glide flight of SpaceShipOne.
  • by ferralis (736358) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @02:58PM (#8580785) Homepage Journal
    the "P" stands for Powered... looks like they're tipping their hand and the next flight will be with boost!

    WOOHOO!!!

    Check out the test updates here. [scaled.com]

    AFAIK, these guys are the closest to winning the X-Prize- go team!!!

  • Photos (Score:5, Informative)

    by bobthemuse (574400) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @02:58PM (#8580786)
    A great set of photos (hopefully soon to be mirrored) is available here [scaled.com].
  • by kclittle (625128) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @02:59PM (#8580802)
    The X Prize is NOT ABOUT LEO! It's about reaching 100KM, with at least 1 person, in a vehicle capable of carring 3, twice in 2 weeks.
  • by el_salvador (681607) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:01PM (#8580823) Journal
    now with link and without the added space [tudelft.nl]
    i know, i suck at slashdot
  • Re:Lucky 13? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jwriney (16598) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:03PM (#8580838) Homepage
    Any team wanting to make an attempt must notify the X-Prize officials at least a month in advance with the launch date and location. I would assume that this information would be released with some fanfare. Since no notification has been made yet, no official flight.

    That's not to say they couldn't go to space unofficially, before going for the big money; in fact they probably will, as part of their test series.

    --riney
  • by Gogo Dodo (129808) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:09PM (#8580901)
    the "P" stands for Powered... looks like they're tipping their hand and the next flight will be with boost!

    There's no hand to tip because they already did that. SpaceShipOne had flown it's first powered flight back in December [slashdot.org].

  • Stop modding this up (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:10PM (#8580915)
    If you'd read anything about the X-prize, or even the other posts in this thread, you'd know that the ships are aiming for a sub-orbital flight (for those of you who went to public school, that means they're not coming back from orbit at the end of the flight, either), and therefore no space shuttle-style thermal tiles are required.
  • Remember (nobody ever seems to) that getting into space is not nearly has hard as getting into orbit. We're used to descriptions of the amazing technology that is used to protect astronauts and such on re-entry -- but that amazing technology is only needed because of the enormous speeds that orbital vehicles have to attain.

    The kinetic energy required to accelerate a gallon of gasoline to orbital speed is more than the chemical energy contained in the gasoline.

    By contrast, "merely" lifting something up 100km doesn't require much energy at all.

    So, er, no, leading-edge heat shields ought to be just fine. Fiberglass or carbon-fiber composites might even survive a flight or two without any shielding at all.

  • Re:heat shielding (Score:3, Informative)

    by CreatureComfort (741652) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:14PM (#8580954)

    The Space Shuttle comes in a lot faster and through far more atmosphere (Think angle of attack, not just vertical height). These guys are just barely getting out into "space", and aren't anywhere near the altitude or velocity required to get to even low earth orbit, so they don't need much heat shielding at all.

    Of course LEO isn't a requirement for the X-prize.

    Why yes, I am a rocket scientist.
  • Re:Global Flyer (Score:5, Informative)

    by CXI (46706) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:16PM (#8580982) Homepage
    Dick Rutan did a similar flight with two pilots back in 1986 with Voyager. [dickrutan.com]

    Talk about similar designs... Burt Rutan designed Voyager. :)
  • Re:missing flights? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jnik (1733) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:22PM (#8581033)
    11P 17 Dec 03 first powered
    10G 4 Dec 03
    09G 19-Nov-03
    08G 14-Nov-03

    Maybe they've updated the page since you looked, but they're all clearly there right now.
  • Re:heat shielding (Score:3, Informative)

    by pavon (30274) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:23PM (#8581040)
    Anyways, even at 100km I would think that re-entry like conditions would be encountered and you'd need the high angle of attack.

    If you read thier site (after the slashdotting subsides) you will see that the wings fold up 90 degrees during reentry which gives them a very large amount of drag, while maintaining a stable angle of decent.
  • Re:Lucky 13? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ericspinder (146776) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:25PM (#8581053) Journal
    Most likely they'll hit space with a lone pilot a couple of times first. Ever flight so far only has 2 in the WK and 1 in the SSO. To win the X-Prize they would need 3 people in the SSO. So far they have been playing it safe by only having just as many people as needed(as they should), I don't see any reason they'll change the play. All the test runs they are making is showing the strength of their system, if this were NASA the runs would be 6 months apart. Besides, it's not like there is any other group so close to winning the prize. Maybe some other team might just pop outta nowhere and grab that brass ring, but they would have to be awefully sneaky to do that.
  • by Zathrus (232140) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:26PM (#8581062) Homepage
    For the good of the community :)
    [...]
    Results:
    Slashdot's editors are facists.
    Launch conditions were 48,500 feet and 125 knots. All systems performed as expected and the vehicle landed successfully while demonstrating the maximum cross wind landing capability.


    If it's for the good of the community, then don't put in your personal opinion in the middle of the post.

    There may have been more random crap in there, this was the first one I saw. Feel free to remod the karma whore appropriately.
  • Re:heat shielding (Score:3, Informative)

    by PD (9577) * <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:27PM (#8581067) Homepage Journal
    You'd need a lot of heat shielding if you were reentering from orbit, but that's not what this rocket ship is designed to do. It's a suborbital ballistic flight profile, straight up to 60 miles, then freefall back down. Orbital profiles have to go up 200 miles, PLUS they need to have 17,000 MPH of speed to maintain the orbit. The forward momentum of an orbital spacecraft is more energy than the potential energy in 200 miles of altitude.

    Spaceship One will only generate temperatures of about 1000 degrees, and since they don't need to use an angle of attack of 40 degrees like the shuttle, they only need to protect the leading edge. The max speed is only about mach 3.5, and the decelleration is 70 seconds. The shuttle on the other hand decellerates from orbital velocity for 20 minutes.

  • by Rorschach1 (174480) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:31PM (#8581102) Homepage
    Where do you get that information from? I'm not a physical chemist, but the rocketry books I've read say that chemical fuels aren't going to get much past 450 to 500 seconds Isp. The SSMEs get about 450, I think. Isp (specific impulse) is directly proportional to exhaust temperature, which is always going to be an issue in practical rocket design.

    The 1970's NERVA nuclear rocket program managed to get about twice the Isp of our best chemical rockets with a decent amount of thrust. Ion drives might give you an order of magnitude improvement over chemical rockets, but they don't have the thrust to be used in launch vehicles.

    The only propulsion system I've seen proposed that could realistically produce 2 to 3 orders of magnitude increase in efficiency is the Orion drive. The government doesn't like the idea of building hundreds of small, clean nukes, though. Greenpeace gets a bit riled up about it, too.

    Of course, if I had my way, they'd be welcome to protest right at the launch site.
  • Re:Lucky 13? (Score:3, Informative)

    by NeoThermic (732100) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:44PM (#8581250) Homepage Journal
    We also musn't forget the conditons of winning, that the three people who go up in the first flight must do it again in three weeks from the sucessfull landing.

    With the results and proof that nothing has knocked SSO out of the contest, I do think that is perfectly possible for them to do this.

    NeoThermic
  • by ThosLives (686517) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:48PM (#8581298) Journal
    I can't resist:

    The energy content of gasoline is about 42e6 J/kg.

    Orbital velocity (at the surface of the earth) is about 8000 m/s. Kinetic energy of 1 kg at 8000 m/s is 32e6 J. (That is, you need about 32 MJ/kg)

    However for those who want the whole story, the parent to this is correct: to get all that energy out of the kg of gasoline, you *also* need about 2.8 kg oxygen. Gasoline-oxygen gets you about 11 MJ/kg, which is about a third of what you need to hit orbital velocity.

    To get to 100 km altitude, you need only 0.96 MJ/kg, which is no problem for gasoline-oxygen.

  • by captainClassLoader (240591) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:50PM (#8581319) Journal
    Yeah, no kidding. Bert Rutan has not one, but 3 aircraft designs displayed at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. These are the around-the-world Voyager, [si.edu], and the experimental homebuilts VariEze, [si.edu] and Quickie. [si.edu]

  • by RedWizzard (192002) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @03:52PM (#8581339)
    They're both private individuals spending their (ample) money to compete for the X-prize.
    Please note that neither of these teams got into this for the X-prize. Carmack wanted to put someone in space for the hell of it, and Rutan is trying to develop a commercial space tourism platform. For Carmack the advent of the X-prize meant aiming for an X-prize sized vehicle earlier than otherwise. In Rutan's case the X-prize will nowhere near cover the cost of development (which I've heard is around $30M, IIRC), but will certainly reduce it.
  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @04:22PM (#8581625) Journal
    To win the X-Prize they would need 3 people in the SSO.

    The ship only has to have accomodations for three people. The rules allow for substituting ballast for the passenger's weight and letting the single pilot go up alone. The relevant rule [xprize.com] is

    3. The flight vehicle must be flown twice within a 14-day period. Each flight must carry at least one person, to minimum altitude of 100 km (62 miles). The flight vehicle must be built with the capacity (weight and volume) to carry a minimum of 3 adults of height 188 cm (6 feet 2 inches) and weight 90 kg (198 pounds) each. Three people of this size or larger must be able to enter, occupy, and be fastened into the flight vehicle on Earth's surface prior to take-off, and equivalent ballast must be carried in-flight if the number of persons on-board during flight is less than 3 persons.
  • by Ephboy (761440) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @04:25PM (#8581688)
    According to their flight log: Motor light off was achieved at 44,400 feet and 0.55M. Burnout occurred at 1.2M and apogee was 67,800 feet. The max specs for a 747 are ~45,000 ft. Yes, they've got a bit more to go, but the 67,800 ft was on their first test of the engine. I'm sure they could have let it go longer and easily gotten higher.
  • Re:Photos (Score:3, Informative)

    by scum-o (3946) <bigwebb@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @05:32PM (#8582520) Homepage Journal
    Mirror here [badcheese.com] - let's see if my new DSL can keep up with a good slashdotting.
  • by PudriK (653971) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @06:47PM (#8583389)
    You forgot to include the potential energy required to get from earth's surface to orbit.

    For LEO (200 km), circular orbit velocity is 7789 m/s. KE is 30.3 MJ. PE for 200 km altitude (from earth's surface to orbit) is 60.7 MJ. If you launch at the equator, prograde, then you gain 464 m/s, for an intial KE of 0.1 MJ.

    So total energy required to transport 1 kg to 200 km LEO from stationary at earth's equator, is 90.9 MJ.

    Of course, if you're burning the fuel along the way the energy requirement drops as mass decreases, and you also have to add in oxidizer mass, but I don't know the equations for that.
  • Re:Global Flyer (Score:3, Informative)

    by Phurd Phlegm (241627) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @09:59PM (#8585018)
    Voyager is at the National Air and Space Museum--hanging from the ceiling. It is a pretty spectacular sight. Here's a link [si.edu] to their article about it, and another to the museum [si.edu]. It's one of the only places I'd ever bother going in Washington D.C....
  • Re:Minimal info (Score:2, Informative)

    by Skyfire (43587) on Tuesday March 16, 2004 @10:32PM (#8585255) Homepage
    Actually, Scaled Composites did reveal that it is Paul Allen that is funding it.
    http://scaled.com/projects/tierone/New_Index/news/ Paul%20G%20%20Allen%20and%20SpaceShipOne.pdf [scaled.com]

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