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Space Transportation

SpaceShipTwo Goes Supersonic Over the Mojave In 2nd Test Flight 58

NASA wasn't the only organization with a successful launch this week; Virgin Galactic might not have any firm plans for a launch to the moon, but this week successfully tested SpaceShip Two for the second time, hopefully bringing the era of (more) affordable space tourism even closer. "The test began when the company’s WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft took off with SpaceShipTwo at about 8 a.m. local time from the Mojave Air and Space Port. From there, the mated aircraft ascended to 46,000 feet, whereupon SpaceShipTwo was released from the carrier aircraft and ignited the rocket motor for a 20-second burn to an altitude of 69,000 feet. SpaceShipTwo achieved its maximum speed of Mach 1.43 during this portion of the mission, then returned to Mojave at 9:25 a.m. local time. Upon landing, the test pilots at the controls of SpaceShipTwo, Mark Stucky and Clint Nichols, both pilots for Scaled Composites, reported a flawless flight." The L.A. Times' story on the launch has some great video footage, too.
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SpaceShipTwo Goes Supersonic Over the Mojave In 2nd Test Flight

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  • by FPhlyer ( 14433 ) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @06:28AM (#44788753) Homepage

    I don't think you've thought this through...

    The purpose of SpaceShipTwo is to reach suborbital flight not to obtain escape velocity.
    The purpose of the Space Shuttle was to reach low Earth orbit not to obtain escape velocity.
    We did not loose Challenger or Columbia in a "dangerous, expensive and quite frankly stupid" endeavor to achieve escape velocity.
    Even with your plan of extracting resources from the moon you still have to design and build your payloads on earth and that means traversing the atmosphere at some point during the mission. At least until we have more permanent manned facilities off earth that can perform their own manufacturing and fabrication.
    That said... going to the moon makes lots of sense. We're funding billions of dollars sending probes to the Jovian moons and Mars why? Looking for life. That's a big gamble who's only reward right now is going to be to answer the philosophical question of whether or not man is alone in the universe. Yeah... it might pay off but then again it might not. For all we know we are sending probes out with all the wrong instruments for finding that life because we're assuming that life requires water and that it will be carbon based. That's a big assumption based only on limited data. We only know of one world where carbon based life exists and uses water as a solvent. Could be that most life in the universe is based on totally different molecular structures.

    We've got a whole other world right here on our back porch. Why isn't the moon already crawling with rovers? Why aren't we prospecting it's surface for minerals and materials that humanity can use? Why aren't we exploring it's surface for caves that we can seal off and flood with a breathable atmosphere for building a permanent human settlement? If we can get full-on manufacturing and construction facilities operating on the moon we can build spacecraft that can visit the rest of the solar system using much less v then it does to send the same spacecraft from the surface of the Earth. From Earth you have to account for higher gravity and aerodynamics. From the moon... well heck, even the tiny little Apollo lunar module was capable of launching from the surface and achieving lunar orbit.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.