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Mike Melvill Chosen To Fly SpaceShipOne 527

ansimon writes "Mike Melvill is chosen to fly SpaceShipOne to the outer limits of this rock that we call earth. Mike will be the first to earn his astronaut wings with a privately-developed aeroplane/rocket. A new era of space exploration is about to begin! Godspeed and come back safe, so the rest of us can go too..."
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Mike Melvill Chosen To Fly SpaceShipOne

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:39PM (#9480617)

    Share value of Mike's life insurance company plummeted.

    • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Informative)

      by PPGMD ( 679725 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:51PM (#9481052) Journal
      No, they have an exemption for hazardous activities.

      My first life insurance company didn't cover me while I was flying, took me a while to find a company that would cover me during recreational flying, and soaring, without charging me through the nose.

      Also don't tell some car insurance companies your a pilot, you will get the rates of a 16 year old.

  • by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:41PM (#9480624) Journal
    . . . even if something does go wrong, there wouldn't be any better way to go out, especially with a flight history such as his.

    On the other hand, not much left to top this if it does go flawlessly.
  • by isolationism ( 782170 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:41PM (#9480627) Homepage
    ... When I read the news as well, about the upcoming test flight.

    For one who's done a lot of reading of both science fiction as well as cosmology, the stars seem so far out of reach for my short lifetime.

    Getting into space isn't exactly reaching the stars, but it's the first step on the journey. I hope the mission goes smoothly and its success is a sign of things to come.

    • by aheath ( 628369 ) * <adam,heath&comcast,net> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:48PM (#9480669)
      Tomorrow's flight reminds me of the excitement that I felt about space flight when I was growing up in the sixties and seventies.

      I hope that a partnership between the public sector and private enterprise will help to drive down the costs of access to space.

      Early aviation development was partially funded by the public sector when the United States Post Office subsidized airlines by implementing air mail.

      I hope that the government will use private spacelines for all launches of non-military hardware.

      • Tomorrow's flight reminds me of the excitement that I felt about space flight when I was growing up in the sixties and seventies.

        I was a kid when the Columbia took its first trip in '81, so I've never lived in a time when space flight wasn't a reality. However, when I looked at pictures of SpaceShipOne tonight and read about the people filling the motels for miles around the world's first civilian spaceport, I literally started crying out of pure joy. Space has always been the domain of guys with The Right Stuff - bigger-than-life heros that risked it all. However, as of tomorrow, the rest of us get to take our shot at it. Tomorrow, I fly into space, and the universe will be a lot closer for me and my children.

        Bring 'er home safe, Mike. A whole world full of regular Joes are praying for you.

        • Well said, very well said indeed.
          I was born in 1970 and was at home when the first shuttle exploded on liftoff. I've read so much from the masters and grand masters of Science Fiction.
          I've always felt that 'Out there' is where our destiny as a species lay. And this is clearly apart of the next major step for us on that road.
          While I applaud and admire the great men and women who've 'boldly gone' and took those first steps off this tiny little hunk of soil we call home, It is indeed time for the 'rest
      • I hope that the government will use private spacelines for all launches of non-military hardware.
        Other than stuff that must go on the Shuttle (essentially ISS stuff), every single non-military launch already goes up on a private, commercial booster! Boeing is a private, commercial company. So is Lockmart. So is SpaceDev. So is Scaled.
        • I'd frankly love to see military stuff banned from space altogether.

          It'd *really* *really* be nice to know *somewhere* , there is a place outside of millitary juristiction.
        • Clarification... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by El Camino SS ( 264212 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:31AM (#9484102)

          Look, I think you are missing the point.

          This is a private MANNED flight.

          So what if the boosters are made by private aerospace firms? All they are launching are toys. Toys that can take zero gravity, zero kelvin, and zero pressure. The big deal about this is about MANNING a capsule into space without a goverment doing anything but giving permits like a building inspector.

          You are talking about subcontractors. Look, I understand what you are saying, but to be truthful, your +4 insightful makes no sense here.

          MANNED SPACEFLIGHT. MANNED. Non-governmental pilots in space. Big deal. Real big deal considering all the cash that has washed up for NASA.
    • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:59PM (#9481106)
      Getting into space isn't exactly reaching the stars, but it's the first step on the journey.

      I'd rather not reach the stars.. I hear it's very warm there.
  • by GameGod0 ( 680382 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:41PM (#9480630)
    ... or the first person to get a privately funded cremation in outer space... you know, whatever floats his boat.
  • Yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hangin10 ( 704729 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:43PM (#9480642)
    This is really cool.

    I have to admit I'd rather be Captain of a
    large ship rather than pilot of a small
    tin can though...

    Saving up for my first starship, which I suppose
    will be available in the next 40 years or so,
    around the time I'll be having my first mid-life
    crisis (or for me, mid-life crisis'es...)

    We need to start NOW if we want to have 40 million
    people on the moon by 2371...

    • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:57PM (#9480712) Journal
      We need to start NOW if we want to have 40 million people on the moon by 2371...

      I am guessing your math doesn't include any births on the moon, so it would be done sooner. Besides, you put just 50 men and women in low g, several are going to at least be curious about sex.

      On another note...It will be very expensive to go into space as a passenger for a while, but I think they need to focus on their market: Rich internet dot.commers who want to have sex in space. Just like VCRs, the Internet, and video cameras, the first people who want to go into space have to be doing it for some reason tied to sex, and willing to pay full price, making it cheaper for the rest of us eventually.

      I'm not completely sure how this will work, but just about any new technology is always paid for by people wanting pr0n/sexchat/etc so why would this be any different? Would you pay $100,000 to get a bj in zero gravity?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:43PM (#9480645)

    ...Mike Melvill

    SpaceShipOne will not only be making history because they will be breaking the tradition that only governments have the ability to get into space. They will also be breaking the tradition that only people with dramatic-sounding names get to perform important space-exploration milestones.

    Fly, SpaceShipOne, fly! Fly for the drably-named of the world! For all the "I'm sorry, what's your name again"s of the world! For everyone named "Morton"! You represent all of us.
    • Re:YURI GAGARIN (Score:5, Informative)

      by foidulus ( 743482 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:59PM (#9480727)
      You left a very important name off of your list, Yang Liwei [wikipedia.org], the first Chinese astronaut(or if you must, taikonaut).
      I don't know if it is a very dramatic sounding name though :P
      • by Punboy ( 737239 ) *
        I thought a taco-not was a burrito!
      • Ya, right (Score:5, Informative)

        by apankrat ( 314147 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @11:40PM (#9481342) Homepage

        Then how about JUGDERDEMIDIYN GURRAGCHA [google.com], who is not only first Mongolian cosmonaut, but is also named way beyond 'dramatically'.

        In fact, here is a complete list [kursknet.ru] of all 436 cosmo-/astronauts. Choose your favourite
        • Re:Ya, right (Score:3, Informative)

          by henrym ( 414280 )
          You wouldn't believe how proud Mongolians are of this guy. I was in Ulaan Baator last summer for a work project, and stopped by the Mongolian Museum of Natural History. They've got an entire room dedicated to this guy, including his flight suit, and the parachute that landed his Soyuz.

          Sure, it may have been a political payback for the Mongol's support of the Soviet Union, but for a nation of mostly nomadic herders, it was quite an accomplishment.
      • Re:YURI GAGARIN (Score:3, Informative)

        by ron_ivi ( 607351 )
        "You left a very important name off". In that case, you also missed

        "I don't know if it is a very dramatic sounding name though" IMHO Guion Bluford probably has the coolest name of the lot.

        • Re:YURI GAGARIN (Score:5, Insightful)

          by sheriff_p ( 138609 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:36AM (#9482452)
          What's the significance of the first black guy in space? Seriously?

          We note the first Chinese guy in space, but not the first East-Asian in space. Do you know who the first blonde person in space was? The first person with green eyes?

          The reason your country has such an issue with racism STILL is that you create such significance in skin colour, where really there should be none.
          • Re:YURI GAGARIN (Score:4, Insightful)

            by JanusFury ( 452699 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ddag.nivek)> on Monday June 21, 2004 @06:55AM (#9482763) Homepage Journal
            Because, of course, racism is not a problem anywhere [friesian.com] else [balkansnet.org].

            The problem isn't just distinctions based on skin color, ancestry, religion, or anything else.

            The problem is that people want to hate each other, and they will find any necessary excuse to do so. Skin color is just extremely convenient, because you can tell what color someone's skin is by looking at them. Even if you make it unacceptable to discriminate based on skin color, the root problem still exists. People want to hate. And they do.

            The reason our country still has a problem with racism is because our people still want to hate. And instead of solving the root problem (hate), we're putting bandages on it by trying to eliminate the symptoms (racism, discrimination) with laws and manipulation.

            I agree with your main point, but your statement about racism is just plain wrong. Racism isn't a disease you can cure with some sort of vaccine or magic treatment. People truly, deeply hate each other.
  • by bigberk ( 547360 ) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:44PM (#9480646)
    Here is a mirror [pc9.org]. Wishing Michael a safe flight!
  • First since Columbia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moberry ( 756963 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:44PM (#9480648)
    If I am not mistaken this will be the first vehicle launched in the USA since the Columbia accident. That alone is something to celebrate. The USA is back in busness. :p
    • by mgs1000 ( 583340 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:49PM (#9480673) Journal
      First manned vehicle.
  • So far..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr Reducto ( 665121 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:44PM (#9480649) Journal
    So far, I have seen some people posting stuff related to Melville dying. This is poor taste.

    I honestly hope that Melville completes this first trip unharmed. Not only for his sake, but for our sake. If he dies, the government will more than likely shut the whole private space exploration business down and set humanity back by an untold amount of years.

    Why would anyone wish harm upon someone trying to pave the waqy for the rest of us?
    • Re:So far..... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TigerNut ( 718742 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:49AM (#9481677) Homepage Journal
      The government? Excuse me, but since when can your country's government bureaucracy tell private citizens in other countries what to do? (okay, besides the obvious answer - that's not my point). There is lots of underpopulated real estate outside of the USA that is entirely suitable for use as a space launching site, and there are definitely people that are not US citizens, that are also pursuing the X-prize. They may not be anywhere near as far along in their programmes as Rutan and Armadillo, but as with cryptography, the only thing that will happen if the US "bans" private spacecraft development, is that private spacecraft development will happen outside of the US, and then a lot of sniveling and handwringing will be done by those who got left behind.
    • Re:So far..... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BillyBlaze ( 746775 ) <tomfelker@gmail.com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:39AM (#9481884)
      If, God forbid, he dies, I don't really think the government would shut down the whole X-prize business, even just in America. Basically, it's not their jurisdiction as long as it's not a threat to public safety. Scaled Composites would be set back, sure, and it would give everybody pause, but they would likely continue. NASA stopping the Space Shuttles was different - they had a definite problem they had to fix, all their eggs were in one basket design-wise, and on top of that, they had an organization-wide safety audit and Congresspeople breathing down their necks. The X-prize teams, in contrast, have more diversity, less bureaucracy, and more brass.
  • Damn. (Score:5, Funny)

    by agent dero ( 680753 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:44PM (#9480651) Homepage
    I must have just missed the longer straw, Mike _always_ gets to test things before me

    aw, shucks
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Paul Allen: OK, the spaceship is ready, wanna try it?

      Burt Rutan (Very nervous as he looks at the spaceship): I'm not gonna try it, you try it first.

      Paul: Oh, come on. Just try it.

      Burt: No way, You try it.

      Paul: Hey, let's get Mikey - he'll try anything.

      Burt: Hey Mikey! (Whispers in Mike Melville's ear)

      (Mike gets into SpaceShipOne and flies into space)

      Paul and Burt: He likes it!

  • Wonderful! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RLiegh ( 247921 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:47PM (#9480666) Homepage Journal
    I'm thrilled at the strides private space exploration is making. I think it's appropriate that private companies should invest their profits into an endevour that will both profit them and humanity; leaving the government (funds, red tape) free to focus on its' proper obligations to its' citizenry.
  • by drenehtsral ( 29789 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:49PM (#9480671) Homepage
    I wonder if he's got the weight allowance to bring a towel, just in case...
  • Disaster? Unlikely. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dinodrac ( 247713 ) <jrollyson AT 2mbit DOT com> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:51PM (#9480686) Homepage
    Scaled Composites seems to have done their homework. The craft has a double presure hull, is relatively small, and uses a propellant that is arguably more stable than what we burn in our cars. Any failure is more likely to result in an abort than in a catastrophe. SpaceShipOne has been tested extensively, and the design, although radical, is comparitively simple when viewed alongside early government funded sub-orbital flight.

    Good luck and Godspeed to the SpaceShipOne team.

    • by Keebler71 ( 520908 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @11:00PM (#9481109) Journal
      "the design, although radical, is comparitively simple when viewed alongside early government funded sub-orbital flight."

      I have to disagree here. This vehicle is significantly more complex than the Mercury missions. Radical - yes, in the sense of using a dual-aircraft staging ascent, but you do not get much more simple than a redstone rocket with a purely ballistic capsule for re-entry. SpaceShipOne is closer to the space shuttle than it is to a Mercury capsule, in the sense that it flys like an aircraft with all the appropriate control surfaces - not to mention the feathering wing during re-entry. Radical - yes, simple - no. Bear in mind, that this design is made possible by relatively modern composite materials, so comparing this design to a 1950's iron capsule is a bit unfair.

      Let me preface what I am about to say with the following: I think that what Scaled Composites has done is nothing short of amazing. I don't need to wish them the best, as I have been to their plant, and seen and crawled inside their vehicle. They will win the X-prize tomorrow... That said, I believe that SpaceShipOne is more of a bureocratic and idealogical achievement. First off, SC defined the process by which civilian companies are certified for space flight. Second, this event will usher in a newfound pride and enthusiasm for space exploration that has been missing for decades.

      Unfortunately, this design is not very, well, useful other than to make Scaled Composites LOTS of money from space tourists. There is not a lot of interest otherwise in sub-orbital (heck, the Soviets skipped it entirely). SpaceShipOne was point designed to win the X-prize; the approach used is not scalable to an orbital version.

      All that having been said, I am very excited for the future of space flight... I know what I will be doing tomorrow morning!

      and yes, IAARS.

      • by reality-bytes ( 119275 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @11:09PM (#9481168) Homepage
        They will win the X-prize tomorrow...

        They will not win the X-Prize tommorow and they most likely will not win it in the nearest future.

        The X-Prize is for 2 manned launches with the equivalent of 3 persons mass within 2 weeks.

        Tommorow's flight is 1 person and less ballast mass and AFAIK, scaled has no plans to launch again in the following 2 weeks.
  • Lets just hope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by foidulus ( 743482 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:55PM (#9480703)
    that Cats doesn't decide to show up...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @09:58PM (#9480721)
    to be seen by the Vulcans in our solar system. This will usher in a new era of interstellar space travel. It will also give us new plotlines for Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • by dev_alac ( 536560 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:05PM (#9480761)
    The X-15 [nasa.gov] was the first plane to fly into space, and I'm sure much of its heritage will be carried on with SpaceShipOne. An excellent history of the program by an actual member of the program is At the Edge of Space" [amazon.com] by Milton Thompson. It is amazing to learn about the worries about the reaction control system for out-of-atmosphere flight and how their reentry procedures and much of their data enabled the Shuttle program.

    To Mike and the rest of the SpaceShipOne crew, best of luck tomorrow.

  • Godspeed - thx (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bodhammer ( 559311 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:05PM (#9480762)
    Thank you and good luck!



    I think I will reread the "Man Who Sold the Moon" by Robert A. Heinlein" tonight.

  • Work environment (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SpectreGadget ( 465507 ) <jim@harryfam[ ].com ['ily' in gap]> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:06PM (#9480772) Homepage
    I loved looking at the couple of pictures on their site showing the ground crew preparing the vehicle for its next flight. Jeans in tennis shoes vs. NASA's pictures of everyone in clean-room get-up.

    Smooth flight guys. As someone said earlier [slashdot.org], don't forget your towel!
  • by caitsith01 ( 606117 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:08PM (#9480777) Journal
    From the various articles about the x-prize and spaceshipone one could be forgiven for wondering whether these guys are really going into 'space', because relative to NASA's exploits they aren't exactly going that high. However, pictures like this [scaled.com] and this [scaled.com] from earlier test flights give a practical idea of just how high they are going to get... awesome! I wish there was some sort of webcast... anyone know of anything live?
  • by ShallowThroat ( 667311 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:15PM (#9480820)
    wow, that is pretty amazing, i didn't realize test pilots even lived that long.
  • by Thinkit4 ( 745166 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:19PM (#9480848)
    It's a great day for libertarian values for the private sector to budge into what was only the government's territory.
  • Lissen... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chess_the_cat ( 653159 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:25PM (#9480890) Homepage
    A new era of space exploration is about to begin!

    Being dead serious for a minute, if this guy fails--ie dies--it could very well mark the end of a very short lived experiment in private space exploration. Not because the American spirit will be dampened by it--on the contrary, I can see the Yanks trying harder than ever to make it work. On the other hand, I can already see the handwringers on CNN asking "Why isn't there a law?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:26PM (#9480891)
    For those of us who don't have access to CNN but have a decent enough internet connection, MSNBC is planning on providing live streaming video. You can find the link in most of their recent articles about it, including this one: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5236958/
  • by craXORjack ( 726120 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:53PM (#9481069)
    I wonder whether he answered yes or no [slashdot.org].
  • Obligatory (Score:3, Funny)

    by Geoffreyerffoeg ( 729040 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @10:56PM (#9481087)
    Take off every 'SpaceShipOne'!
    You know what you doing.
    Move 'SpaceShipOne'!
    For great history!

    Or, derived from Wikipedia's freeform translation [wikipedia.org]:

    We have no time to lose. It's up to him.
    All our hope for the future is in his hands.
    Godspeed, SpaceShipOne pilot!
  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @11:03PM (#9481132) Homepage Journal
    From his biography, he was the first test pilot of the Predator UAV [airforce-technology.com]. I don't know whether it was originally designed for manned flight and he convinced them from personal experience that it was too risky, or whether he flew in an airplane not designed to carry human cargo. Either way, he strapped himself into something that you couldn't force me into at gunpoint and brought it back home safely.

    When I was a little kid, I wanted to be Chuck Yeager. Now I'm sitting at home reading Slashdot. Sigh.

  • by Fiz Ocelot ( 642698 ) <baelzharonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday June 20, 2004 @11:07PM (#9481154)
    Just wondering, is there any international law that would prevent a private expedition to the moon (or any other place for that matter)? It would be quite a ways off, but the thought popped into my mind. I'd doubt there is any such law, but I'd expect a private space station before moon expedition.

    Maybe biotech companies would be interested in investing in building their own orbital lab? Or maybe I've just had a bit too much coffee...

    • The UN has more or less claimed ownership (well, at least control) of the entire universe excepting Earth.

      Among other things it says that no nation can claim territory in space, and then says that all private concerns are bound by the same rules as nations.

      It is a good thing that no one listens to the UN.

  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @11:08PM (#9481159) Homepage
    If these folks built this thing for peanuts (compared to NASA budgets), NASA will seem ridiculously ineffective. Like a giant corporation where no one gives a crap about what they're doing and comes to work every day not to do something to change the world, but to collect the paycheck every two weeks.

    It's not like they deserve this kind of treatment, but the question will be raised for sure.
    • If these folks built this thing for peanuts (compared to NASA budgets), NASA will seem ridiculously ineffective... It's not like they deserve this kind of treatment, but the question will be raised for sure.

      Raised by idiots, perhaps. While there may be many things to criticize about NASA, comparing SpaceShipOne to their efforts is definitely apples and oranges. Suborbital. Minimal payload capacity. Has NASA designed anything to that kind of spec since the early 60s? I applaud Scaled Composites' achie

      • by GileadGreene ( 539584 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:55AM (#9481935) Homepage
        Suborbital. Minimal payload capacity. Has NASA designed anything to that kind of spec since the early 60s?

        Well, the X-33 program was somewhere in that class. It was supposed to be a half-scale demonstrator for the next generation shuttle. Of course, in NASA's case they spent ~8 years, and around $200M, and didn't even produce flying hardware (let alone something that could attempt an actual suborbital hop). Whereas Rutan and Scaled Composites have apparently spent roughly a 10th the money that NASA did and now have something that has been off the ground, and will soon be suborbital.

    • NASA will seem ridiculously ineffective

      Seem?? The are ridiculously ineffective.

      Like a giant corporation where no one gives a crap about what they're doing and comes to work every day not to do something to change the world, but to collect the paycheck every two weeks.

      They're even worse because they're government funded yet really answer to no one. They need not show a profit or even a reasonable effort. In corporations you have stockholders to answer to and you need to make money to stay in business.
      • I tend to disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

        by melted ( 227442 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @02:06AM (#9481979) Homepage
        While they are huge and a lot of money is no doubt wasted internally, they're doing "one of a kind" and "state of the art" stuff, and this is always expensive.

        It's not exactly easy to quantify their impact on our daily lives, but if you watch TV, use cell phone and/or pager, or GPS you see your tax dollars at work pretty much. None of these things would be easy or even possible without NASA.

        Saying that NASA is too expensive is like saying that Wright brothers had wasted too much money on their first crappy airplane. Sure they did, but it was the FIRST working airplane. These days any fool can build a working airplane out of readily available parts. Back then it was state of the art.

        It sure did cost billions to send rovers to Mars, too. And it's not something anyone else will be able to achieve within the next decade.

        This costs a lot. Can NASA be improved? No doubt. Is the cost justified even given the current inefficiencies? It sure as heck is.
  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @11:15PM (#9481195)
    I've never been all that excited about the space program; I missed those years by a decade. I worked for a PhD that was part of the Apollo program; he left NASA when he realized that he would never get to fly in space. He was right, so long as it was being run by governments - only the elite of the elite would ever have that honour, and even then, only while there was political interest.

    Looking at pictures taken from the edge of space make my spine tingle - especially when they're taken by what amounts to a shoestring budget done by private enterprise. Pictures are one thing; tomorrow if all goes to plan, private enterprise will have put a man up there at the edge of space. Maybe not in orbit; I'm sure that will come in time.

    I can't imagine what it must feel like to look up and see black, then look down and see the glowing blue curvature of the earth.

    If you're reading this Mike, and everyone at Scaled Composites, you did a damn good job and we'll be waiting for your safe landing!
  • by Dante_J ( 226787 ) on Sunday June 20, 2004 @11:41PM (#9481346) Homepage
    It's appropriate to view this attempt win the X Prize with a full perspective of who Scaled Composites [scaled.com] are, and where they came from.

    Burt Rutan has been thinking outside the box, from the halcyon days of the Vari-Eze & Long-Eze to the innovative Ares [airspacemag.com] and the 'appear-to-thumb-your-nose-at-physics' Boomerang [popularmechanics.com].

    His company; Scaled Composites, have not only survived the drastic slump of the light aircraft market in the 80's and 90' but made innovation their tradition - no small feat.

    IMHO, they deserve to succeed with this attempt of Spaceship One [yahoo.com].
  • Ironic? (Score:3, Funny)

    by the_one_smiley ( 169638 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:04AM (#9481453)
    From the Launch Event FAQ [scaled.com]:

    Q: Can we fly a commercial flight to Mojave?
    A: No, Mojave has no commercial airline service.

  • by RedWizzard ( 192002 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @12:42AM (#9481641)
    From his latest Armadillo Aerospace news post [armadilloaerospace.com]:
    Speaking of next week... I think Space Ship One has good odds of success in the single-person-to-100km flight. I only see two real issues they may hit: The extended burn above the atmosphere may run into some control issues as the nozzle ablates, which will be hard to correct with only cold gas attitude jets. This would be a fairly benign failure, with the pilot just shutting off the main engine if he can't hold the trajectory. The dangerous part of the test will be the reentry with a significantly bigger drop than the previous test. At this point, I hope Burt has everything work out and he is able to make the X-Prize flights soon, because our prospects are pretty dim for getting everything working perfectly in the big vehicle in five months and having permission to fly it. I certainly don't want the insurance company to keep the prize money. If Space Ship One crashes, we will probably throw ourselves at an attempt, but it will be a long shot. No, I don't think any of the other teams are close.
    Best of luck to Mike and the Scaled Composite team.
  • North by Northwest? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by davidsyes ( 765062 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @02:49AM (#9482152) Homepage Journal
    Two Northwest Airlines Airbus pilots might be the next runners-up for tourist flights into outer upper/space/out-of-airspace...

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid= 51 4&e=13&u=/ap/20040620/ap_on_re_us/wrong_airpor t_1

    An inquiring mind (mine) wants to know a few things.

    After a Northwest Airlines Airbus passenger plane landed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, the passengers were detained for some 3 hours, interrogated, after being ordered to shut their window covers.

    So, does anyone know what is so special about Ellsworth that the windows were ordered shut? This does not seem to be the case (ordering shuttered windows) at Portland and some other bases sharing a border with commercial airports.

    Could the crew and or passengers have been interrogated as to whether they shot footage or filmed any of the base during descent? Did the military confiscate their cameras, or merely look at each frame and scan every laptop for pictures of the base (or look for quickly-hidden compact flash or other media disks), or did the military fly out with them on the short hop over the hill, ensuring that NO-ONE shot any pix or opened their window covers?

    Even more importantly, how can the pilot and first officer of a plane with probably more computing power than a space shuttle land 5 miles off course and onto a MILITARY base, unless they turned off the electronics or doubted the electronics, and landed by VFR, or Visual Flight Rules. And, even MORE telling, does this say the the FAA and the flight controllers were asleep at the controls?

    Can such a thing happen again? Will this prompt the military to "paint" commercial aircraft to sternly warn them to get back on course? Why did not the military simultaneously call the plane AND the air traffic control tower and vector the commercial plane away? Doesn't this say that even after 9/11, the military and commercial air traffic control systems, after billions of dollars in equipment and upgrades, STILL/one again let down the public?
  • by pandelirium ( 709326 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @03:56AM (#9482356) Homepage

    Just wanted to add that we have chat on the irc.freenode.net servers. The room is appropriately named #SpaceShipOne and is now open to the public without password needed.

    Since there is apearently no real-time coverage online (unless NASATV desides to cover it), this may be the next closest thing. Share your voice, express your opinion, and just hang out and listen to others.

    See you there...

    -Pandelirium - registered.freenode.net
    Moderator - #SpaceShipOne #maestro #cassini #Pandelirium MaximumPC
    http://www.pandelirium.net [pandelirium.net]

  • by dvk ( 118711 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:15AM (#9482409) Homepage
    Define Irony: all Slashdotters cheering for a company taht was (almost) fully funded by blood money of Evil Empire of Micro$oft.

    P.S. best of luck and successful flight to Mike and SS1 people.

  • Astronaut Prayer (Score:3, Informative)

    by Foo2rama ( 755806 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:57AM (#9482505) Homepage Journal
    "Father, Thank you, especially for letting me fly this flight. Thank you for the priviledge of being able to be in this position; to be up in the wonderous place, seeing all these many startling wonderful things that you have created. Help guide and direct all of us that we may shape our lives to be much better Christians, trying to help one another, and to work with one another rather then fighting and bickering. Help us to complete this mission successfully. Help us in our future space endouvors that we may show the world that democracy really can compete, and still able to fo things in a big way, and are able to do ersearch, developement, and can conduct many scientific and very technical programs. We with our families. Give them guidence and encouragement, and let them know that everything wil be OK. We ask in Thy name. Amen"

    Prayer of Astronaut Gordon Cooper, pilot of the Mercury-Atlas 9 mission, during 17th orbit of the Earth in the "Faith 7".

    While looking for a prayer for astronauts that I swore existed I found this. While I am not of any religion I hope that the mission will be on your minds, as private companies going to space will help speed up the exploration of space. The last thing we need is a setback on the first try. I posted this as it is a great look back to 1962 and how the US felt in contrast to today. While some things stayed the same...

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll