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Spaceship One


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Radar data indicate that SS1 just successfully reached space again, in the process breaking the old X-15's altitude record for an air-launched rocket plane. There was some scary trouble (collapsed bulkhead, I heard) on the way up, resulting in what looked like uncontrolled rolling.


Successful glide back to Earth, though.


if they can do this with two passengers twice within two weeks, the X Prize is theirs.

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yeah, this roll thing has got to get beat. twice in a row!!


but I'm excited. I think that the X-Prize will indeed be claimed by the Scaled Composites team w/in the next 13 days.


After that, I expect them to get busy workin on the controls. They need to figger this thing out before they build the 5 passenger version for Virgin Galactic.


Supposedly they need to get the first ship ("VSS Enterprise") built in 3 years...so the design thing has to be beat right away.


Then they can work on the $50 million prize for launching a ship into a true orbit. Ten years to private, relatively-cheap orbiting vehicles!!




If only the x-prize had been offered 25 years ago instead of 10....


Of course, I believe the Elevator is going to be the real future, even if Scaled Composites & their peers can get up to orbital velocities...

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The CNN story above twice referred to today's flight as the first of two to claim the X Prize. It wasn't, though, was it? There were no passengers aboard, and there was no mention of an equivalent weight which would have qualified.




Are these guys really days away from carrying passengers?


Of course, I believe the Elevator is going to be the real future, even if Scaled Composites & their peers can get up to orbital velocities...


Not until they can get those monks off the tippy-top of Taprobane...

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as was stated earlier, this was an official test.


The roll was of unknown origin, but was apparently no more dangerous than a controlled roll. It might have started through wind shear or possibly through an inadvertantly large nudge of the controls...


but there is NO major control problem.


The pilot felt he could have taken it up another 25000 feat, but the ground controllers ordered him to shut off the burn as a precaution.


Nonetheless, he was thousands of feet above the threshhold of space, even according to the official monitoring equipment of Ansari X-prize officials.




Let's take the bets now - i'm sure many of us will still be here 10 years from now when the new prize expires:


Bigelow Aerospace, is apparently setting higher goals for private spaceflight endeavors with America's Space Prize, a $50 million race to build an orbital vehicle capable of carrying up to seven astronauts to an orbital outpost by the end of the decade.


I'm not sure whether that means Dec. 31 2009, Dec 31 2010, or maybe Sep 27 2014.


Depends on your definition of "the decade". I have found that with new reports like this, even responsible reporters can get confused. So they use semi-ambiguous phrases.


Still, I think that they mean the first one, 31/12/2009.


Who thinks that a privately launched craft can attain full orbit - and can survive reentry! - by the end of 2009?


by the end of 2010?


before October 2014?


or, of course, who thinks this is so far out there that no one can accurately predict the time frame?


Me, personally, I'm betting on the 2012-2013 time frame. I don't think they can do it before the end of the decade, but I definitely think they can handily beat the 10/2014 deadline.


So lay it on the line everybody:


What's your prediction??


and once you've got that, tell me this:


What kinds of boost stage will it use (if any) and what kind of engine/propulsion will it use for the orbital insertion stage?


I'll bet a LOT of money that they won't be the same engine...but one of these days, we will have an engine that can function as both a rocket and a scramjet. That'll be exciting as all get-out.


Okay, so back to the question at hand:


When will this prize be won (7 people orbiting at min. 100 miles, safely reentering but including the technological capability of docking with another vehicle/ station while in orbit)?


AND what engines/propulsion will it use??

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The closest I have come to rocket propulsion science was tying bottle rockets to things as a kid (okay I'll be honest...last July) and watching them blow up. BTW< whiffle ball bats make a great launching pad, use the hole at the bottom of the handle to hold a stick in. So Unless they use several billion Black Cats, I'm no use in making an intelligent prediction.


So here is my completely unintelligible one:

Some crazy crackpot scientist out in the mountains will come into contact with spacefaring people of the future. They will help him create a space drive that will alert another spacefaring race of hyperintelligent beings to humanity's technological progress, thus ushering in a grand period of space exploration.









:ph34r: <Secretly hopes no one remembers this Star Trek plot...> :ph34r:

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I saw it this last morning before I whent to bed when I turned on CNN. When the journalist asked the pilot some questions he said he tought he had accedently stepped on something with his foot. The controlls are apperently very primitive but works like some of the very earliest planed with levers and such.


And that got the roll started they said they werent that concerned because when the roll started they were so far up that the atmosphere was very thin.



I think its so cool Power to people. What they have managed to do so far must be a bit embarrising to Nasa with their huge budget.

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On the roll, the following is from the pilot Mike Melvill:


he said the craft had surprised him with its "little victory roll", and he had shut down the engines 11 seconds prematurely as a result.


"Did I plan the roll? I'd like to say I did but I didn't," Melvill explained.


"You're extremely busy at that point. Probably I stepped on something too quickly and caused the roll but it's nice to do a roll at the top of the climb."

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What's your prediction??

This is going to sound awfully pessimistic, but....




The US$50 million won't begin to pay back the development costs necessary to support a ground-to-orbit launch facility, and despite all the glowing talk of space tourism, I don't think there's much reason for private companies to want to reach orbit on their own. NASA and the ESA are perfectly capable of doing that work. Resources worth going to get all lie much farther out, anyway--unless we're talking about micro-gravity, useful in developing the finest, purest and astronomically-expensive (literally) crystals.


We can barely keep domestic airlines running. I don't think there's a sustainable industry in space travel for its own sake.


The kind of economic effort (in terms of GDP) necessary to reach Mars is not something the US can begin to afford now, particularly in an era of eternal warfare, as our utter lack of movement on the project shows. over the next few decades, as the petroleum economy collapses, we will be busy trying to khold a civilization together, and won't be looking beyond the atmosphere for our salvation. Unless the terrorists put a man on the moon, of course; then we'd go haring off after them, and hang the human and economic cost.


LEO, already a dangerous environment due to solar and cosmic radiation, is becoming more and more polluted with space junk easily capable of punching holes in anything we can put aloft. If we're going to live in space, it'll have to be much farther out, and behind what may be prohibitively-expensive shielding (now, burrow into asteroids, or beneath the lunar or martian surfaces, and then we'll talk--but we could do that here at home).


Unless we can develop a warp drive and make it fast and cheap enough to move a significant fraction of the world's billions to other habitable worlds, I don't think that there's much out there for us beyond pure knowledge--an object in which our government and corporations no longer believe, and therefore will not pursue.


As much as I'd love to be proven wrong on any of this, and as incredibly kewl as I think space travel is, I think that significant accomplishments in space are out of the reach of private agencies.


But go ahead: astonish me.

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I think you have a fairly accurate analysis in many respects, and tho' I might quibble with a point or two, instead...let's just let them stand with the exception of allowing me to add one:


We now have billionaires looking for hobbies that will make them more famous than just being rich can.


it will be interesting to see how that alters your equation.

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