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2008, The Year of the Spaceship 126

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

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  • by JKSN17 (956518) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:03AM (#21641117)
    Is this the new 2.0 edition of the Chinese Calendar. Let me know when it's the year of the iPod.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)
      There's probably a "year of Linux on the desktop" joke to be made from that subject as well, followed up with the standard flames, counter flames, trolls, etc.

      Me, I'll wait for the year of the back-to-basics-keep-it-simple electronics, thanks.
      • by nschubach (922175)

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

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

        • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:17AM (#21642061) Journal
          No, but recently I went to buy a microwave.

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

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

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

          I'm not saying that we should avoid anything complex, but we should keep things as simple as possible for the job at hand, and not add extra coplexity at the cost of simplicity. My microwave, for example, has all of those extra modes (which I don't use), but it didn't put them in at the cost of simplicity, it acts very straigthforward, unless I press one of the mode buttons.
          • by peragrin (659227) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:44AM (#21642459)
            I was just thinking that about my DVD player remote. It has play/pause/ skip etc, but then it has three men buttons, a num pad, and at least 15 other buttons that I have never touched. In the 8 years I have owned the DVD player some 30 butttons haven't ever been used, yet every new DVD player has all those same buttons.

            WHY?

            I ask as I have been using Apple's front row to watch some dvd's on my comuter, and apple's 6 button remote is simple to use and I have used every button on the player. Add a power button and i would love to use it as my DVD player remote. Possily a separate eject button but even that isn't nessecary. You have to get up to get the disc anyways, leave the eject button on the drive.
          • by jandrese (485)
            Heh, it's always annoyed me when a microwave makes you press a button before entering the time when you're just cooking something on high for N seconds. IMHO, every microwave should let you just punch in the time and press start, since 90% of the time that's all people are doing with it anyway. If you want different power levels or modes or whatnot then it's perfectly fine to press a button to switch it into that mode, but the default should exist and be useful. There is no reason for the "Time Cook" but
            • by Bluesman (104513)
              Right on. I like the commercial microwaves that have numbers 1-10 that correspond not to seconds, but to reasonable amounts of cook times. They also don't have a "start" button, it just goes. I don't need to cook something for 29 seconds as opposed to 30, and if I'm cooking less than 30 seconds it's unlikely that I'll walk away and not be able to stop the process after 10.

              And the only extra feature I want in a microwave is an option to disable the beep that plays every time you press anything. If you li
          • It's the soap dilemma. i.e. It's astonishingly difficult to find plain soap. Manufacturers want to differentiate their products to justify above-commodity prices so they add all kinds of antibaterial agents, detergents, plant extracts, magical micro-scrubby bits, apple stems, etc. To the point that simple plain soap is almost nowhere to be found. (Typically I can only ever find Ivory)

            Tacking on much beyond the ever-popular "Popcorn" preset button is just the manufacturers adding more bells and whistles

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by 6Yankee (597075)
        But in zero gravity, how do you get Linux to stay on the desktop?
    • I think you missed it. I think that was last year. 2009 will be the Year of the Floptical. Don't ask me why.
    • Wait till they get to the year of the wikipedia. The whole year will be blocked.
    • by sm62704 (957197) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:26AM (#21641405) Journal
      "2007 Could have been a the year of the Spaceship. Virgin Galactic intends flew White Knight 1 as well as Spaceship 1 during this, at this point planning for January. Burt Rutan, always reticent to comments on progress of any project, says nothing to support or contradict"

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

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

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

      PS: "reticent to comments"? I rest my case!
      • by Rei (128717) on Monday December 10, 2007 @05:08PM (#21647461) Homepage
        What really got me was this:

        says Whitehorn, adding that he wants to offer $3 million launches to low Earth Orbit for small satellites. This launch service could use WK2 or a larger successor in the 2015 timeframe, which Whitehorn referred to as White Knight Three, using in either case a two-stage rocket that would place the payloads into orbits.

        And the actual orbital launch vehicle is...?

        Don't announce non-news. Now, Virgin Galactic does have a couple rudimentary "orbital designs", if you can even call them "designs". You know what? So do I. So do hundreds of thousands of people and companies. Having a design is not the critical factor. Having something that you're actually building, that has a serious economic study behind it, is.

        Incredible claims require incredible evidence. SpaceX's numbers are already an incredible claim (perhaps even justified; time will tell). But Whitehorn is talking about half that, with a so far mythical launch vehicle. Where's the evidence? Scaled is a company that's been building low-performance rocket planes -- a task a couple orders of magnitude less complicated than building actual orbital craft. Show us the evidence. Show us the designs. Explain how these designs are going to violate the economic principles that have held back the rocketry industry.

        They mention a two stage rocket. Even with a carrier, a two stage rocket still requires significant ISP, *especially* when that small-scale (30,000 kg loaded; minimally bigger than a Pegasus, and that's a 3-4 stage vehicle), as theirs will certainly have to be. To put it another way, SpaceShipOne's entire propulsion system, from tankage to fuel and oxidizer to combusion and so on, is limited to an ISP of about 250 sec. Each stage of the *three to four* stage Pegasus has an ISP of almost 300sec. There's no way to pull it off without completely scrapping the only rocket design they have experience with and building a complex turbopump-driven LOX/LH vehicle. Scaled's experience with turbopumps: Zero. Their experience with LOX: Zero. Their experience with LH: Zero. Their experience with everything else to do with rocketry, from reentry TPS to gimbaled thrust to RCS to thermal management in a vaccuum environment? Zero. They've worked with the easiest and lowest performance of modern rocket systems, a design that doesn't scale to orbit at all. If they want to do this, they're going to be starting practically from scratch.

        Once again: where's the evidence that this is remotely serious?

        I know Scaled is everyone's darling, but as far as real, orbital rocketry goes, they're a joke. If you want to cheer for a relatively small private rocketry company, cheer for one that actually is seriously working on getting to orbit and has an actual serious chance of getting there -- SpaceX. Even with them, there are no guarantees, but at least they're building the right things, not joyrides with about as much relevance to orbital rocketry as me building a go cart would be to formula 1 racing.
        • by sm62704 (957197)
          I wish I had mod points. Your comment is informative, insightful, and interesting. And it's not even full of typos like mine was!
        • Even with them, there are no guarantees, but at least they're building the right things, not joyrides with about as much relevance to orbital rocketry as me building a go cart would be to formula 1 racing.

          Michael Schumacher started out on go carts.

          If you wanna do space tourism even on a semi-large scale then suborbital is the only thing feasible at the moment.

          You're right that using WK as a first stage for orbital launches sounds dubious but don't belittle what they're doing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mseidl (828824) *
      I'm tired of "This is the Year of..."

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

      As much as I want these things to happen, they wont come true. :(
      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by orasio (188021)

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

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

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

        For me, the year of the Linux desktop was 2002. From then on, it was easy enough for me to have a Linux desktop, and interoperate with only minor annoyances (much less time involved than increased maintenance involved with a windows desktop, at least in my case).

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

    • Just some thoughts: Ok asking for deposits on future tickets is a bad idea. Instead, they should be selling sponsorships both corporate and individual and get the U.S. populace to be part of this. Phase 1: Sell engraved pavestones, engravings on a wall of sponsors, advertisements, construction tours, etc. and get this rolling. Phase 2: Continue selling sponsorship for construction of shuttles based on best existing reusable craft design at that point. Phase 3: Once they have the spaceport built, they s
      • by geek2k5 (882748) on Monday December 10, 2007 @06:34PM (#21648671)

        Virgin Galactic has been asking for deposits for tickets on a proven technology that should be able to be scaled up. It is not like they are taking a tenth scale model and trying to enlarge that. And if the scaling doesn't work, they can always go back to the White Knight One and SpaceShipOne plans and crank them out.

        Phase 1: This is being done in a sense. Private investors, like Paul Allen of Microsoft and Richard Branson of Virgin are providing the sponsorship through direct infusion of cash. This doesn't prevent other groups from doing the small investment route. ("The Man Who Sold the Moon" by Robert Heinlein would fit this.)

        Phase 2: The 'best' reusable craft is limited to three or so designs at the moment. (I'm basing this on American craft that have gone into space and returned to be reused again.) One is the original X-15. Another is the space shuttle. The third is SpaceShipOne. In time, as other groups successfully send people up AND get them back down, there will be others. Success in these areas will attract serious investment from institutions and not just rich people.

        Phase 3: Bigelow Aerospace is already working with inflatable modules that can be used for a commercial space station. I seem to recall that samples are already in orbit. They'll provide habitable space that is more resistant to dings and bumps than hardshell modules and can be launched in a variety of vehicles. I predict that there will be other companies building a variety of modules that can be put into orbit WHEN we get cheaper launch capabilities. (And there will be maintenance companies that keep said modules functional once they are up there.) Sponsorships may not be needed here, especially if the modules are used for rich tourists and zero-G manufacturing.

        Phase 4: Asteroid mining is one area where a company could make lots of money. Since businesses want to keep expenses low, they'll be designing and building lots of space-locked vehicles to do the job.

        At the same time, accidents will happen and there will be instances where asteroids, cargo ships and cometary remains may be bound for very fast reentry into Earth's atmosphere. This is where having an emergency response team to prevent the reentry would be essential. While it could be supported via sponsorships, it would be better if it were a governmental agency like the Coast Guard.

        This space based Coast Guard might even be able to pay for itself by doing asteroid and comet herding of natural threats.

        Phase 5: The space farms will probably start happening in Phase 3. Water, nutrients, seeds and space farm equipment will be launched at much lower costs than the NASA standard of $10K and put into special modules that are as automated as possible. Other modules will handle sewage and air scrubbing, reducing but not eliminating the need for supplies. Eventually there will be enough space farm capacity to eliminate most food launches, with exceptions like beef, tree based spices and things that don't grow in space. (In time this could be replaced by vat grown meat and high quality synthetics, but that technology isn't quite here yet.)

        There are all kinds of ways that this could be funded. While free enterprise can work, there will be governments that will design or buy space tech. And there is room for sponsorship based action too.

  • the cost of tourism flights could drop significantly

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

      Of course, unless they establish orbital flights sooner and the price for same comes down farther and faster than I think it will, it's probably a moot point for me.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      the cost of tourism flights could drop significantly and most people would STILL never be able to afford it in a million years.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)
        Jesus Christ. If I can't afford space travel in a million years, just put me in a box and bury me in 6 feet of dirt, because I don't think I could live with myself.
  • run linux, so 2008 is the year of the spaceship AND the year of linux on the desktop?
  • by Tango42 (662363) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:14AM (#21641253)
    Last I heard, White Knight 2 was the *first stage* of a *sub*-orbital launch. How is it meant to get anything into orbit? Starting a sub-orbital craft from high altitude (as WK2 allows SS2 to do) makes sense, but I can't see it being much help with an orbital launch.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Care to elaborate ? It has never been done before but the fuel saved by starting from high altitude seems to have a lot of sense to me even in the case of an orbital spacecraft.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WhiplashII (542766)
        Typically the fuel saved is irrelevant - the real reason to launch a rocket from high altitude is better engines. To a certain extent, the efficiency of a rocket engine is related to the ratio of internal engine pressure to external engine pressure - so high altitude launch lets you use lower pressure (lighter) engines and keep the same expansion ratio.

        Of course, most people do that by using a first stage rocket to throw the second stage out of the atmosphere - because experimental rockets are cheaper to d
    • by Karrde45 (772180)
      The Pegasus series of launch vehicles by Orbital Sciences is an air launched rocket that delivers small satellites to orbit. You don't really gain anything from the altitude per-se. Orbiting the earth is far more about velocity than about altitude. What you do gain is a noticeable drop in air density, which makes the rocket dynamics much more agreeable. For large craft it's not worth it, but for small ones it is a viable method to get into orbit.
    • by savuporo (658486) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:12AM (#21642001)
      I suppose you werent aware of Airlaunch LLC [airlaunchllc.com] ?
      Another possibility, as pointed out in some other posts, if you dont take passengers as payloads on SS2 but do take a payload, which is a third stage, and release it after SS2 motor burns out, you could reach orbit. Admittedly, having a special payload-carrying version of SS2 without a passenger cabin would make third stage separation easier, but there is a reason to suspect that something like that is being considered and built by Scaled. Rutan has hinted about Tier 3 project before.
      • by Rei (128717)
        SS2 adds pretty insignificant delta-V to the system. You'd be better off just omitting it and using a craft actually designed for reaching orbit.
        • by savuporo (658486)
          Not so fast. Rocket engines work differently at different altitudes. Generally, nozzle that is optimized for maximum performance at sea level, does not perform well in vacuum and vice versa.
          Starting significantly closer to thinner air has its benefits. Also, Max-Q will occur at significantly different circumstances, providing for structural optimizations.
          There is a reason why SS1 is so small and lightweight, and still could go up to 100km with a weight of three passengers. Same benefits, to lesser extent ap
          • by Rei (128717)
            Not so fast. Rocket engines work differently at different altitudes

            And this has what to do with SS2?
            Methinks you're mixing up SS2 with WK2.
    • Keep your common-sense, fact and physics-based nit-picking to yourself. Rutan will undoubtedly be able to accelerate his contraption from 1500mph to 27,000 mph. It's just a case of carrying enough tyre rubber and kerosene! Surely the Rutan-powered moon-base can't be far away now!

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

    • by geek2k5 (882748)

      The article summary, as well as the article itself, mentioned that there could be a White Knight 3 for orbital launches.

      Another person mentioned Pegasus, which has been used to put small payloads into orbit. Oddly enough, Rutan's company worked with Pegasus. But I believe that THOSE launches were off B52s.

      A quick check of the www.scaled.com site links to the group that does the Pegasus launches. They are using a modified L-1011 for launches now and have over twenty successful launches.

      Rutan might be able

  • risk in liquidity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Speare (84249) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:14AM (#21641257) Homepage Journal

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

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

    • Re:risk in liquidity (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... t ['etz' in gap]> on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:34AM (#21641499) Homepage Journal

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


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

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

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

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

      If, when an accident occurs for the commercial spaceflight industry during actual operations of the spacecraft, there will be some very intelligent (they are rocket scientists, you know) people who will be able to calmly and completely explain where the safety protocols broke down, what was the real problem, and be able to honestly say that the problem has been corrected. This has been a pattern since the beginning of commercial aviation or even commercial shipping of any kind, and I simply don't see this one transportation method being openly dismissed to the degree you are suggesting if somebody dies. Do people still ride passenger cruise ships through the North Atlantic since the Titanic sank?
      • The only way this would have a significant impact is on a political basis. That would be, some idiot of a bureaucrat who gums up the whole thing by holding hearings and stopping anybody in any situation from using a rocket of any design to get into space.

        The function of the bureaucrat is to justify the job they hold. So this surprises you how? Don't make the mistake of thinking that the people who make the decisions have any more than their own interests in mind. It's nice to think so, but it's not
    • Wussies... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      Fortunately not everybody in the world are wussies, only the US media seems to be overly concerned with safety. As for the real men, there are still lots of Evil Knievels out there.
      • The real irony there is that the richest society in the world - and the one with the loftiest self-inflated ideals - has been taken over by the very people the founders of that society warned against.

          I suppose that was probably inevitable, given human history, but it still should give one pause, and make one think that maybe, just maybe, the human race needs an entirely different individual paradigm than religion and greed?

          Maybe. But one can dream.

        SB

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

      People really do join the military when they have college degrees. People really do drive Nascars. Some people are not driven by fear to avoid death - they are driven to embrace life to the fullest.
    • by khallow (566160)

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

      As another poster noted, we still have plenty of risk-seekers engaging in risky activities. To be honest, there will be fatal accidents. There's no reason not to expect it nor will they be "freak accidents". The people who actually fly on these will understand those risks.

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:18AM (#21641297)
    Just three ridiculous million dollars? With the contents of my wallet right now I could send 0.00002077886 satellites!

    Interstellar domination is finally at reach.
    • I'm sure they also accept Mastercard and Visa.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

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

      The biggest hurdle I experienced in developing a low cost research satellite bus was the "impedance mismatch" between the cost of the satellite and the cost to launch it into orbit. It is almost impossible to sell a satellite that lowered costs by accepting some higher mission risks when you'll have to raise $30 million to put it in orbit. Even dividing this cost through multiple payloads is not always that great a deal si

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

      Interstellar domination is finally at reach.
      3,000,000*0.00002077886 = 62.33658 So you have bills and a change purse. Weird enough. How do you get the .00658th of a dollar?
      • by kryten_nl (863119)
        3,000,000*0.000020778865=62.336595
        3,000,000*0.000020778855=62.336565

        There is no cent value in that range, I'm hoping that the GP will explain this conundrum.
        • by Thanshin (1188877)

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

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

          62.336565 US$ = 42.60 Euros.
          :)
          Temporal link that will fail as EUR/USD fluctuates
    • Hey, kids, Thanshin has 62 USD on his person.
      Happy mugging.
  • Only sub-orbital? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WibbleOnMars (1129233)
    I'm fairly sure Spaceship 1 was only able to get to sub-orbital altitudes. Assuming Spaceship 2 will have the same capabilities, surely that's a bit of a problem for their plans to launch satelites?
    • by Vulch (221502)
      Using White Knight 2, the carrier aircraft, not Spaceship 2. Take a small rocket that does have enough delta-V for orbital insertion up on the carrier aircraft instead of a Spaceship 2.

      It may also involve a Spaceship 2.5 without the passenger capability that acts as a flyback second stage and releases a third stage at apogee.
      • by khallow (566160)
        This reminds me. Scaled Composites likes to test their aircraft extensively. Having an unmanned vehicle with orbital capability would allow them to test a number of things without risking people. It's a good stepping stone to the desired orbital vehicle ("SpaceShipThree" if I'm not mistaken).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tgd (2822)
      They said White Knight 2 not SpaceShip2.

      Another launch vehicle could be used at high altitude to boost a satellite into orbit.
  • obWho (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:18AM (#21641315) Homepage Journal

    Burt Rutan, always reticent to comments on progress of any project, says nothing to support or contradict Virgin Galactic's announcement.
    That's because this Rutan and his brethren [wikipedia.org] are far too busy preparing for the next stage in their ongoing interstellar war against the Sontaran Empire.
  • wow Spaceship Two...how long did it take to come up with that name

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

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

    Mitch Hedberg was a funny guy.

    • RiP, Mitch. You are missed.
    • by khallow (566160)
      wow Spaceship Two...how long did it take to come up with that name

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Martian_Kyo (1161137)
        I know you're right. I am just glad my parents didn't name me Child Two. ;)
        • by khallow (566160)

          I am just glad my parents didn't name me Child Two.
          Yea. You'd end up in a museum too. At least, your future siblings would get cool names, like Kinder Mender (TM) or TotTycho (TM).
  • So the flights will drop to 50K dollars instead of 100K ? Where do I sign up?
    • by savuporo (658486) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:18AM (#21642083)
      Have a look what Armadillo Aerospace has quoted for their flight costs for Pixel & other VTVL vehicles.

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

      VTVL vehicles, like the ones that Armadillo, Masten Space Systems, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and a few others are building can ( on paper, at least ) approach way lower flight costs in the future, which will remain a small multiple of liquid fuel costs. Expect to see prices in $10K range in less than a decade.
      • Hopefully we can start getting mass into orbit faster and cheaper. I loathe the idea of being stuck in this gravity well when we run out of cheap energy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:27AM (#21641411)

    However, the report states that Spaceship 2 is 50% complete and White Knight 2 is 60% complete.
    How many citizens would I have to sacrifice to have these done in 1 turn? I want to research advanced tech 4.
  • I want my flying car before my personal space ship.
  • Early adopters: This is a good example of when you don't want to be an early adopter. The first version of Windows XP caused a lot of grief for users. The first versions of cheap spacecraft are likely to cause even more serious grief.

    When you recognize serious danger, skip the usual enthusiasm [mydogshavefleas.com].
  • We'll have to get an intern to test it.
  • While Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites are certainly the focus of this particular article and thread, they are hardly the only commercial spacecraft corporation that is making some significant progress and will be making headlines in 2008 (assuming that everything is still working the way it should).

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

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

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

    I'm just scratching the surface here as well, but there are some amazing groups of individuals who have been devoting resources to commercial spaceflight, and 2008 really could be "the year of the spacecraft", at least in terms of headlines generated by the mainstream press. Virgin Galactic certainly isn't going to be the only one in the headlines here, although they may be the first to send paying passengers into space on something other than a Soyuz capsule.
  • They would have gone with the Black Night, but he lost his limbs in a fight with King Arthur and thus couldn't handle the spacecraft. It's a shame, really.
  • I wish I had the kind of money to invest in Virgin Galactic. If they can come through on this they are going to have more money than Gates in no time. We are watching the future unfold here.
  • Hey, wait a minute. Space tourism is cool, and breaking governments' monopoly of space travel has its merits, but is no one concerned about the environmental damage this is going to wreak? Why is there no discussion of how much carbon these rockets are going to be spewing into all levels of the atmosphere?
    • by khallow (566160)
      Why should we be concerned? I see neither a good demonstration that global warming is serious enough to warrant hindering the global economy or that something important but with a low carbon footprint like space launch should be subject to carbon emission regulation. This has all been discussed before.
    • I'm not sure what fuel SpaceX and Virgin Galactic use, but the US Space Shuttle burns primarily hydrogen/oxygen via it's three main engines (the SRBs use a solid propellant whose name escapes me at the moment). If we continue to use hydrogen/oxygen for sub-orbital/orbital launches, we should be fine as long as we have low-carbon methods of generating the hydrogen from water (nuclear, solar, etc).
  • Ob. skepticism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Robaato (958471)
    So, if Rutan, Virgin Galactic, and Scaled Composites are aiming for orbital flights, will they have to redesign the spacecraft from scratch?

    Why SpaceShipOne Never Did, Never Will, And None Of Its Direct Descendants Ever Will, Orbit The Earth [daughtersoftiresias.org]
    • Well, considering that Burt Rutan has been designed aircraft and spacecraft "from scratch" from day one, I'd have to say Yes, that's exactly what they have to do.

      Of course they are also relying on more than a half century of manned spaceflight; the data from those flights hasn't exactly been kept a secret.

      Your link assumes the companies won't advance their designs, as is common in engineering endeavorers. The person who wrote this has what I'd call an extreme amount of ignorance when it com
  • From the summary:

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

    That's a bit of a nonsensical comparison. The small satellites White Knight will able to launch will be a fraction of the size of that which could be launched by Falcon. Kinda like saying "I'm going

    • I think Elon Musk is a great guy for starting SpaceX. When you decided "Hey, I want to colonize Mars.", find out the launch costs are way too high, and then decide to lower launch costs by doing your own development, that's just a fantastic thing to do I think.
  • Yea, I also heard this is the year they're going to release Duke Nukem Forever and Spore. We're also going to see jetpacks, a cure for diabetes, AIDs, cancer, and a stronger unicorn.
  • Every time I hear the big words 'space', 'space tourism', 'commercial space flight' etc I can't stop thinking how limited we are in our capabilities. Going to space means being able to visit at least our companion planetoid, the Moon, but we can't even do that...

2.4 statute miles of surgical tubing at Yale U. = 1 I.V.League

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