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2008, The Year of the Spaceship 126

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 ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:08AM (#21641179) Journal
    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 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.
  • Only sub-orbital? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WibbleOnMars ( 1129233 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:18AM (#21641313)
    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?
  • Wussies... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:41AM (#21641571)
    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.
  • 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 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.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle