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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 jd2112 ( 1535857 ) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @01:27AM (#44787905)
    It's only fitting that a carrier aircraft be launched from an aircraft carrier.
    • by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @01:55AM (#44787985) Homepage Journal

      I wonder if this will ever be viable as a form of travel rather than just space tourism, or if it will always be cost prohibitive. Most people can't afford a quarter million dollars, but for a few thousand dollars, I think a lot of people would love the opportunity to fly in space at Mach 2+ and get across the country in a couple of hours.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        if people were prepared to pay extra to get far away a bit faster, concord would still be in service, or at least succeeded

        • While cost of flights was an issue, the other problem was the limited number of routes because of resident's objections to takeoff noise and sonic boom. It is plausible that if Boeing had developed a competitor that may have lessened political opposition in the USA to flights landing at airports.
          • by Teancum ( 67324 )

            The other problem with the Concorde was its rather limited flight range. New York to London was just about at its extreme limit (on a routine basis with fuel reserves and no in-flight refueling like is done for military aircraft). That ended up making otherwise much more profitable routes like Los Angeles to Sydney or even San Francisco to Tokyo something that was physically impossible to fly with that aircraft. Had the aircraft been able to fly these routes (nobody cared about sonic booms over the Pacif

      • The one thing I've learned by following Scaled Composites over the last decade, they aren't going to make this affordable. I doubt they'll achieve their goal anytime soon if ever. They seem to have stalled out, progress is ridiculously slow. Very disappointing.

        Elon Musk seems to be doing things far faster as far as commercial spaceflight goes.

      • by Teancum ( 67324 )

        I wonder if this will ever be viable as a form of travel rather than just space tourism, or if it will always be cost prohibitive. Most people can't afford a quarter million dollars, but for a few thousand dollars, I think a lot of people would love the opportunity to fly in space at Mach 2+ and get across the country in a couple of hours.

        The funny thing is that when you get to significant distances where suborbital spaceflight matters, you might as well try for orbital spaceflight [] as the energy needed is the same or even more.

        A couple of years back Scaled Composites + Virgin Galactic did suggest they would build a "Spaceship three" [] vehicle. I haven't heard anything about it for some time and it seems like that idea has been dropped or at least shelved for a very distant future (more than a decade away). I suspect that if the current vehic

    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      see: Copenhagen Suborbitals's launch platform.

  • by fewnorms ( 630720 ) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @01:35AM (#44787933)

    The L.A. Times' story on the launch has some great video footage, too.

    Yeah, it's a good thing we have to visit the L.A. Times site to see what is basically nothing more than an embedded video from YouTube [].

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But how else will,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and, run their code on your machine?

      (for the ignorant, yes, that's the actual blocked script

      • by GTRacer ( 234395 )
        This. Is. Why. I. Hate. "Reblogging".

        Meaning, there are too many layers added onto newsy items, but without adding value. It's also why I rarely click on any news/vid links outside of larger sites I've decide to allow. And why I avoid local news stations like the plague. The number of ad network hooks is unreal sometimes!

        It's also why I love NoScript and wish it was on Chrome...
  • News? (Score:2, Informative)

    by FPhlyer ( 14433 )

    Why is Slashdot so late in reporting this? This happened days ago and has been reported widely across all media outlets. The NEW in "NEWs for nerds" implies "fresh" whereas this story is now stale.
    I guess this is "Olds for Nerds. Stuff that mattered."

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Sunday September 08, 2013 @08:42AM (#44789117) Homepage Journal

      Why didn't you submit it two days ago? It doesn't say "FPhyler writes" on it. And if you didn't want to see it, did you vote against it in the firehose? That's what the "stale" button is for.

      Bitching about something you could have done something about but didn't is pretty lame.

      • by FPhlyer ( 14433 )

        1. I quit submitting news to Slashdot over a decade ago when I realized that stuff I submitted would just be rejected only to have the exact same story published weeks later submitted by someone else.
        2. I don't use firehose. The frontpage wastes enough of my time so why would I want to be dragged into that monstrosity?

  • I mean, he's always been such an adventurer type. Seems that he should have figured some way to be 'fuel engineer' or something like that for the flight.

  • This is why people should not use the word "awesome" when they simply want to say that they like something. Because now saying this is awesome means little more than "Hey that's a nice pair of socks."
  • I don't think people have thought this through.

    We lost two shuttles, Challenger and Columbia, one leaving the earth and the other returning. Attaining escape velocity and leaving escape velocity in the earth's atmosphere, is dangerous, expensive and quite frankly stupid.

    There is evidence of water on the moon, believe it, or believe it not, water is condensed rocket fuel, use the water on the moon, to accelerate SpaceShipTwo, to escape velocity in the safety of the vacuum, that most of the of the universe se

    • 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.

      • Bringing objects to, and from, larger gravity wells such as those of the Earth and Moon is enormously expensive in energy and "delta V". Without launch catapults or skyhooks all that energy and delta V has to come from rocket fuel. For small, limited payload objects, it's expensive but doable, as is demonstrated by the Apollo program.

        For larger, ongoing systems like a lunar colony, the costs are literally astronomical. The potential benefits are often astronomical as well, but many of the benefits are achie

        • But manufacturing spacecraft on the Moon seems ludicrous. Build them in orbit, and never even consider putting them in a deep gravity well.

          Sure, just haul the construction materials and tools up the gravity well and then put 'em together.

          • The investment costs for the first set of solar sails equipment to build the first fleet of asteroid recovery recovery ships is very high. But they need not be manned, and they can start a cycle of cheap solar sails guiding quite large asteroids back to earth orbit for mining. The fiscal ROI for any significant sized asteroids returned to LEO, then used for arbitrary manufacture, including spacecraft, is potentially enormous. It take a very long investment cycle: the asteroids will take years to recover fro

          • by Alioth ( 221270 )

            It's a lot easier to do that than place the basis of an entire industrial society (what you would need to mine the moon and make the materials to build a spacecraft) on the Moon.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      ..I think that you might need to get something out of earths gravity well to construct something in the moon.

      so blablablabla blaabla water fuel blabalbal drones blablabal. contrary to what you seem to believe this isn't a spaceship btw in the sense that it would fly out to space.. it just jumps up from atmosphere and comes back down, just for frills.

  • hopefully bringing the era of (more) affordable space tourism even closer.

    This is no more 'space tourism' than going to the zoo is 'jungle tourism'. It's a glorified amusement park ride that only goes to 'space' because of an unscientific legal definition of 'space'.

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe