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SpaceShipTwo Sets a New Altitude Record 117

An anonymous reader writes "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo reached an altitude of 71,000 feet, beating out its previous record of 69,000 feet. From the article: 'This time around, Virgin Galactic and Mojave-based Scaled Composites, the plane's builder, tested a new reflective coating on the rocket plane's tail booms. The flight also marked the first tryout for a thruster system that's designed to keep the plane on course when it's above the atmosphere. Virgin Galactic said all of the test objectives were met.'"
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SpaceShipTwo Sets a New Altitude Record

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  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @03:21PM (#45933237)

    It's "record for this particular aircraft", nothing to do with a plane flying about at 85,000ft 48 years ago.

  • by f3rret ( 1776822 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @03:47PM (#45933385)

    Because it's obvious that our technology has peaked and no one's going to colonize the universe. But there's a small yet vocal segment of the geek crowd that needs to believe that technological progress is infinitely exponential, that planet Earth is just a "rock", and the species has this glorious manifest destiny in space. But don't you date call it a religion.

    The alternative to this being that we as a species is doomed to forever live on a single world, and slowly but surely deplete all natural resources available to us here and then eventually die out and vanish forever.

    You might be right, technology might have peaked and we might never move beyond Earth, but that doesn't mean we should give up trying. Giving up is never the best option.

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @04:17PM (#45933527) Journal

    But there's a small yet vocal segment of the geek crowd that needs to believe that technological progress is infinitely exponential

    Infinitely is a long time, but there's no apparent limit on technological growth that we've seen so far. Remember, "technology" isn't iPhones and rocket ships - those are toys enabled by technology - technology is efficiency at producing and delivering goods and services.

    Efficiency transforms a cell phone from a brick with a car battery attached into the uninteresting bit of the computers most people carry. Efficiency transforms a GPS receiver from 50 pounds of gear with an attached generator, to another tiny bit of that same handheld device. Efficiency means the amount of America covered by forests has grow steadily for decades as it now take so little farmland to feed everyone. Efficiency means the much-reviled WalMart can undercut everyone else because they have the best logistics network ever invented.

    Everywhere around you that you see inefficiency, that's more room for technological growth to continue, more evidence that it hasn't yet "peaked". Sure, there may be strict limits on what man can accomplish with chemical rockets, but there's value in doing those things more cheaply, more efficiently. And with sufficient time and technology, chemical rockets will become quaint, like steam engines.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982