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Space Science

First Flight For SpaceShipTwo 190

Posted by timothy
from the next-time-do-it-from-l.a. dept.
mknewman writes "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane took to the air for the first time this [Monday] morning from California's Mojave Air and Space Port. The craft, which has been christened the VSS Enterprise, remained firmly attached to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane throughout the nearly three-hour test flight. It will take many months of further tests before SpaceShipTwo actually goes into outer space. Nevertheless, today's outing marks an important milestone along a path that could take paying passengers to the final frontier as early as 2011 or 2012."
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First Flight For SpaceShipTwo

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday March 22, 2010 @11:57PM (#31579272)

    I spent my honeymoon in Hawaii. I don't think I ever left the hotel room, much less the hotel.

    It was enjoyable, but did I really enjoy Hawaii?

    • by socceroos (1374367) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @12:03AM (#31579312)
      Being in a space suite is as close as we'll ever come to enjoying a 1 on 1 with good ole father space. I would say that even though you're merely an observer from an enclosed capsule, any travelers would indeed be enjoying the closest possible encounter with space.
      • by eln (21727)

        Being in a space suite is as close as we'll ever come to enjoying a 1 on 1 with good ole father space.

        From what I hear, these guys are going to be offering basically one small chair per person, and maybe a little floating around room. I think expecting an entire suite to yourself is a bit much at this stage.

        • Yeah, I wasn't referring to Virgin Galactic when mentioning the space suites. I was just highlighting the closest method while still being alive (that I'm aware of) for experiencing space.
          • Yeah, I wasn't referring to Virgin Galactic when mentioning the space suites.

            A space suite would be very nice, while a space suit would be bordering on cosy, or possibly claustrophobic.

          • by siloko (1133863)

            I was just highlighting the closest method while still being alive . . .

            and the closest method while being dead is . . . ? I'm thinking canons and space cremation!

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Hurricane78 (562437)

            Uuum, you can easily survive outer space while completely nude, for at least 30 seconds. It was already done, and NASA even has a FAQ about it. (In short: Keep your mouth OPEN and everything DRY, or you will burst and freeze. But if done right, you only get a swelling of your fingers and face, which returns to normal in a couple of hours. Btw: Radiation is the main problem.)
            Which makes some seemingly unrealistic movies pretty realistic and cool.

            • You forgot to add that you WILL vacate your bowels and your bladder - in other words you will be crapping and pissing yourself.

      • by lennier (44736)

        Being in a space suite is as close as we'll ever come to enjoying a 1 on 1 with good ole father space.

        A space en-suite, perhaps? With a nice space opera playing on the monolith - perhaps some Ligeti.

    • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @12:05AM (#31579328) Journal

      For an extra $50k, I am sure they would be willing to push you out into open space.

      Who wants to start the collection?

    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:01AM (#31579938)
      Umm, space travel is about the experience of space flight, the weightlessness, the view of Earth from space as well as the view of space unobstructed by the atmosphere, and just the knowledge that you are one of the very few people to visit outer space. Is your point that it's kind of the same thing as being in a closet?
    • Take a deep breath and smell the beautiful vacuum. Can you see it?

    • I spent my honeymoon in Hawaii. I don't think I ever left the hotel room, much less the hotel.

      It was enjoyable, but did I really enjoy Hawaii?

      Well, it sounds like you did...;-)

      Next up, 'private' flights for those wishing to join the '68 mile-high' club?

      (At least that's how high they're claiming it will go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaceship_two [wikipedia.org])

  • by ctmurray (1475885) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @12:07AM (#31579344) Journal
    It is like one of those time travel conundrums - did we name it Enterprise because we saw the future, or was the future influenced by what we named it here in the present?
    • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @12:13AM (#31579384) Journal

      Please see this post [slashdot.org] for the answer.

    • It is like one of those time travel conundrums - did we name it Enterprise because we saw the future, or was the future influenced by what we named it here in the present?

      Does it really matter? I mean, they could make a movie that everybody has seen and loved that explains how the time line was altered and how the ship came to be known as Enterprise, but everybody will still bitch about how some guy made the whole thing up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tekrat (242117)

      Even more problematic -- now they have to go back and change all the Star Trek movies and episodes, where some cast member explains "all these vessels were named Enterprise". I know it happened in ST:TMP, and probably in at least one Next Gen episode...

      They'll have to CGI in some other spaceships into the display. Heck, Star Trek violated it's own continuity by naming the NX-01 'Enterprise', when the NX-01 wasn't visible in the display in ST:TMP.

      Ah... nevermind! It's just a frickin' TV show.

  • Space sickness? (Score:4, Informative)

    by wsanders (114993) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @12:19AM (#31579418) Homepage

    So how many people are going to pay $200K to ride in this thing, and then ask for their money back because they spent the flight puking their guts out?

    I mean, for the same cash, I could rent a MiG-29 for a couple days and have a hell of a time.

    http://www.flyfighterjet.com/ [flyfighterjet.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by QuantumG (50515) *

      Just like on Zero-G flights, spaceflight participants are informed of both the risks and the likely side effects of their trip before flying. They're required to sign a legally binding document which states that they understand and accept those risks. Legislation has been passed to ensure that these agreements are sufficient to defeat any subsequent tort action. As such, they can ask as much as they like.

      Or, to put it another way: plenty of people are interested in flying under these conditions, if you'r

    • by lennier (44736)

      So how many people are going to pay $200K to ride in this thing, and then ask for their money back because they spent the flight puking their guts out?

      None, because iiiiiiin spaaaaaaaace! even being sick is awesome.

    • by khallow (566160)

      So how many people are going to pay $200K to ride in this thing, and then ask for their money back because they spent the flight puking their guts out?

      So what? They aren't going to get the money back, because that is the experience they knowingly signed up for.

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @12:24AM (#31579446) Journal

    YouTube link [youtube.com].

  • I know next to nothing about the aerospace industry (hope someone more knowledgeable will opine), but it seems to me Burt Rutan [wikipedia.org] and his ilk produce these wonderful machines faster, and at lower cost, than the big boys with their big design committees can.

    --
    Where are the canards, btw?

    • True. If they launch in 2011, you could say that it took private industry 50 years to recreate what NASA did.

    • What Rutan is doing is impressive, but it is nowhere near what "the big boys with their big design committees" were doing fifty years ago. SpaceShips One and Two are piggybacking on decades of NASA and other government space research. This is a good thing; it's exactly how technology transfer is supposed to work. Just understand it for what it is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:46AM (#31580110)

    A much better headline for the article would have been "Virgin spaceship gets its cherry popped".

  • by DiamondGeezer (872237) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:20AM (#31580274) Homepage
    Let's get this all in perspective. I was born in the mid 1960's.

    1960's - humankind put people into space and then put them around and then on the Moon.
    1970's - humankind stopped bothering putting them on the Moon, but did put them in high orbit - Skylab
    1980's - humankind dumped Skylab into the sea (and Western Australia) but brought in the shuttle
    1990's - humankind used the Shuttle to get people into low earth orbit and started to build the International Space Station
    2000's - humankind decides to retire Shuttle and considers retiring the ISS
    2010's - humankind lifts people to the edge of the atmosphere.

    At this rate by the time I'm retired, humankind will have set its sights for the top of the stairs. It may make it - but only if its risk-free.
    • Let's get this all in perspective. I was born in the mid 1960's.

      1960's - humankind put people into space and then put them around and then on the Moon.
      1970's - humankind stopped bothering putting them on the Moon, but did put them in high orbit - Skylab
      1980's - humankind dumped Skylab into the sea (and Western Australia) but brought in the shuttle
      1990's - humankind used the Shuttle to get people into low earth orbit and started to build the International Space Station
      2000's - humankind decides to retire Shuttle and considers retiring the ISS
      2010's - humankind lifts people to the edge of the atmosphere.

      At this rate by the time I'm retired, humankind will have set its sights for the top of the stairs. It may make it - but only if its risk-free.

      Very true. I was born at the end of the '60s, and missed most of the fun. I still lived in hope humankind will do something just as great someday, and looked for the USA for it. Seems to me that we'll have to look elsewhere - the US is only interested to put rich dudes into LEO. Fuck that.

      • The US is only interested to put rich dudes into LEO. Fuck that.

        Well, I am all for it.

        Oh, we are bringing them back? Fuck that.

    • Hey buddy, as a crotchety old retired man, those tall daunting stairs with all their possible hip breaks will look mighty risky even to the likes of you. =P
    • by roman_mir (125474)

      You mention Skylab and forget about a 15 year experiment with a space station before the ISS [wikipedia.org]?

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        Sadly, in the U.S., we're only taught NASA's accomplishments (sadly, I'm not kidding). I was in my 20's and researching it on my own before I found out the Soviets did anything other than Sputnik. In fact, the Soviets did pretty much every first except putting a man on the moon. And they probably would have done THAT first if Sergey Korolyov [wikipedia.org] hadn't have died in early 1966.
        • In fact, the Soviets did pretty much every first except putting a man on the moon. And they probably would have done THAT first if Sergey Korolyov hadn't have died in early 1966.

          Just off the top of my head, here are a few firsts from the Americans:

          *First man in to travel to space and land in the space capsule. (Al Shepard --Gagarin parachuted to his landing)

          *First rendezvous in space.

          *First docking in space.

          *First manned ship to leave Earth orbit.

          *First manned ship to orbit the Moon.

          The Russian

    • by ianare (1132971)

      I wasn't aware that 'humankind' was a euphemism for 'The USA'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by khallow (566160)
      Alternately, you can look at SpaceShipTwo as the first serious attempt to put people into space. Before now, there's been plenty of stuff that people are willing to spend a trillion or two of Other Peoples' Money. But over the past 60 years, few have risked their own money on manned space flight. My view is that we are seeing the start of the real Space Age.
    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @09:34AM (#31582592)

      1970's - humankind stopped bothering putting them on the Moon, but did put them in high orbit - Skylab

      Skylab was in Low Earth Orbit. It never got more than 275 miles from Earth. It would have been better to say:

      1970's - humankind gave up on going farther from Earth than LEO.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Before, messages traveled hand to hand via couriers. Eventually we replaced much of it with the telegraph, faxes and Internet where only the message is going but the people stay put. We didn't stop exploring space, neither did we stop bringing the knowledge home. I have seen far more of Mars via the Mars rovers than I ever saw of the moon from the moon landing. We have gone from 0 to ~443 known exoplanets in the last 15 years. We have sent many probes to places humans surely could not survive and that'd be

  • The high cost to the human race's colonization of space is caused by the complexity and danger of reaching and leaving escape velocity within the earth's atmosphere.

    The Space Shuttle turned out to be an expensive dangerous white elephant, the reason the Shuttle was so expensive is, because of its complexity with millions of different manufactured parts and the requirement to drag the fuel needed to reach escape velocity up from the surface of the earth.

    There is another route, we can reach the vacuum of spac

    • The high cost to the human race's colonization of space is caused by the complexity and danger of reaching and leaving escape velocity within the earth's atmosphere.

      Umm, no. We don't do escape speed "within the earth's atmosphere". Never have, and doubt we ever will (it would take a continuous 62 gravities acceleration to reach escape speed before we left the atmosphere).

      The high cost to the human race's colonization of space is mostly limited by the need for an enormous amount of upfront costs - we need

  • If only Derek Meddings were alive today. Take a look at that first picture in the linked article (from the underside), and tell me that's not something straight out of Thunderbirds or UFO, or Captian Scarlet...

    Anyone who's ever looked at the Mechanical Designs of the Gerry Anderson shows always thought they were elegant, and yet, somehow unpractical or unworkable has now been shown that the design work over in England was waaaaay ahead of their time.

    Either that, or Burt Rutan is the biggest Thunderb

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