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SpaceShipOne Captures the X Prize

CmdrTaco posted about 10 years ago | from the takes-two-to-tango dept.

Space 896

SpaceShipOne's second flight was a success, the craft successfully launching from mothership White Knight and returning safely about 20 minutes later. If the flight is certified to have reached the X Prize's target height (62.5 miles) before its safe return, it will win the $10 million purse, and more importantly attain the prestige of repeatably (if only technically) reaching space, on a budget embarrassingly smaller than NASA's. Today's flight was manned by 51-year-old test pilot Brian Binnie (rather than Mike Melvill, who piloted last week's trip), and according to spectators present at both launches seemed even smoother than last week's flight. The view from the sidelines was incredible. flapjack submits a link to CNN's coverage of the launch (which lists a claimed height attained of 368,000 feet), noting "Interesting to note that a majority of its funding ($20-$30 million) was put up by Microsoft's own, Paul Allen." See also the official X Prize site for continuing live coverage. Update: 10/04 17:05 GMT by T : I was able to attend the launch; read below for my short sketch of the event.Impressions from the launch:

I got to Mojave yesterday evening (it's a long way from El Paso), slept in my car, and got to the airfield itself just before 4 a.m. Traffic on state highway 58 was brisk already, though not clogged (which it later became), and nearly every car was turning onto the two-lane entrance heading for acres of packed-dirt parking spaces near the runway from which SpaceShipOne would take off.

The crowd which built up in the following hours was surprisingly quiet on takeoff, which happened right at 7:45 local time. Not exactly hushed -- perhaps "hesitant" is a better word, or maybe just waking up. Only scattered clapping (guilty!) as the White Knight / SpaceShipOne piggyback duo lifted off, followed shortly by two chase planes, an AlphaJet and a Beechcraft Starship. The enthusiasm grew, though, as the flight progressed; a P.A. system kept the spectators informed of the trip's progress.

When SpaceShipOne finally separated and fired upward ("Good release, good release!" over the P.A, followed by enthusiastic cheering), it was after three separate two-minute warnings, then for one-minute and 30-second intervals. After an 84-second burn followed by a clean shutdown, SpaceShipOne coasted to its final altitude. At 90 seconds into the flight, the ship was well past 100,000 feet, and out of sight to the unaided eye. At 7:51, an altitude of 328,000 feet was reported, but the ship was still climbing for the next 40,000 feet under its own momentum. The reported peak altitude is enough to top the previous record, set by an X-15 at 354,200 ft. in 1963.

The descent was happily uneventful. At 60,000 feet, Binnie experienced "slight oscillations" -- consistent with previous flights, according to the announcer, who continued to count down the altitude. At approximately 45,000 feet, the conditions are right for contrails, and more cheering erupted when those popped into view. The crowd perked up and cheered even more with the first of two sonic booms audible on the ground (the booms that occur during ascent aren't), pointing and shading their eyes from the sun, following the ship as it traveled in wide arcs to bleed off the energy of the ascent, followed by a smooth 3-point landing.

(Special thanks to the members of the Foothill High School band who traveled the three hours from Orange County to watch the flight and play both before and after the flight. The launch itself was surprisingly low on ceremony, and their playing provided a bit of well-deserved pomp.)

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Summer Vacation In Outer Space (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 years ago | (#10429629)

Suddenly that old commercial advertisement for a Hilton Hotel in space doesn't sound so wacky anymore. What with Richard Branson investing in the Spaceship One technology for a fleet of commercial spacecraft.

After the first several dignitaries and rich adventurers (and probably pile of useless pop stars and actors/actresses) the thing will probably be booked solid with geeks with telescopes.

i wonder if William Shatner can get me cheap tickets through Priceline...

Re:Summer Vacation In Outer Space (1, Insightful)

cluckshot (658931) | about 10 years ago | (#10429667)

Congratulations to Scaled Composites and their supporters! This is a great day for American Innovation. Finally we start going back to space without the Government keeping us from doing it right.

Re:Summer Vacation In Outer Space (3, Insightful)

darth_MALL (657218) | about 10 years ago | (#10429712)

This is a great day for Human Innovation! Well done lads :)

Re:Summer Vacation In Outer Space (2, Insightful)

JJJ_NL (785776) | about 10 years ago | (#10429668)

You only have to reach low earth orbit to win this prize. To really go to spots where hotels can be built you need to go a lot higher, and that's more difficult too. So space hotels aren't in reach yet.

Re:Summer Vacation In Outer Space (5, Funny)

brainspank (515274) | about 10 years ago | (#10429717)

just hope they don't lose your luggage.

"I'm sorry sir, your bags went to Uranus."

Re:Summer Vacation In Outer Space (5, Funny)

xaqar (112761) | about 10 years ago | (#10429832)

And if you don't find them, my foot is going to Uranus!

Re:Summer Vacation In Outer Space (5, Funny)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | about 10 years ago | (#10429735)

Sounds great, if you want your summer vacation to last about 75 seconds.
Oh, and cost US$200,000
And have a non-trivial chance of killing you

Other than that, I'm totally there dude!

Free gmail invites []

Re:Summer Vacation In Outer Space (3, Funny)

WoodenRobot (726910) | about 10 years ago | (#10429797)

Sounds great, if you want your summer vacation to last about 75 seconds.
Oh, and cost US$200,000
And have a non-trivial chance of killing you

Other than that, I'm totally there dude!

It's space exploration... to the max!!!!1!!!

A little disappointing (4, Insightful)

turg (19864) | about 10 years ago | (#10429633)

That's a bit of a let-down, actually. I was hoping a few more people would have a successful first launch before someone managed to do it twice in two weeks. It would have been a little more dramatic.

What do you think will happen to the other projects? I suppose they must have been funded well enough to not depend on receiving the prize.

Re:A little disappointing (2, Informative)

Nos. (179609) | about 10 years ago | (#10429718)

I know the Canadian daVinci project still intends to launch, even if the prize has already been won. I had planned to attend the Oct 2nd launch since its only a few hours drive from my home, and will try to attend the day they do launch.

Re:A little disappointing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429756)

Considering the general history of tech in the marketplace, the initial leader will not be the eventual winner.

I'm quite sure many shortcuts were taken in order to be first from all parties, with the probablity that the winner took the most.

Thus there is a likliehood that the other contestants have a craft that has more practical uses, and a higher expected liftime.

Re:A little disappointing (4, Informative)

timbloid (208531) | about 10 years ago | (#10429790)

According to this BBC report [] ;
  • "More than two dozen teams around the world are involved in the competition. Many of these teams, realising that SpaceShipOne would in all probability take the X-Prize on Monday, are already setting their sights on orbital flight.

Re:A little disappointing (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 10 years ago | (#10429804)

That's a bit of a let-down, actually. I was hoping a few more people would have a successful first launch before someone managed to do it twice in two weeks. It would have been a little more dramatic.

What we want, also is some competition to spring up. It's nice to see private enterprise accomplish this, comparatively on a shoestring, but like Henry Ford, et al It would be a good to have diversity drive innovation, rather than only one model.

you can have your rocketship in any color you like, as long as it is white

Re:A little disappointing (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 years ago | (#10429806)

yeah and especially it would have been fun if the sub 10 million budget teams would have had time for launch.

pr value and thus sponsorship intrest will go down now for the rest of the teams..

Obvious Microsoft Joke... (0, Flamebait)

romper (47937) | about 10 years ago | (#10429640)

But it's probably a safe bet it doesn't run Windows...

Re:Obvious Microsoft Joke... (1)

khrtt (701691) | about 10 years ago | (#10429741)

Well.. What does it run then? In the cockpit photos you can see the console screen. I couldn't quite make out the start button:-)

Re:Obvious Microsoft Joke... (1)

cluckshot (658931) | about 10 years ago | (#10429745)

Actually it is MANUAL in its controls

328,000 ft in miles (0)

RevDobbs (313888) | about 10 years ago | (#10429642)

328,000 ft in miles []


Re:328,000 ft in miles (1)

sydlexic (563791) | about 10 years ago | (#10429713)

368,000 feet ... NOT 328,000. So they almost hit 70 miles high. Way more than enough.

Re:328,000 ft in miles (2, Funny)

RevDobbs (313888) | about 10 years ago | (#10429842)

368,000 feet ... NOT 328,000. So they almost hit 70 miles high. Way more than enough.


368,000 ft, not 328,000 (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#10429649)

Official X-Prize peak height from first flight []

According to those numbers, the first flight was several kilometers lower than the number given by the Mojave radar. i.e. The X-Prize foundation says that SpaceShipOne only went ~102 km, while the unofficial numbers has said ~117 km. This time SpaceShipOne only went to 368,000 (~102km) according to the unofficial numbers. (CNN said that 328,000 is the cutoff point, not the altitude) Given how much lower that number is, I'm sweating bullets until I get the numbers from the X-Prize foundation.

Re:368,000 ft, not 328,000 (4, Informative)

Jesrad (716567) | about 10 years ago | (#10429714)

According to Google's convertor, 368000 feet is 112 kilometers, not 102.

Besides, 368,000 feet is also higher than the X-15 altitude record (roughly 355,000 feet).

Re:368,000 ft, not 328,000 (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#10429810)

Seems you're right. I must have miskeyed that number when I punched them into Google. That definitely makes me feel a bit better, but with the massive gap between the first unofficial and official numbers, I'm still hanging onto the edge of my seat.

BTW, did anyone else notice that NASA TV didn't cover this flight? It's too bad, because the Ansari X-Prize feed was completely useless. Once people jumped onto the webcast, the poor server just didn't have the bandwidth to keep up.

Re:368,000 ft, not 328,000 (2, Informative)

barawn (25691) | about 10 years ago | (#10429772)

368000 feet is 112 km, not 102 km.

The first flight was 338,000 feet. This one was 30,000 feet (or ~10 km) higher.

They made this one far easier than the one before.

Here is the latest update from FOX News. (0, Troll)

reporter (666905) | about 10 years ago | (#10429774)

Click on this link [] to get the latest update from America's news channel: FOX News.

Binnie has to survive for 24 hours (5, Funny)

Cobalt Jacket (611660) | about 10 years ago | (#10429652)

According to the anyone from the da Vinci know how to win!

Re:Binnie has to survive for 24 hours (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429738)

+5, American will to succeed!

Recalibrating prices (4, Interesting)

kippy (416183) | about 10 years ago | (#10429653)

Now that the Mercury missions have more or less been reproduced for ~$25 million, I'd like to hear some reassessments of modern Moon mission costs. Same for Mars. The media (and a lot of slashdotters by the way) like to come up with estimates which go something like "if Apollo cost $X billion dollars, Mars will cost 10 times that cause it's harder".

Based on the fact that this was an order of magnitude or two cheaper than comparable NASA missions, anyone care to extrapolate a Moon or Mars mission if NASA is just turned into a clearing house for prize money? I'm guessing that Zubrin's crazy estimates of less than $25 billion seem a lot less crazy now.

Re:Recalibrating prices (5, Informative)

Burdell (228580) | about 10 years ago | (#10429777)

This is nothing close to the Mercury missions. Even the first two
sub-orbital Mercury missions went nearly twice as high, and the rest
were all orbital. This is closer to the X-15 project: carried up by a
plane and dropped and then firing a rocket engine to just reach the edge
of space. There is a big difference.

Re:Recalibrating prices (1)

Cobalt Jacket (611660) | about 10 years ago | (#10429780)

This only duplicates Mercury-Redstone. Mercury-Atlas is another matter entirely--let alone Gemini-Titan.

Re:Recalibrating prices (3, Insightful)

ozric99 (162412) | about 10 years ago | (#10429782)

Uhmm, these guys did a job (fantastic though it was) that NASA had already pioneered. I dare say they'd have spent a hell of a lot more cash had they not been following in the footsteps...

correction (1)

ozric99 (162412) | about 10 years ago | (#10429824)

.. and when i say NASA I mean all the countries and agencies involved "way back when".

Re:Recalibrating prices (1)

bobbis.u (703273) | about 10 years ago | (#10429812)

True, but when you consider NASA et al. managed to make the ISS cost $35 billion [] , you can understand why people think Zubrin is crazy.

Anyway, I think the moral of the story is that space flight can be suprisingly cheap once you have removed the cost of politics.

The X-15 (4, Informative)

mykepredko (40154) | about 10 years ago | (#10429821)

I would say that it would be more accurate to say that SS1 reporduced the results of the X-15. What is interesting is that in terms of costs, both efforts cost the $25 Million.

If you assume that a 1960 dollar is worth 4x of what it is today, then SS1 cost 1/4 of the X-15.

Well done Scaled!


Re:Recalibrating prices (5, Interesting)

BigGerman (541312) | about 10 years ago | (#10429838)

>> Now that the Mercury missions have more or less been reproduced...

I knew I would find posting like this one ;-)
No they were not. Early Mercury missions were flying the ballistic trajectory. All the equipment (except the booster) was identical to the later orbital flights. The only different thing to do to a Mercury capsule to go orbital instead of ballistic was to push it harder with a more powerful booster.
As such, SpaceShipOne flights (which go straight up) are NOT sub-orbital in a Mercury sense.

major step (1)

trybywrench (584843) | about 10 years ago | (#10429654)

congrats to all involved, another chapter in space exploration has been opened.

Re:major step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429793)

Pay close attention for the next few days so you don't miss the Vulcan landing.

Burt Rutan (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429658)

Say what you will, but this guy is a true visionary and genius. First the round the world on a tank of gas flight, and now this.

Congrats to Paul Allen as well, for his vision and support.

Old News. (5, Funny)

corngrower (738661) | about 10 years ago | (#10429663)

I was wondering when this news would be making it to slashdot. It's been nearly 15 minutes since I first read about it.

Re:Old News. (4, Funny)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | about 10 years ago | (#10429750)

Always gotta find something to complain about, eh?

At least we got the news today instead of next week. Although we'll probably also get this report next week.

WTF!!?!! (4, Insightful)

geomon (78680) | about 10 years ago | (#10429664)

"budget embarrassingly smaller than NASA's"

Of course Rutan didn't perform any of the fundamental research that lead to the first manned flights, so his efforts are piggy-backing on those of NASA.

What a bullshit comparison.

Re:WTF!!?!! (2, Informative)

MrP- (45616) | about 10 years ago | (#10429730)

Ok so what you're saying is, if you dont count all the money spent on research.. NASA can build a ship like the SpaceShipOne for $25 million?

Hahahahhaa ok

Re:WTF!!?!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429768)

and NASA off Russia ... what's your point?!

Scaled Composites did a HUGE amount of R&D for this, and they didn't need to use $1000 wrenches.

NASA is an inefficient bloated woosie that better get their gears aligned now.

You are an idiot. (0, Troll)

Faust7 (314817) | about 10 years ago | (#10429802)

Of course Rutan didn't perform any of the fundamental research that lead to the first manned flights, so his efforts are piggy-backing on those of NASA.

Besides the fact that SpaceShipOne utilizes a completely different and more efficient aeronautical approach than NASA to reach space, what relevance does your flippant remark even have? We're talking about the budget required to build the thing. Take a look at Scaled Composites' expenditures and then compare then with those of NASA for one damn shuttle launch. Then shut your mouth.

Re:WTF!!?!! (1)

Emugamer (143719) | about 10 years ago | (#10429822)

I think what they were referring to is the cost per flight, in terms of dollars per pound raised. I don't know the budget of either spaceshipone or nasa per launch but I would assume the cost is much less for spaceshipone. Anyone have the numbers to back this up?

I'll be estatic when I see something that can fly 20+ people (what the space shuttle could probably do if it was a passenger vessel) that can be run rather cheaply.

Re:WTF!!?!! (1)

blueZhift (652272) | about 10 years ago | (#10429835)

It's certainly true that these private spaceflight efforts owe a great debt to the pioneering work done by NASA, and I'm sure they realize that too.

While I'm not so wild about seeing yet more goodies going to the ultra rich in the way of joyrides into space, on the whole I think that this trickle down of decades of NASA work into the birth of commercial spaceflight is a good return on our investment. Besides, we poor folks will eventually get our shot at space. Afterall, who's going to serve the drinks and clean the toilets in those orbital hotels? :-)

Watched it live.. (5, Insightful)

kid-noodle (669957) | about 10 years ago | (#10429665)

On the webcast. Wow. I mean really - ok, it isn't the moon landings, but it is one of the more significant things I'm likely to see in my life I think.

I have to say, it brought a tear to my eye when they did it. Yo, America - you guys have something to be proud of today!

A Sour Note. (1, Flamebait)

WillDraven (760005) | about 10 years ago | (#10429671)

"Interesting to note, that a majority of its funding ($20-$30 million) was put up by Microsoft's own, Paul Allen." We cant just be happy about something without having to find a flaw in the whole grand scheme.

Re:A Sour Note. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429721)

Well everyone here seems to be obsessed with anything Microsoft. You would think they would pay more attention to the absurd use of, commas, after all, it is the front page story, editors.

from the edge of youranus (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429672)

FP from the rim job at the black hole

Actually they have not won yet. (4, Funny)

greywar (640908) | about 10 years ago | (#10429679)

The rules say the pilot must land in good health. Good health means surviving 24 hrs after the landing.

Even as we speak Spaceship ones competitors are arranging a hit......

Right on (0)

infowar (802583) | about 10 years ago | (#10429685)

It begins..

Passengers (2, Interesting)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | about 10 years ago | (#10429687)

I thought to win the X-Prize that the team had to launch 3 people into space. Did spaceshipone use the equivilant weight when doing the launches?

Re:Passengers (1)

anvilmark (259376) | about 10 years ago | (#10429781)

Yes, Spaceshipone carried 400 lbs of ballast. This latest trip is was mostly personal effects of the staff involved but I also heard there were some toys for kids.

Re:Passengers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429785)

No, they forgot about that. Duh.

Re:Passengers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429787)

yes. Why put life at risk?

Re:Passengers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429829)


Is it powered by MS technology? (1)

hsmith (818216) | about 10 years ago | (#10429688)

Or were they worried about it crashing? [/obvious] But it is pretty amazing, maybe we will have (somewhat) cheap airfare into space in our life time. Now that would be something cool. Plus it will put down travel time to the opposite side of the globe, instead of 20 hour flights 2 hour flights in sub-orbit, amazing

Obligatory.... (1, Redundant)

AndyBassTbn (789174) | about 10 years ago | (#10429689)

Step 1 - Construct complex private spacecraft. Step 2 - Fly to altitude over 328,000 feet. Step 3 - ?????? Step 4 - Profit!

Re:Obligatory.... (5, Funny)

baywulf (214371) | about 10 years ago | (#10429795)

Step 3: Spend less tha ten million dollars.

Nice (1, Funny) (722366) | about 10 years ago | (#10429690)

Time to get a loan so I can go into space :)

Way to Go Scaled Composites!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429697)


Today is a great day (2, Insightful)

Randolpho (628485) | about 10 years ago | (#10429698)

Today is a great day for space afficionados. We've been rather fed up with NASA's castration for years... it's great that the doorway to space seems to be opening up again.

Next step: orbit [] .

Congratulations to private industry (2, Insightful)

jamie (78724) | about 10 years ago | (#10429699)

Finally private industry has shown it can rocket a man 62 miles straight up and stay there for a couple of minutes! Congratulations! Now all it has to do is send someone to, you know, orbit the globe, and it will have caught up with government-sponsored space flight a third of a century ago [] .

Re:Congratulations to private industry (1)

JohnHegarty (453016) | about 10 years ago | (#10429801)

you seem to forget the

end less pit of money becuase we have to beat the commies


private finance

Figures (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429704)

Private industry outperforms big government yet again. And the Democrats wonder why they're a dying party.

Re:Figures (1, Flamebait)

geomon (78680) | about 10 years ago | (#10429775)

Private industry outperforms big government yet again.

While I agree that the Demopublicans are hardly a great party, tell me which company landed men on the moon.

Oh, that's right - there aren't any.

And which private company launched a human into sub-orbital flight in the 1960's.

Oh, that's right - there aren't any.

The private company that landed probes on nearly all of the closest planets?

Oh, that's right - there aren't any.

I could go on for hours.

Re:Figures (1)

ghostlibrary (450718) | about 10 years ago | (#10429786)

> Private industry outperforms big government yet again.

The irony of someone writing this using the Internet is incredible.

What? No x-prize story? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429706)

what kind of nerd site is this.

PR failure (1)

asadodetira (664509) | about 10 years ago | (#10429708)

Too bad Rutan started boasting and criticizing NASA. He IS obviously an aircraft genius, but I guess he's not a PR genius.

So timely. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 10 years ago | (#10429711)

Yea yea, I read about it on fark at 9:30, and followed it live on CNN until it was over at around 11:15.

Most news organizations try to keep up.

I wonder... (2, Interesting)

LordZardoz (155141) | about 10 years ago | (#10429715)

What will become of the other X-Prize contestants who were on track to make their attempts but did not do so in time?


Microsoft Money does something cool for a change. (4, Interesting)

daviddennis (10926) | about 10 years ago | (#10429719)

Much as I absolutely loathe Microsoft and their products, it's nice to see this kind of cool thing being done.

I just hope these guys didn't use Microsoft Space Management to run the thing, although I have a nasty feeling that they had to :-(.

Well, it worked. And today, that's all that matters. I lift a glass of metaphorical champagne. For today, a truce -- at least until I see my next Windows meltdown here on the ground.

(Come to think of it, though, I believe Paul Allen has very little to do with Microsoft nowadays -- right?)


extra weight (4, Funny)

kippy (416183) | about 10 years ago | (#10429725)

I'm wondering what took up the extra mass to account for a 3 person flight. Did they have to take up extra stuff or did the weight of the pilot's 200 pound testicles suffice?

Not yet... (1)

brunson (91995) | about 10 years ago | (#10429726)

Technically, under FAI rules, the pilot has to survive for 24 hours to be deemed "in good health".

Budget embarressingly smaller? (5, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 10 years ago | (#10429729)

Its also a hell of a lot later than when NASA did the same, with technology that is more widespread and cheaper to boot. When NASA did their shots, it had to invent pretty much all of the technology, whereas Scaled Composites had the benefit of all the public knowledge now available about space travel. Not to put a cloud on this success, but come on guys, comparing it to NASA and saying its much cheaper just isnt fair.

Video from first launch attempt (2, Informative)

tmacd (761305) | about 10 years ago | (#10429732)

I put together the footage I took at the last launch attempt into a video on my homepage. []

The music is from the very cool band ZIA. [] The lead singer/songwriter was at the launch this morning. (Lucky woman!)

now today will forever be a dual anniversary (4, Funny)

WormholeFiend (674934) | about 10 years ago | (#10429734)

Shared by Sputnik and SpaceShipOne.

Soviet Russia and Capitalist America, forever entwined by space history.

Microsoft financial support (1)

elhaf (755704) | about 10 years ago | (#10429743)

I think it's time to start the open source spaceship project.

Rutan celebrates -has squirrels surgically removed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429746)

in 3hr plastic surgery

budget embarrassingly smaller than NASA's (5, Insightful)

mscalora (226843) | about 10 years ago | (#10429747)

>...repeatably (if only technically) reaching space, on a on a budget
>embarrassingly smaller than NASA's.

Let's see them reach orbital velocity and then I'll be impressed by the budget difference.

It is not that I am unimpressed by the flight, but I'm not really impressed by comparing the budgets of two totally different projects with totally different goals.

Re:budget embarrassingly smaller than NASA's (1)

MrP- (45616) | about 10 years ago | (#10429817)

I dont get your point.. the goal of this mission wasnt to reach orbital velocity.. dont compare spaceshipone to oribital flights, compare it to sub-orbital flights.. and what do you get? $25m vs. billions

It's still cheaper than NASA, and i'm sure the orbital flights will be cheaper also

Still a ways to go (1)

Stripsurge (162174) | about 10 years ago | (#10429751)

"The craft rolled nearly 30 times in an unplanned manner as it shot faster than a bullet out of Earth's atmosphere."

Sounds like a bug or two needs to be worked out still. Anybody know what kind of safety standards a ship would have to pass before allowing civillians and who would set those standards?

Shwaaa? (5, Interesting)

GodHead (101109) | about 10 years ago | (#10429752)

"prestige of repeatably (if only technically) reaching space"

That is the point - to 'technically" do it. Sure the X-prize is won, but like a first in anything this is a starting point not a finish line.

I'm sure more technically minded will discuss practial applications and new limits to be beaten. But I'm glad I was here to "witness" this. I imagine in 100 years when people will talk about this like they talk about kittyhawk now.

I'm going for the Y Prize! (1)

burgburgburg (574866) | about 10 years ago | (#10429758)


Now where the hell is Martin Short?

Thanks X-Prize (2, Interesting)

Dethboy (136650) | about 10 years ago | (#10429760)

I grew up in the 70's dreaming of being an astronaut and going into space. That dream of course crumbed along with NASA.

Now at least my children can have that dream again.

It's one small step for man, (1)

d_jedi (773213) | about 10 years ago | (#10429761)

One giant leap for mankind..

Can't wait until this actually becomes remotely affordable so I can see the Earth the way the astronauts do.

X prize 2? (1)

lawngnome (573912) | about 10 years ago | (#10429763)

They need to step up the challenge, so now we know we can have private commercial spacecraft, where would we go? They need to make a second xprize to launch a private space station :)

W00t! (2, Insightful)

jbltk (801038) | about 10 years ago | (#10429767)

This is truly a great achievement, and congratulation to the winning team.

That being said, I keep hearing and seeing people remark about how this somehow embarasses NASA or proves the "wonders of the private sector". I feel that the people making these comments (including the submitter/editor of this story) fail to realize that, without NASA's taxpayer funded contribution over the span of its existence, what they did this morning would not have been possible at this point. The private sector was able to accomplish this on such a budget because of innovations by NASA that brought this technology out in the first place.

Beat the X15 (0, Redundant)

tinrobot (314936) | about 10 years ago | (#10429771)

Apparently, Space Ship One also beat the altitude record set by the X15 almost 40 years ago.

next stop: orbit (2, Insightful)

Peter La Casse (3992) | about 10 years ago | (#10429773)

The next step is to achieve orbit. If that can be done as inexpensively as SpaceshipOne, then all sorts of space-related activities will benefit.

This is an exciting time to be alive.

This Space Available (2, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 10 years ago | (#10429779)

NASA does a lot more with its budget than "only technically" reaching orbit. And despite a few tragic "early terminated" missions, its safety record is extremely high, especially compared to its competition. And the amount of science it has released into the public domain has been vast, and nearly inestimable. We'll see how well you and I benefit from the privatization of spaceflight. I'm filing my preemptive patent on "extraterrestrial birth" now, while supplies still last.

And incidentally, it's been a long time since Paul Allen was "Microsoft's own" - as a major shareholder not employed at the company for decades, it's more like Microsoft is Paul Allen's own, to some degree. More appropriate is to say that the money invested in winning the X-Prize was "our own" before we paid the Microsoft tax.

A cheaper approach? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429784)

After the wonderful success of the X-prize, I have to wonder if it would be cheaper for NASA to start sponsoring some of these?

Like an orbital shuttle, a private moon program and a manned landing on Mars? Heck, even a robotic one.

It seems like all of these could be done for a fraction of the cost to the US Taxpayer.

I doubt it would happen, as it would impinge on NASA's turf.

Holy shit... (2, Funny)

maxchaote (796339) | about 10 years ago | (#10429816)

There's actually going to be a company called "Virgin Galactic" in my lifetime.

Cue Elton John! (1)

d_jedi (773213) | about 10 years ago | (#10429826)

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time
till touchdown brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at all oh no, no, no


(Sorry.. that was the first thing that came to mind.. )

Interesting to note (1)

stratjakt (596332) | about 10 years ago | (#10429828)

That Paul Allen put up some money?

How is that interesting, other than /. fagbots have to flame anything that involves anyone that's involved with Microsoft?

What's interesting is that these guys went to space. Whether Carmack, Allen, Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey put up the bucks is irrelevant.

Great job scaled composites! (4, Interesting)

hackstraw (262471) | about 10 years ago | (#10429837)

This is an amazing feat. Definitely one of the top 5 space events in my lifetime. I do have a beef with the article summary though. This part:

it will win the $10 million purse, and more importantly attain the prestige of repeatably (if only technically) reaching space, on a budget embarrassingly smaller than NASA's

Although this is a great feat for a privately funded venture. This is only equivalent to NASA's first manned suborbital flight which happened in 1961. NASA has still put many people in space for extended periods of time, including 12 manned flights to the moon. And for all practical purposes, NASA started this adventure with no prior experience or knowledge of space flight. Also, a good portion of NASA's budget is for the first "A" in the acronym.

Again, this is a great feat, and its a first, but this is only the very beginning of private space flight.

WTG Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10429841)

I, along with many other people im sure, were watching the live feed. That is until 10 minutes ago when it was posted on slashdot.

How about next time the editors exercising some judgement and NOT posting once-in-a-lifetime live events when you KNOW they will get slashdotted?
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