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Space Science

First Flight For SpaceShipTwo 190

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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  • 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. []

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

    YouTube link [].

  • Re:Space sickness? (Score:3, Informative)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @12:28AM (#31579468) Homepage Journal

    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're not, don't.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @12:30AM (#31579480)

    Three percent of the GDP was spend on the best payback of all- progression as a species.

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @12:33AM (#31579508) Homepage Journal

    Those same people used to spend about as much on personal computers.. now you have one.

  • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @01:17AM (#31579766)

    Nonsense. The problem with the space race is that it was unsustainable. There was no way any nation would maintain that kind of spending for an extended period of time. We were spedning around three percent of GDP... for something with intangible payback.

            Intangible payback? Where the heck do you think that money went? Why, into the economy. 400-500,000 people were employed in one way or another by the space program or spinoffs. That's a hell of a lot more effective return on investment than any of the ~10% of the GDP pissed away into "jobs stimulus" in just the last year.


  • by Nuroman ( 588959 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:16AM (#31580454)
    I think you mean 3% of the Federal budget, not GDP. See []. In which case, for the years 1962-1972, NASA's budget was 2.86% of the Federal budget.
  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @07:20AM (#31581386)

    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.

  • 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 khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:12PM (#31586966)

    Secondly, this idea that private companies are so much more efficient than government really needs to be proved.

    Given the current subject, here's a couple of examples. SpaceX's Falcon 9 development has cost somewhere in the neighborhood of half a billion dollars, perhaps a little more now since they've been spending for a bit of time. In that time, they've developed two launch vehicles, the Falcon 1 and the Falcon 9, and three rocket engines, the Merlin (main engine for the Falcons), Kestrel (first engine which also serves as the final stage motor for the Falcon 1), and the Draco (a light engine intended for orbital maneuvering). They've launched the Falcon 1 5 times with 2 successes and are set to launch a Falcon 9 in April. Finally, they're well on their way to developing a Falcon 9 Heavy which will be comparable to the Ares I. Again all of this cost SpaceX somewhere around half a billion dollars.

    In comparison, the Ares I has consumed somewhere around 9 billion dollars over a similar time period (the SpaceX stuff started a year or two earlier) and has only one launch of a prototype which won't have much in common with the final vehicle other than the shape. You have more than an order of magnitude more spending and less result.

    Similarly, a comparison of SpaceShipTwo with the X-15 program yields costs that are an order of magnitude lower. And it's worth noting that NASA never bothered to follow up on an X-15 successor. That was left to Scaled Composites to do almost forty years later.

    So here, we have two examples of companies not only more efficient than NASA, but an order of magnitude more efficient.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain