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Private Company First to Take on Lunar X Challenge

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  • by eniac42 (1144799)
    Thats no Odyssey Moon, its a Tycho Magnetic Anomaly!
  • by rvw (755107)
    Wikipedia: Google Lunar X Prize [wikipedia.org]

    The Google Lunar X PRIZE, sometimes referred to as simply Moon 2.0
    I would like to register too with my new company: Capricorn 2.0!
  • Dilbert (Score:4, Funny)

    by eulernet (1132389) on Friday December 07, 2007 @07:57AM (#21610627)
    Currently, Dilbert contains material related comics.
    For example:
    http://www.comics.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert2007152781206.gif [comics.com]

    Coincidence ?
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Currently, Dilbert contains material related comics.

      I have long since stopped marveling at how apropos Dilbert can be at times.

      Scott Adams has been able to consistently put out stuff for a long time that at any given time, a whole lot of geeks read and say "how the heck did he know that?".

      It's eerie sometimes. Really, who among us hasn't come into work in the morning, fired up our daily Dilbert fix, and see our lives right in front of us?? At least three times in as many months, the latest daily describes

  • Productivity... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Slashidiot (1179447) on Friday December 07, 2007 @08:05AM (#21610685) Journal
    I'm eagerly waiting for this to develope. It's all stuff that has been done by a government agency, but a private company is certainly bound to be more efficient and productive, lowering the costs of lunar travel. This is serious fuel for a new space war, when prices go down, and it ends up becoming something normal for the people. Let the free market do its thing.

    It is following the exact path of civil aviation. I have high hopes of it developing in the same way.

    Sorry, a bit of daydreaming is good for me... let the SciFi lover in me have a bit of fun.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      Firstly I doubt they could get the costs down that much.. Space flight is very complex and dangerous. Secondly the costs of entry to the market mean that it's likely to be a natural monopoly anyway, so competition won't exist in any meaningful sense (I also doubt there's any profit in it in the medium term so most companies wouldn't bother even if they could afford it - the 20 million prize wouldn't pay for a tenth of the development costs).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mutant321 (1112151)
        Some people thought there'd be a world market for about 5 computers, for similar reasons. Wasn't even that long ago either.
      • Civil aviation was something complex and dangerous too! At the beggining, aircraft had "militar" genes, reusing bombers wings etc. Maybe it can evolve, although I cant see actually great economical use of such technology... space tourism? Its usually something that comes after commercial exploration! Get ships-> War, commerce, fun Get planes-> War, commerce, fun Get steam engines -> War, commerce, fun etc I cant see where commerce appears in space exploration.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by flappinbooger (574405)

        Space flight is very complex and dangerous.

        So, how did it happen the way it did the first time? (moon 1.0)

        With computing power on par with an 86 Chevy Citation and slide rules, how did we send living breathing men to the moon, and bring them back, without a hitch?

        I'm not saying we didn't, just that either it wasn't that hard, or there is more to the story as to how hard it really was, or some reason why it's "so hard" now. It's been almost 40 years, I'm just asking why it hasn't been done since. Is

        • With computing power on par with an 86 Chevy Citation and slide rules, how did we send living breathing men to the moon, and bring them back, without a hitch?

          Apollo 1 [wikipedia.org] was a pretty damn big hitch.

          Even if we just look at the Apollo 11 mission itself, there were hitches. For one thing, the landing went "long" and that "computing power" was taking them toward a rock-strewn crater. If Armstrong hadn't taken manual control for the landing, things might've gotten really hitched.

    • Re:Productivity... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Loke the Dog (1054294) on Friday December 07, 2007 @08:48AM (#21610877)
      No, its not following the path of aviation. See, aviation competed with trains and boats, and eventually won. The space industry isn't competing with any other industry. While there are many reasons to go from London to New York, there are few reasons to go from some pacific island to the moon, other than research or publicity.

      Now, as long as there are no reasons to go into space, the Free Market is getting nowhere here. All these projects you see are funded on charity. People with too much money pay to do something mostly to keep the industry alive.

      Space exploration is actually following the path of polar exploration. Many people got both private and government funding to go to the poles, and some of the succeeded. But very few things except for science came of it, and that was the government funded kind of science.

      Sure, some fishermen had semi permanent settlements on the the south pole, but they have mostly been replaced by scientists now. It's possible we'll see mining or oil drilling on the poles, but this hasn't happened yet, partly for legal reasons but also actually for practical reasons. There is some tourism too, but its pretty insignificant, and it will be the same for space. Once the hype fades, interest will drop. After all, a private island in the pacific is nicer than orbit around space.

      Don't get me wrong, I think this is exciting too, but don't get too optimistic. Comparing it to aviation doesn't make sense at all. There is no brave new world here, just barren wastelands. Obviously, one day it will become profitable to bring platinum and other really expensive metals back to earth, and at that point the free market will take over, but I'd say that's atleast 100 years away. Deep sea mining will happen long before that, for example.
      • by gogodidi (885953)
        What about the space elevator? Teleportation? Yeah, those arent really there yet, and much less developed than the spacecraft, but airplanes were pretty unrealistic from a locomotive conductors point of view also. There will be competition for getting into space. Just because they arent around yet doesnt mean there wont be.
      • Re:Productivity... (Score:5, Informative)

        by ultranova (717540) on Friday December 07, 2007 @01:27PM (#21614413)

        While there are many reasons to go from London to New York, there are few reasons to go from some pacific island to the moon, other than research or publicity.

        Actually, the fastest way from London to New York (or any other point on Earth) is a ballistic arc. And the ballistic arcs for any significant distances - meaning you'd consider using an airplane - go through space.

        A ballistic arc from London to New York isn't far from LEO as far as speed and altitude goes. From New York to Tokyo would be even closer. And the hard, dangerous and expensive parts of space travel are precisely entering orbit and entering atmosphere.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LWATCDR (28044)
          True but I don't think most people would really enjoy a ballistic arc.
          Now for next day or same day ship cargo this could be useful.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Teancum (67324)

            True but I don't think most people would really enjoy a ballistic arc.
            Now for next day or same day ship cargo this could be useful.

            If it meant that I could travel from Chicago to Beijing in under 3 hours? Or London to Syndey in less than 5 hours?

            You had better believe that there would be demand for genuine ballistic arcs around the world. Indeed there is demand for sub-orbital flights right now.... if the equipment technology (read safety concerns) and the costs dropped to something a little cheaper than

            • by LWATCDR (28044)
              I would go also but most people I just don't think would want a 3 hour roller coaster ride.
              • by Teancum (67324)
                Define "most people"?

                When was the last time you flew in a commercial airliner during bad weather?

                I remember one particularly nasty flight that went through what I swear was a hurricane that was essentially a 3 hour ride in a roller coaster. And that was a regularly scheduled commercial flight with over 300 passengers on board. I'm sure the pilots of that plane weren't exactly having an easy time on the flight either, but the point is that even existing transportation systems experience some interesting ac
              • by ultranova (717540)

                I would go also but most people I just don't think would want a 3 hour roller coaster ride.

                Roller coaster ? Being in a ballistic arc means you're in freefall most of the trip. Being in freefall means it is impossible to tell the whole thing is moving without looking outside. You aren't subject to any forces - not even Earth's gravity - during the ballistic part of the trip, so you'll simply float, weightless like a feather.

            • The reason the Concorde isn't flying any more had more to do with safety concerns and the age of the airplanes that were in service, rather than a lack of demand for something which could go that fast.

              The only reason Concorde could afford to fly was the two goverments involved wrote off the development costs and presented them to the respective airlines for free. (And, not incidentally, save face for the respective goverments and enlarge the size of the virtual national penises.)

              The market

              • by khallow (566160)

                The only reason Concorde could afford to fly was the two goverments involved wrote off the development costs and presented them to the respective airlines for free. (And, not incidentally, save face for the respective goverments and enlarge the size of the virtual national penises.)

                Well, it can't have been too large an expense, if the planes flew until there was an accident. As I see it, if it were a real burden, they would have found some way to kill it much earlier while saving face.

                Sure, the market is there for supersonic flight. We can also build a machine that can make it happen. (So long as you constrain it to essentially transatlantic ranges.) What can't do is build said machine at a price the (fairly small) market will support.

                Maybe all such modes of transportation will be too expensive for the market size, but we need more than one data point.

                • by LWATCDR (28044)
                  "Well, it can't have been too large an expense, if the planes flew until there was an accident. As I see it, if it were a real burden, they would have found some way to kill it much earlier while saving face."
                  Oh the UK and French Goverment lost there shirts on the Concorde. They where for prestige only. Why do you think so few where made? Take a look at the 777. It was much cheaper to develop than the Concorde but it took over 100 planes for Boeing to make a profit. I think Britsh Airways eventually made a
                • The only reason Concorde could afford to fly was the two goverments involved wrote off the development costs and presented them to the respective airlines for free. (And, not incidentally, save face for the respective goverments and enlarge the size of the virtual national penises.)

                  Well, it can't have been too large an expense, if the planes flew until there was an accident. As I see it, if it were a real burden, they would have found some way to kill it much earlier while saving face.

                  You confuse two dif

                  • by khallow (566160)

                    You confuse two different costs. The airlines could afford to operate the aircraft - but the could not afford to buy the aircraft, because the enormously expensive development program, when amortized across the few aircraft built, meant they would have been unaffordable. Ticket prices that included both the purchase cost and the operations costs (as ticket prices usually do) would have been in the high six figures. But the British and French goverments paid off those development costs, and presented the aircraft to the airlines for free.

                    Development costs are sunk costs. But I will grant that they are relevant to developing further supersonic transport vehicles.

                    • No, development costs are not sunk costs, if an aircraft builder does not recover development costs, they go out of business.
                    • by khallow (566160)
                      Look up sunk costs. Point is that it can still make economic sense to fly a plane even if it doesn't recover development costs because you lose less money that way. And even successful aircraft builders routinely fail to recover development costs.
                    • I know quite well what sunk costs are. I also know that loss aversion is a fallacy - doubly so in this instance as the profit margins aren't that big on commercial aircraft. And no, sucessful aircraft builders don't 'routinely fail' to recover development costs - because if they did, they would be bankrupt. Period.
              • by Teancum (67324)

                Sure, the market is there for supersonic flight. We can also build a machine that can make it happen. (So long as you constrain it to essentially transatlantic ranges.) What can't do is build said machine at a price the (fairly small) market will support.

                Supersonic civil aviation is one of those technologies that was hyped long before the reality was known.

                You miss the point I was trying to make here. I'm suggesting that the price that people were willing to pay for commercial point to point services at hi

          • by khallow (566160)

            Most people probably don't enjoy air flight as it is. Speed (or just getting there in a timely fashion) is often the primary concern.

            Freight is a strong point too. You probably could do eight hour delivery end to end almost anywhere in the sufficiently developed world. Maybe even six hours.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khallow (566160)

        No, its not following the path of aviation. See, aviation competed with trains and boats, and eventually won. The space industry isn't competing with any other industry. While there are many reasons to go from London to New York, there are few reasons to go from some pacific island to the moon, other than research or publicity.

        Most of the business that airlines serve didn't exist when there were only boats and trains. I'd say most of the passenger traffic is short term business or tourism trips. Go somewhere else in the world by plane, stay a few days or weeks, and return. Airlines don't compete with anything else for that business. Same goes for cargo. Most of the cargo is probably urgent to some degree. In the absence of airlines, there is no "next day delivery" for example unless the destination happens to be near by. Also,

        • No, its not following the path of aviation. See, aviation competed with trains and boats, and eventually won. The space industry isn't competing with any other industry. While there are many reasons to go from London to New York, there are few reasons to go from some pacific island to the moon, other than research or publicity.

          Most of the business that airlines serve didn't exist when there were only boats and trains. I'd say most of the passenger traffic is short term business or tourism trips. Go somewh

          • by khallow (566160)

            You are confusing then and now. At the time aviations infancy - most travel was commercial or high end tourist. The aviation industry took on those markets head on, competing with ships and trains, and beat them hands down. The short term business and tourist trips common today came about much later as the industry matured.

            Exactly the model that space flight would use if it gets anywhere. Start with small markets that can be served best by space flight and expand from there. A good part of the reason space flight is a lot like airflight.

            You need to come up with valid reasons why aerospace isn't comparable to outer space.

            He came of with plenty of valid reasons. You need to come up with better criticisms than incorrect historical references, airy handwaving, and unsupported "I believe"'s,

            So you say. I point out two relevant details. First, it's not terribly important that airplanes had competition from other transportation sectors. In fact, that would inhibit air travel because the presence of alternate forms of travel would take some of the demand that would otherwise

            • You are confusing then and now. At the time aviations infancy - most travel was commercial or high end tourist. The aviation industry took on those markets head on, competing with ships and trains, and beat them hands down. The short term business and tourist trips common today came about much later as the industry matured.

              Exactly the model that space flight would use if it gets anywhere. Start with small markets that can be served best by space flight and expand from there. A good part of the reason spac

      • by MobyDisk (75490)
        Saying there is no reason to go into space is like saying there is no reason to go into the air. We go into the air because it is the fastest way to get from point A to point B, not because there is something intrinsically useful about the air itself. Same with space: you could design a plane that could go from New York to Tokyo in 3 hours if you used a space plane, even though the space itself is not useful. Air became tactically useful in warfare, and space can be the same way. Also, the barren wastel
    • I'm normally the first to be wary of businesses and the whole corporate idea, but given Congress's penchant for stripping NASA's budget, this seems like it's going to be necessary to jumpstart any exploration of space. The possibility of civil space travel is far off, but the possibility of discovery is immediate. Space travel has a special way of presenting all new angles of attacking problems that have historically led to fantastic inventions. Having a private monopoly on space research would be bad, but
    • If your allusions to civil aviation are true, maybe one day we will see a Greek-owned space corporation called EasySpace [wikipedia.org]?
    • Urm...no. Aviation was started by inspired, (and slightly crazy) amateur inventors.

      But the, civil aviation, (not GA), took off (sorry) after sucessive wars provided the civil market with massive amounts of cheap matériel, ('planes, pilots, runways, navigation, engines....)

      Even today, Boeing and Airbus are propped-up by massive Govt. subsidies, as are many airlines.

  • One of the companies behind the project is MDA (MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates) out of Richmond BC, the Canadian company that buils the Canadarm for the Space Shuttle, and the Canadarm 2, which is on the Space Station. So these people are really "rocket scientists" from Canada, and other places around the world.

    ttyl

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