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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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  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> 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 afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @12:16AM (#31579398)
    3% of GDP was the smallest percentage we had spent on exploration in the history of the country (well really before the country was discovered as Spain spent more than 3% of GDP on Columbus's voyage despite being broke). The fact that we now spend even less is a national disgrace.
  • by bronney ( 638318 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @01:12AM (#31579724) Homepage

    Instead of being a money pit, it will be a money generator. And that is where real progress is at.

    I know everyone here knows this and ponder on the below once in a while but let me say this again in case someone never thought about it..

    You notice this whole thread, the money spent, received, progress, the whole construct, is like a tiny little noise on this tiny little round ball of rock. Debating whether spaceflight is "profitable" only makes sense within this ball of rock. Benefiting us rock people, to do more within the confine of the ball.

    The Apollo mission, can be seen as PR for the cold war, benefiting the people on the rock. But to our dear astronauts who'd been on the moon, I can confidently guess that the gratitude they have is something beyond which doesn't benefit anyone here. It wasn't money, technology, making your boss more money. It was the pure love and happiness of being "out there". To even start to go to space, and be in space, we must stop thinking about how it'll benefit us down here. There're many things you can do instead of flying to space. Bill Gates' doing some good without spaceflight. Spaceflight opens our minds. It does not buy you a Royale with Cheese.

    Ok back to Star Trek TNG :)

  • by xlsior ( 524145 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @01:20AM (#31579784) Homepage
    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

    How so?

    It's not like they're shoveling the money out of an airlock, almost every dime of it gets spend stimulating your local/national economy.... Giving tax breaks and the likes to stimulate the economy is supposedly good for the country, but actually paying people to design/build things isn't?
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • by Vectormatic ( 1759674 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @05:33AM (#31580814)

    that's what i am hoping, although i dont know if the take-off mode (horizontal air launch) will work for achieving orbit. If it doesnt work, then SS3 would need to be a conventional straight up rocket, which will hamper R&D, since virgin has done zilch in that area

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @11:30AM (#31584326) Homepage Journal

    Concorde isn't flying in part due to the so-called security screenings in airports (I'll concede that point) and because it was simply getting old. With the crash of the Concorde in France, the needed changes to make the vehicle safer and to bring it up to date simply weren't economical.

    The other problem is that the range of the Concorde was incredibly limited. The New York to London route was pretty much near its routine operational flying range, and certainly couldn't get to Los Angeles or South America.

    Still, it is important to note there is a market for those flights, and it wasn't a lack of customers which forced the discontinuing of the Concorde flights. Tickets on those flights also cost about $10k each.

    As for speeding up the security screenings, keep in mind that they are kept deliberately slow and long as a matter of principle. It is the government asserting it sovereignty upon the common serfs of the country and letting them know full well that they no longer have a say in the operations of the government. It certainly isn't to stop a terrorist, as Flight 93 on 9/11 showed exactly the best way to deal with a terrorist who wants to crash into a building. Do you think millions of people taking their shoes off is actually protecting air travel?

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @01:33PM (#31586294)

    Bullshit. The Apollo program expanded the economy because of all the spin-off technologies that were invented for it, such as surface-mount electronics which your computer would not work without. I've seen estimates between a $7 and $50 return for every $1 invested in NASA in the 60s. It's just like how WWII created all kinds of technologies (radar, microwave ovens, jet engines, etc.) which expanded the economy, except no one had to die in the space program (except for that early Apollo mission, but 3 dead is a lot better than 50 million dead).

    People simply aren't as innovative when they aren't being pressured to do so by some kind of emergency. No one's going to come up with truly groundbreaking technology in their garage, and corporations aren't going to invest in anything unless it has a 5-year payback.

    Of course, your short-sighted, greedy, and stupid attitude is very typical of Americans (both the people and the politicians), which is why the USA is going to become a backwater pretty soon, and China is going to be the world leader in 20-30 years.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:57PM (#31588456)

    The propaganda machine doesn't care about books (the general public doesn't read enough of them for anyone to care). It's film and TV that matter. And in that field you'll be VERY hard-pressed to find anything that mentions the Soviet space program in anything more than passing (if at all). "The Right Stuff" gives Sputnik about 30 seconds (guess Cosmonauts didn't have the right stuff), "From the Earth to the Moon" pretty much ignores them altogether (hey, where could they find the time to fit them in with a mere 12 hours of miniseries to spare?), "Moonshot," "Apollo 13," and pretty much every documentary out of the U.S. focuses exclusively on NASA and/or Apollo.

    AFAIK, the aforementioned "Space Race: The Untold Story" is the only documentary in the English language that even tries to include the Soviet program--and you can't buy it or see it (legally) in the U.S.

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