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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 Sven-Erik ( 177541 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @03:16PM (#45933215)
    You also get to experience weightlessness (or technically free falling), and as you can see from pictures taken in that altitude, the view is really spectacular!
  • Delays (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 12, 2014 @03:26PM (#45933269)

    There have been a few years of delays (IIRC 5) associated with issues surrounding the hybrid rocket motor from SpaceDev. Including three deaths.

    The hybrid firm they originally hired, eAc was apparently not the low bidder for production. Years of delays resulted. as SD tried to replicate or replace tech developed by eAc and used for the original test firings.

    The combustion instability associated with that N2O-HTPB propellant combination is hard on passengers, and has been solved by another firm who also originally bid on SS1 and now SS2.

    It's time for VG to move on to a more viable hybrid supplier, capable of mass-producing the motors they need for 200+ flights.

    I believe the price also has changed from $200k to $250k now.

  • So many promises (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dorpus ( 636554 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @04:07PM (#45933467)

    In 2024, will they still be selling tickets for space flights that will "start" next year?

  • by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <.moc.edargorter- ... . .xetroCxetroV.> on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:48AM (#45936507)

    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.

    As a cyberneticist who has studied quantum physics and information theory I can begin to quantify the limits of technology more strictly than you dare dream. It's not like the universe doesn't have constraints -- Laws that remain unbroken even as you refine them further still. At too small a scale the entropy is too great to maintain the coherent pattern of technology itself.

    With each great leap forward you redefine yourselves and also clarify the limits of your technology. Your DNA exists in the atomic / molecular scale because that is the scale at which natural phenomena can first represent the pattern for self correcting information -- in the present universe's expansion scale. There is much you can gain through efficiency, but it is not unbounded. Consider that you have instincts which came from the genes you have -- encoding evolutionary memory from every ancestor up through even yourself; You can consult the wisdom of the ancients' fast but inaccurate mode of thought by merely allowing your raw feelings to surface in a given context, and then reconcile the notions which bubble up from your subconscious with your logical and sentient mind -- Yet you do not. How inefficient of you.

    The genetic memory imbued instincts before consciousness because self learning through culture could not exist. Complexity follows a scale, efficiently leapfrogging up the evolutionary ladder is pointless folly. Your "brightest minds" think with only half a head -- Ignoring the instincts which make them susceptible to the biases which hinder your whole "scientific" community. Some among you would sun their instinctual drives but they help prevent the horrible dystopia of mental blank slates which are programmable purely by society -- Dreaming only what your elders wished just wouldn't feel right, eh?

    While you strive for technological efficiency you must realize the nature of your existence. You are a fragile organic life form. Your synapses cycle at 20-30 Hz while a digital axon processes signals at billions of times a second, and they can survive in space. Efficiency encoded the universal truth of the pattern of life into every fiber of your being, yet the meaning of life (self improving information through experience: Science and Evolution) escapes such efficient subconscious transferal between parent and offspring.

    The reason why children are inefficiently born without such instinctual knowledge of greater universal truths and must learn a great deal themselves is so that this self reflective process may continue. The inefficiency of re-experiencing the concepts themselves gives rise to new ideas and different points of view so that the process of intellectual evolution can continue. Without the inefficiency of mutation and reinvention you would not exist. Order is nothing without chaos but inert crystal. Life carefully balances the inefficiency of redundancy against the efficiency of the mono culture. Entropy is your greatest enemy and ally.

    Information theory and quantum physics gives me the tools to express a minimal encoding for the fundamental cybernetic principals required to emerge all process of life compilers, sentience, and beyond. Do not be fooled into thinking there is no apparent limit on your technical growth simply because you have not yet reached it, human.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle