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Space Science Technology

SpaceShip Two, XCOR Lynx Prepare For Powered Flights 77

Posted by timothy
from the hope-it-all-goes-to-plan dept.
RocketAcademy writes "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two is in the final stages of preparation for powered flight. The suborbital spacecraft, built by Scaled Composites, has successfully completed airspeed, angle-of-attack, center-of-gravity, and structural tests during unpowered glide flights. It is now on track for powered glide flights by the end of this year. Meanwhile, in the hangar next door, XCOR Aerospace continues to work on the Lynx spacecraft, expected to begin powered flight tests early next year. Some exclusive photos provide a sneak peak at things to come." Also to watch for in the world of private space launches, next month (possibly as early as the 8th), SpaceX has another launch scheduled to reach the ISS.
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SpaceShip Two, XCOR Lynx Prepare For Powered Flights

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  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @04:11PM (#41403955)
    <facepalm>
    • I don't see that in the summary. Perhaps it's been edited already?

      • Nevermind... it does say that. Clearly the word "glide" in that sentence should have been omitted.

    • Yeah, that was a typo, but technically it is correct. The powered segment of the flight will be powered by a glide back to landing.
      • by Moofie (22272) <lee.ringofsaturn@com> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @04:26PM (#41404127) Homepage

        "The powered segment of the flight will be powered by a glide..."

        Surely you meant "The powered segment of the flight will be followed by a glide..."

      • It just struck me as being like an "underwater flotation test".
        • by Immerman (2627577)

          And both can be technically accurate - a powered glide would seem to describe a flight plan in which the craft is basically in a glide but the engines are on standby to provide any minor adjustments or emergency thrust necessary.

          An "underwater flotation test" would likely be termed a "buoyancy test" in most circumstances, but the former might be more informative if you're discussing a craft intended to float on the "surface" of a sharp density gradient such as between two non-mixing thermal masses or an und

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I can't stand your syntactically invalid XML
      <facepalm />
      (I can't recall if the space is required or not, but I always add it for readability if no other reason.)
    • to compliment their earlier unpowered glide flights

      • to compliment their earlier unpowered glide flights

        Wow, that was a REALLY GREAT unpowered glide flight!!
  • To me the question is this indicative od the privatization of orbital flight successful. We seem to have a number of firms inline for either manned or unmanned systems. Would we be better served via the public sector?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Have you been paying attention the last 20 years? Shit, the Republicans in Congress are trying to cut funding for weather satellites.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Given the total amount of money spent on private spaceflight vs the amount of tax dollars poured into public spaceflight. I have to say the private guys are doing pretty good. Give them time and money and they will be better than the public sector.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Urza9814 (883915)

        Yea, they're doing well because they've gotten the benefits of _both_ the dollars "poured into public spaceflight" AND the private subsidies. What, you think they're reinventing the rocket from the ground up?

        NASA is the only R&D shop working for the public benefit. And now that they've done the hard work, we're going to now start funneling our tax dollars into private corporations for them to make private profit off of public funding. "Privatizing profits and socializing debt" indeed...

        • by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @05:33PM (#41404933)

          Yea, they're doing well because they've gotten the benefits of _both_ the dollars "poured into public spaceflight" AND the private subsidies. What, you think they're reinventing the rocket from the ground up?

          NASA spent about the same to put a fake upper stage on a shuttle SRB and launch it into the sea as SpaceX did to develop a brand new rocket engine and two rockets and launch them into space.

        • NASA is the only R&D shop working for the public benefit.

          Really? That would come as a bit surprise to DARPA, NIST, etc. Do you know who invented the Internet? Not to mention all the universities, astronomical observatories, private foundations, etc. What "public benefit" do you think NASA should be working for, if you never want the results to be "funneled" to the public?

        • by MattskEE (925706)

          Umm, this is how government funded R&D is supposed to work. The government spends money on projects that are too risky or too long-term for private companies to easily justify funding on internal dollars. Then when a higher level of technical maturity is reached private companies can take the body of knowledge, develop their own products for the government and private users, and start selling products to the government (and other customers) for less money than the government would have spent to build

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Where were they 20-30 years ago then? I mean, they're all coming out now (but not commercially available yet, still undergoing testing). Considering we archived orbital flight 30 years ago, they have 30 years of experience to build with.

        Or could it be perhaps today there's actually enough money being thrown around by people who want to be astronauts that there's now a good enough ROI? 30 years ago, there was no ROI so no one invested in it (other than NASA).

        We had the technology to do so 30 years ago. Yet t

        • by khallow (566160)

          Yet these private companies advertising orbital flights (for the last decade or so) still haven't launched a commercial service yet (I'm not talking preorders. I mean launching and recovering now as a regular mission).

          The ULA (and its predecessors, Lockheed Martin and Boeing) have launched many things into orbit over the past twenty five years. Orbital Sciences has launched stuff for about 20 years. These are private companies advertising orbital flights.

    • by Burdell (228580)

      Funny you should say that, since none of Virgin, Scaled Composites, and XCOR are working on orbital flight.

      • XCOR has a two-stage fully reusable orbital system in early development to directly follow the Lynx. XCOR CEO Jeff Greason has mentioned this during several talks, but the company in general avoids speaking about things which are not actual hardware yet.

        Rest assured, however, suborbital systems in general are steeping stones to bigger things, much like Mercury was to Apollo.

        • by Burdell (228580)

          Mercury was orbital after the first two manned flights, which used the same vehicle on top of a smaller rocket. Scaled Composites' work is not something that will apply to orbital flight (unless you want to re-create the space shuttle, and take a long time to get there).

          • We've heard statements like that before, in the 1970's. "Apple's work is not something that can be applied to real computing.... The Wright Brothers' work is not something that can be applied to real transportation...."
            • by Burdell (228580)

              Hardly a similar comparison. We know what it takes to get to space.

              • Hardly a similar comparison. We know what it takes to get to space.

                Yes, and IBM, DEC, CDC, etc. knew how to build computers. So it *is* a "similar" comparison.

                But there's a difference between merely "getting to space" (which was the goal in the 1960's) and getting to space affordably (which is the goal today).

                If you just want to stuff an astronaut into a capsule and shoot him into space, regardless of cost or safety, that can be done pretty quickly. Especially if you buy the capsule from the Russians.

                But that's not what we're looking for. The goal for companies like

          • Mercury was orbital after only two flights because it was part of the Moon race -- a political statement. The motto was "waste anything except time." If the goal had been to develop affordable, reliable, routine access to space, it would have taken longer.
    • Would we be better served via the public sector?

      To develop much of the technology and necessary knowledge in the first place, probably. But to take it further and bring the costs down to within reach of more people, the private sector probably has a better chance. There's a role for both.

  • Their powered gliders are not susceptible to brute force attacks.

  • Coolest transformer..Powerglide G1. When is he launching? Yet another instance of life imitating art. His head is pointy though, maybe an ablative heat shield hat for re-entry!

The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination -- but the combination is locked up in the safe. -- Peter DeVries

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