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Virgin Galactic Unveils SpaceShipTwo

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the slashdot-accepting-evaluation-tickets dept.

Space 260

RobGoldsmith writes to tell us that Virgin Galactic has unveiled their latest take on manned space travel for the immediate future: SpaceShipTwo. The craft comes complete with matching mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, and will be officially unveiled today in the Mojave Desert just after dark. "Subject to certain US regulatory requirements that will guide the unveiling, SS2 will be attached to her WK2 mothership which was last year unveiled and named EVE after Sir Richard Branson's mother. In the future, WK2 will carry SS2 to above 50,000 feet (16 kilometers) before the spaceship is dropped and fires her rocket motor to launch into space from that altitude. In honor of a long tradition of using the word Enterprise in the naming of Royal Navy, US Navy, NASA vehicles and even science fiction spacecraft, Governor Schwarzenegger of California and Governor Richardson of New Mexico will today christen SS2 with the name Virgin Space Ship (VSS) ENTERPRISE. This represents not only an acknowledgment to that name’s honorable past but also looks to the future of the role of private enterprise in the development of the exploration, industrialization and human habitation of space."

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First Ship! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30356450)

Virgins in Space... new movie from Pr0n R Us, Inc.

Re:First Ship! (4, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356902)

You're right, Virgin Space Ship does indeed make the 40 year old geeky technicians sound bad.

Whodathunk (5, Interesting)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356474)

That the guy that I guess history will say started commercial space flight for real, owned a company that used to sell cassettes and records.

Re:Whodathunk (5, Insightful)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356558)

What did Henry Ford do before he changed everything?

Re:Whodathunk (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356742)

He worked as a machinist... That's at least somewhat the same as inventing the car.

From audio to spaceflight is completely different jump.

Re:Whodathunk (5, Funny)

FMZ (1178473) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357012)

You have obviously never listened to Pink Floyd after smoking marijuana.

Re:Whodathunk (1)

longhairedgnome (610579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357266)

Touché

Re:Whodathunk (2, Informative)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357322)

Henry ford did not invent the car. Assembly line way of building the cars, yes.

Re:Whodathunk (2, Interesting)

drakaan (688386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357702)

...are we saying that Branson invented the spaceship?. The analogy seems apt to me. Virgin may well be the first company to make strides in mass-produced spacecraft. Only time will tell.

Re:Whodathunk (4, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356754)

    Well...

    * Hobbyist watch repairs as a teenager.
    * Machinist in Detroit.
    * Steam engine repairs for Westinghouse.
    * Engineer at Edison Illuminating Company (promoted to chief engineer)

    Kinda sounds like the type of guy who could build a car. :) Not that I like Fords though, I prefer GM vehicles. :)

Re:Whodathunk (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356834)

He failed at making cars, before he succeeded. He didnt do much else.. just cars.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Ford [wikipedia.org]

Re:Whodathunk (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357218)

I don't believe the absence of information on Wikipedia means what you think it means.

Re:Whodathunk (0, Offtopic)

voodoowizard (1557839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357104)

Machinist, then an engineer from what I can tell. The things you might expect. I got Ford and the history of the Daisy BB gun confused. Buy a wind mill get a free air rifle. Sometimes Coffee is a better choice than beer.

Re:Whodathunk (3, Insightful)

caseih (160668) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357026)

Not really. It's just a glorified vomit comet with some spectacular views. The real pioneers in commercial space flight are companies like Space-X who are very close to having launch capacity capable of being man-rated for orbital flight! We probably should cancel the Aries launch system and instead partner with Space-X.

In the meantime, Virgin Galactic or whatever it is called is just a glorified thrill ride that does nothing to advance real commercial space flight.

Re:Whodathunk (4, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357258)

It'll probably make it 130km in the air so it isn't a normal plane ride... (Which do like 12k). It advances different parts of it. Just because it isn't about to do a moon landing doesn't mean it isn't valuable.

They seem to have a fairly elegant launch system and a VERY elegant landing system. I'm sure they have other advances as well.

Now of course the patent system will kill any chances of this being used. And people are often to prideful to not reinvent the wheel half the time anyways. (It'd be neat to see the US license some russian tech rather than spend billions re-figuring shit out)

Re:Whodathunk (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357268)

It costs $20 million dollars to fly to orbit right now. With new technology from companies like Space-X the price could come down, but will this happen before the supply of millionaires dries up? There is more demand at the $200 000 price point. Demand is needed to drive research.

Re:Whodathunk (2, Interesting)

geckipede (1261408) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357408)

Part of the Augustine Comission report on NASA's future covered guaranteed contracts for private space firms. ISS resupply will be a reliable source of business until the station is scrapped. Past that time it's hard to predict what will happen, but one idea was for NASA to put up an orbital fuel storage depot that would be refilled by private launches, again on a guaranteed contract system.

Re:Whodathunk (5, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357330)

Not really. It's just a glorified vomit comet with some spectacular views. The real pioneers in commercial space flight are companies like Space-X who are very close to having launch capacity capable of being man-rated for orbital flight! We probably should cancel the Aries launch system and instead partner with Space-X.

In the meantime, Virgin Galactic or whatever it is called is just a glorified thrill ride that does nothing to advance real commercial space flight.

NASA didn't build the Saturn V as the very first project out the gate. While they had no mission to turn a profit on the venture, they broke the development up into tiny steps to make sure nothing went wrong. Virgin Galactic has to turn a profit. The first system was proof of concept. The second system here is about making money. You do realize that there will be a SpaceShipThree, Four, Five, etc, so long as the business remains profitable?

This is not a zero-sum game. Space-X can compete building unmanned rockets. They're getting pretty good at it. Rutan and crew can concentrate on putting the people up there. SpaceShipOne was not a vomit comet, it was like the Redstone suborbital launch. SpaceShipTwo is the same with paying passengers. Three or Four will probably make the step of getting into a proper orbit.

Re:Whodathunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357636)

I totally agree. That is similar to the contributions the p0rn industry has made to the internet. Oh wait...

Isn't he supposed to be broke?!? (3, Funny)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357126)

That the guy that I guess history will say started commercial space flight for real, owned a company that used to sell cassettes and records.

Yeah, but what really makes me wonder is how did he afford it? I thought everyone went bankrupt after the "collapse" of the Recording and Movie industry? At least that's what the MPAA and RIAA said.

I hear Bill gates isn't doing too well either, according to the BSA. He's a couple dozen pirated Win7 keys away from begging on a street corner I hear.../p

Oh my (5, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357418)

Gods that's a beautiful spaceship. I will toast their success with fine wine.

This is exactly the sort of thing that got me interested in science as a young boy. Granted that was in the day of Von Braun and Willey Ley and Chesley Bonestell (yes I am that old) but the Universe wrote large in my imagination back then, and I wanted something more than cars that tried to look like airplanes. I wanted the stars. There is nothing as hungry as the imagination of the young.

I was fortunate to work for NASA for a short while in my career, writing software for the Pioneer spacecraft. I've gone on a bit since then, still in the IT industry and laid a lot of networks. But nothing compares with having been lucky enough to work on something that fired my imagination as a boy.

Did I mention that's a beautiful spaceship? If form follows function, then something with that form has to be awfully functional.

There's our Orient Express, people. It's a short step from tourists to passengers.

I salute you, Sir Richard.

It's ugly but it's the future of space exploration (4, Insightful)

Xeoz (1648225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356502)

As much as I love NASA and the space program, it is time to private companies to start building an industry out of it. Only when private companies find profits in space will we see real progress. Unfortunately, no one has thought of a way to make money off of it yet. Other than insanely rich tourists.

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (1)

Lallander (968402) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356544)

It won't be long before we are strip mining Mars, don't worry.

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357096)

Well, I guess I better get my ass to mars.

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357154)

Nah - colonise mars - (got to be at least a class 4 planet, (GalcivII)) - strip mine the moon and asteroids instead...

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30356628)

I doubt that true exploration will ever be done privately. There's no money to be made that way.

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (4, Insightful)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356708)

I doubt that true exploration will ever be done privately. There's no money to be made that way.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Gold_Rush [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klondike_Gold_Rush [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bend_Gold_Rush [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayoosh_Gold_Rush [wikipedia.org]

...etc.

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356782)

there's gold on that thar Mars?!!! </2049'er>

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (1)

Xeoz (1648225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356920)

I think if large deposits of easily mined gold were discovered on mars then there would be a hell of a lot more interest in getting there. The logistics still do not exist, but at least people would start really working on solutions. Which would be a big improvement, right now space travel is viewed as a novelty. Make it something useful and productive and we'll see huge advancements in short periods of time.

Nevermind the gold (2, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356994)

We've got excess gold on Earth. That's why most of it is in vaults. What about something useful like uranium? How much of that is in asteroids? If we could get over the nuclear jitters, then having a rock full of uranium and/or deposits on Mars would be a great thing. That and water of course, but don't comets supply plenty of water? Snagging resources from low-gravity bodies seems like the first potentially profitable venture in planetary space.

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (2, Insightful)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357004)

The problem with GOLD is that if you had a huge gold nugget sitting in space, some have said it wouldn't be worth the cost of de-orbiting it. Not to mention what it would do to the precious metals markets to have tons of gold dumped on the market.

In this instance you need something with worthwhile industrial uses, not just novelty or scarcity driving the prices.

This is why I brought up the helium3 in another part of this thread, its useful in Nuclear Fusion, apparently in Medical imaging, and other stuff. Its currently worth $20,000 per pound.

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357108)

How do you weigh helium????

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (2, Funny)

Code Master (164951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357326)

By vocal frequency offset.

I'd like 1 kHz worth please.

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357474)

Seriously? Well, on the moon, without any atmosphere, you could use a scale. Otherwise you could use the Idea Gas Law [wikipedia.org]

Vespene Gas Stations (1)

ikedasquid (1177957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357356)

Gold? Gold is so yesterday. Minerals and vespene gas is what we should really be looking for up there. Everyone knows you can't build any spacecraft without vespene gas!

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (1)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356840)

There's enough stuff in a single nickel iron asteroid to keep the earth supplies for centuries.

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (3, Funny)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357066)

yep, delivery is scheduled for 2012....or if nobody's home delivery is rescheduled for 2029 [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357324)

Osht 2012!

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (2, Funny)

maczealot (864883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356916)

Don't forget the Garlic Bubble! [npr.org]

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357240)

Martian rust rush...

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356804)

I doubt that true exploration will ever be done privately. There's no money to be made that way.

What? You might want to tell that to the whole computer technology and pharmaceutical industry. Or pretty much every other industry. They're always exploring new ways to generate income.

Of course, currently real space exploration (as in, space shuttles flying to see different places) is still too costly and we don't have the necessary technology yet. But it's being developed.

You never know what kind new energy source or other rich things you will find from these pretty much infinite number of planets. When possible return on investment comes to acceptable levels, you can be sure there will be tons of people trying to get rich that way. It's a real goldmine, almost completely unexplored area.

the rich have a tendency of footing the (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356750)

development bill. There seems to always be a sufficient number of them who are free with their money to get new modes of travel off the ground (no pun intended)

Time is one commodity which for some has a lot of value. In the current incarnation SS2 and such are simple frivolity but the questions becomes, how can this be extended to get somewhere else on the globe is a shortened amount of time? Granted in this day of video conferencing and such the need to be there isn't as great.

Carrying people up is neat, carry them from point to point faster is something that has value too. Yeah, the cost is more than its value but further development would bring it down to where it would fit within "exceptional need"

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (2, Interesting)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356838)

Well as a recent Slashdot story told, Helium3 just hit $20,000 per pound, the moon has plenty of it. The Rare Earth metals that China is hording are likely plentiful in the Near Earth Objects.

For each mining venture, you send up a module with two units inside with two solar arrays, a VASIMR drive gets them out to the resources. Unload the mining-module and attach the VASIMR to the transport module, the miner makes ingots which the transporter takes from the mine to LEO, and back. Possibly the VASIMR is always attached to the transporter, and the miner is berthed inside its cargo bay for the first trip.

My two oddest notions here are using mechanical gecko feet to attach the miner to an asteroid, and then using cutting lasers to make oblique cuts into an asteroid producing cones of ore, and footholds for itself at the same time.

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357458)

The problem with VASIMR is that it's way too complicated for what you get: an engine which varies between "inefficient, and not enough thrust to do anything with minimum thrust requirements" and "moderately efficient, with much less thrust"

If you want to get off planet, VASIMR does you no good. You need Chemical or nuclear rockets, and nuclear rockets aren't clean enough to use on a populated planet.

The problem with 3He, though, is that that the price is high, but the demand is low. Nothing about collecting it from the moon (which doesn't have much of it at all, just higher concentration than the earth's crust, which would be useful if we weren't getting the current supply from natural gas pockets....) will increase the demand for it in the near-term. Maybe in fifty or a hundred years if fusion becomes practical and just can't be done with more available isotopes, but i've got my money on "we realize that fission is more than enough for the next fifty-thousand years, so fusion research will have plenty of time to figure out how to use elements we have in abundance on the ground"

You want commercial space? Bring costs down. That's it. Getting stuff into space is so ridiculously expensive that communications companies are talking about using airships and solar-powered drones instead of satellites for many purposes.

Re:It's ugly but it's the future of space explorat (2, Interesting)

drgould (24404) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356846)

Unfortunately, no one has thought of a way to make money off of it yet. Other than insanely rich tourists.

...RIGHT NOW at least. If "insanely rich tourists" are willing to pay to drive down the price of the technology so that I can afford it in 20 years (and all the other benefits that cheap access to space can offer), I'm all for that.

Hell of a lot better use of their money than the government taxing them and giving it to Al Gore in exchange for carbon credits.

Shortage of customers? I think not. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357174)

...Unfortunately, no one has thought of a way to make money off of it yet. Other than insanely rich tourists.

Yes, and if you're wondering where you can find any of those "insanely rich tourists" for your customer base, ah, the line forms to the left...

Smart billionaires tend to at least try and see if there's a customer base out there before starting something like this. REALLY smart billionaires ask for deposits years ago and enjoy the compounding interest.

That's cool, but... (4, Funny)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356518)

The display on NCC-1701x that shows several ships and a Space Shuttle prototype is now inaccurate... unless Gary Seven sabotages the Virgin craft... hmmm....

Re:That's cool, but... (1)

Da Cheez (1069822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356562)

No, the display is not necessarily an exhaustive list of ALL things named Enterprise. Although who knows why they picked the shuttle prototype instead of SS2....

Re:That's cool, but... (1)

Nebulious (1241096) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356664)

Weeeeeeeeeell, the the Star Trek timeline really diverges from ours drastically from this point. By now we're supposed to have driven Khan into space after the Eugenics Wars which devastated the world and be on the way to WWIII. You could say that the path is very different now.

Re:That's cool, but... (2, Funny)

IndigoDarkwolf (752210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356760)

blah blah blah driven Khan into space blah blah blah

Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan~!

Re:That's cool, but... (3, Funny)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356812)

You mean you haven't caught on yet ?

This is the mirror universe!

Long live the Terran Empire! Long live the Emperor!

Re:That's cool, but... (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357340)

Blood for the blood god, skulls for the skull throne

Re:That's cool, but... (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356882)

Khan was supposed to rule the world in the 1990s, instead of Kahn in 1996 we got a second term for Bill Clinton.

I remember Picard and Riker bumper stickers back then and thought they truly lacked the imagination of the superior intellect party.

Ethnic cleansing happened in the 1990s (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356974)

the Eugenics Wars which devastated the world

You mean the Yugoslav eugenics wars [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:That's cool, but... (1)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356978)

That fact certainly isn't on the history tapes.

Enterprise, sure! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30356542)

In honor of a long tradition of using the word Enterprise in the naming of Royal Navy, US Navy, NASA vehicles and even science fiction spacecraft, Governor Schwarzenegger of California and Governor Richardson of New Mexico will today christen SS2 with the name Virgin Space Ship (VSS) ENTERPRISE.

Oh, come on. We all know why they really named it that.

Re:Enterprise, sure! (4, Funny)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356690)

Space...The final frontier to make money. These are the Voyages of the VSS Enterprise...it's 30-minute a week mission to make orbital space as much of a tourist destination as the Carribean...

Re:Enterprise, sure! (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356878)

.it's 30-minute a week mission to make suborbital space as much of a tourist destination as the Carribean..

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Enterprise, sure! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357686)

Can MTV do a Real World Outer Space, where we shoot 20 or so of their typical douchebags into space and dump them into hard vacuum? I'd pay to see that...

"OMG, I can't breathe! Let me twitter about it... BOOM!"

Re:Enterprise, sure! (5, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356784)

It is worse than that. The shuttle Enterprise was explicitly named with the USS Enteprise as a spaceship in mind. To confuse matters even more, there have now been official references in Star Trek books and other material to the shuttle Enteprise as the first spaceship of that name. So in the Star Trek universe, the Enterprise shuttle existed but wasn't named after the fictional Enterprise (because Star Trek wasn't a television show in the Star Trek universe). Have a headache yet?

Re:Enterprise, sure! (2, Insightful)

DwySteve (521303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357530)

Naming it Enterprise doesn't give me a headache. I can buy naming just about anything Enterprise because there is a tradition of the name (obviously the original starship Enterprise wasnt' named after itself!). What gives me the headache is that this supposed 'spaceship' in the Star Trek universe never went into space [wikipedia.org] (in our universe at least...).

Re:Enterprise, sure! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30356904)

They really like Microsoft Visual SourceSafe?

Good God, I hope that isn't it...

How much for hte tickets (2, Insightful)

OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356584)

Have they release any sort of flight prices to the public or we can all assume right now the flight cost would be completely out of the range of the general population.

Re:How much for hte tickets (3, Informative)

joeytmann (664434) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356640)

I thought the intial flights would be $200K US per seat...or somewhere there abouts. I can't remember where I saw that so I'm probably wrong.

Re:How much for hte tickets (3, Informative)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356668)

About $200k per seat. Much like aviation's early days, when air travel was reserved for the wealthy. Give it a few decades and some healthy competition, and the price will come down by an order of magnitude or more. Right now, there's enough customers at that price point to serve the market for years given three or four operating vehicles.

Re:How much for hte tickets (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357230)

As soon as they're running regular flights I would imagine several other companies will be able to get funding to build their own SS2 clone(s). It wouldn't suprise me to see the price drop to $10,000 or $15,000 by 2025 or so -- $10,000 is what most parents spend on their kid's first (used) car in wealthy suburbs of Dallas, Houston and I would presume other cities like NYC and Chicago. At least a few of them spend that much on their yearly vacation(s). There's easily 100x the number of people who would go into space for 90 minutes for $10,000 as there are those who could afford a $200k trip, especially if they save for two or three years for it.

Left seat? (1, Interesting)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356648)

Looking at the design of the plane, I see what looks like two cockpits on either side of the plane. Now, is this to pacify the pilots so that both are flying left seat or is it to bust the union so that both are flying right seat and therefore neither is pilot in command and therefore isn't entitled to captain's pay.

Just wondering.

No, it couldn't be a design feature to carry that little rocket plane.

Re:Left seat? (2, Interesting)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356752)

From what I understand, the White Knight II cockpits act as a simulator for the space ship, with the cockpits being identical between mothership and spaceship. One cockpit flies the plane, the other acts as a simulator. I am guessing both can fly the plane in case of emergency.

Re:Left seat? (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356950)

Ah.

I was also thinking that the pilots are brothers and their parents told them : "(pointing to the first son)You get that side of the plane and you (pointing to the other kid) get that side of the plane and you will stay there or so help me!"

Re:Left seat? (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356914)

I thought one of them was supposed to be for 'observers' tourists that don't have $200k and want to do something spacy, but have already spent the $3k for the Vomit Comet and want something new.

A rerun in the making... (1)

MrSenile (759314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356688)

SpaceShip2 will be rechristened to Jupiter2 once the new drive system is installed.

A family has volunteered for the first manned flight. The child appears to own a Robosapien named 'Robot'.

They're still waiting for the paranoid sociopathic doctor who is expected to arrive shortly...

Re:A rerun in the making... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357492)

And we'll spend years wondering why they don't just maroon said sociopathic doctor on the next planet they come to.

The last paragraph sums up the failure. (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356718)

Seriously, read it. It makes it sound like the scene from the James Bond movie that has Madonna in it. What part of this smells profit? None. It's nothing but a bunch of rich people throwing money around to impress each other. Eventually you run out of rich people willing to subsidize. And that will happen pretty quickly after the first 2 go up and it loses its appeal. Spending gobs of money to be the 30+ person to use it quickly loses its luster.

Re:The last paragraph sums up the failure. (1)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356890)

There is elasticity in the market. The price has a lot of room to come down. As mentioned in another post, there is enough demand at the $200,000 price point to last quite a while; not everybody cares about being first.

If there are several people per year willing to pay $30mil to go to the ISS for a week, there are a whole hell of a lot more willing and able to pay $200k for a quick jaunt with the view of a lifetime.

Re:The last paragraph sums up the failure. (1)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357040)

Also, you might want to have a look at the latest Futron Study [futron.com] ...Check out this article [parabolicarc.com] if you don't want to give out your info to download the study itself.

Might be taken more seriously if... (-1, Troll)

ex_ottoyuhr (607701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356728)

This might be taken more seriously, or at least might seem less silly to non-fanatics, if they weren't naming their spaceships for popular SF vehicles. What's next, the VSS Falcon? VSS Serenity? (Oh, wait, NASA did that one.) VSS Galactica? (Although I would object a bit less to a VSS Ebon Hawk or a VSS Marvelous Dragonfly, as at that point they'd obviously not be trying to hide it.)

And, heck, might this mothership's name have originally had an "Online" at the end of it? (We'll know that's a yes if they build a Galaxies or Homeworld...)

Re:Might be taken more seriously if... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30356926)

Wikipedia tells me that there have been 15 "HMS Enterprise" in the British Royal Navy, and 4 others without "HMS". There have been six "USS Enterprise" in the American navy, and 2 others without "USS". There have been 6 other notable ships called "Enterprise". There is a *type* of boat called enterprise, as well as a type of hot air balloon. There was a Space Shuttle Enterprise.

But of course someone who *wasn't* a geek would think they were going for the fictional one.

Re:Might be taken more seriously if... (2, Informative)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357046)

We have insufficient Astromech Droid technology to name anything the Ebon Hawk.

Re:Might be taken more seriously if... (1)

Rexdude (747457) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357634)

But we have enough technology to burn a hole through you, meatbags!

Anyone else tired of eco speak? (2, Insightful)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356764)

Did that article seriously try to argue that a new spaceplane was going to be an ecological breakthrough? No, no, no! SS2 is cool because it's a spaceship, not because it's engines are fricking low-carbon.

Long way to orbital (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30356876)

Not to downplay this milestone, but don't forget to get to orbital speeds SS2 would need around 60 times more energy. It is and stays a wannabe astronaut toy. SpaceX or some scramjet stuff is the way to go.

Re:Long way to orbital (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357034)

There's nothing a bit of nitrous and some decals won't fix.

In an unrelated coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30356936)

Patrick Stewart will be christening the ship...

Weird looking tails (3, Interesting)

EsJay (879629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30356948)

With no connection between the tails of WK2, it looks like it wants to twist apart. Wouldn't that stress the wing unnecessarily? Obviously the folks at Scaled Composites know a bit than me about building airplanes, but it doesn't look right.

Re:Weird looking tails (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357368)

With no connection between the tails of WK2, it looks like it wants to twist apart. Wouldn't that stress the wing unnecessarily? Obviously the folks at Scaled Composites know a bit than me about building airplanes, but it doesn't look right.

The tails are far enough apart to keep from interfering with each other. They're controlled by fly-by-wire, so there's little risk of control rods getting misaligned and causing the rudders or elevators to point different directions. Also, the WK2 won't be engaging in air combat maneuvering, unlike the F--82 and P-38, so you don't have to worry about high loading and large torques across the aircraft causing the fuselages to point in different directions (at least more than the fly-by-wire can compensate for). Also, for point of reference, WK1 didn't have connected tails either.

Nothing to see here.

Re:Weird looking tails (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357478)

Wings are designed to be stressed. Think about the engines on a B777 pushing the body of the aircraft through the air. But in this case you can think of WK2 as being two airplanes joined at the wing. Rudder inputs could be used to counteract the tendency for the two noses to twist inwards.

Am I the only one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30356964)

Every time I see Sir Richard Branson, my brain says "Zaphod Beeblebrox". Am I the only one?

Richard Branson can be the new Willy Wonka (1)

mattwrock (1630159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357052)

Everybody can buy Virgin media to for chance to get the golden ticket and a free flight. Watch out Apple!

6 passengers? (2, Informative)

QJimbo (779370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357072)

an entirely new vehicle capable of carrying up to 6 passenger astronauts and up to 2 pilot astronauts into space on a sub-orbital flight.

No offense... but only 6 passengers? That's not not really that impressive. In my opinion you need at least 20 to 30 passengers before you can start saying it's really mass-market space tourism.

That aside, it's an interesting craft, and I'll be watching the launch.

Theme song? (1)

TheJodster (212554) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357128)

If any vehicle in the history of human flight needed to play this song on it's maiden voyage, this is the one... "I'm leavin' on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again..."

How much are the tickets? I'm willing to fly coach. I bet there are already a bunch of dates blacked out.

What "regulatory requirements"? (2, Interesting)

karl.auerbach (157250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357138)

I am curious about those "regulatory requirements" that "guide the unveiling".

Anybody know what that is all about?

Re:What "regulatory requirements"? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357514)

As someone who works in the space industry, it is probably due to ITAR. Most space technologies are on the export control list that requires a license to export to a foreign national.

wiki [wikipedia.org]

Re:What "regulatory requirements"? (2, Funny)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357610)

I am curious about those "regulatory requirements" that "guide the unveiling".

Anybody know what that is all about?

DMV opening hours.

subject-verb agreement (1)

edittard (805475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357444)

It's either "has released its" or "have released their".

Re:subject-verb agreement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30357512)

Not only do I not know what you're referring to, but your example fragments only include verbs and no subjects.

Who thinks manned space flight is a good idea? (1)

Botched (1314867) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357470)

I mean seriously, dragging a person into orbit, life support systems, food, etc. Thats a major waste of time and effort. Want to invest, invest in the people who call BS and put unmanned, fairly smart computer-controlled ships in orbit for profit. The rest is just for tourists.

Vss (1)

Saija (1114681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357516)

Visual source safe?

Wireless aboard? Electronics? (1)

cpscotti (1032676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30357550)

One thing no one said anything about is the "facebook" compatibility. If they restrain electronics inside why the hell would a millionaire's daughter take such a trip... If she can't upload pictures to Facebook, that's not fun for her!
If they seek for complete success, they need to enable wireless on board so people can tweet their pics at real time and even stream video to their loved (less wealthier) ones.
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