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Manned Spaceflight Gets a Kick in the Pants


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66 replies to this topic

#1 of 67 BrianW

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Posted April 21 2003 - 04:36 AM

A privately-funded space plane has been secretly built and is ready for high-altitude tests:

Space Ship One

I found its reentry characteristics the most interesting, with a maximum air speed of mach 3.5 (unlike the SST's mach 18).

It's low-orbit and too small to be a payload lifter replacement for the SST, but its simple (and presumably reliable) design and much less hazardous flight characteristics make it a compelling design.
-Brian
Come, Rubidia. Let's blow this epoch.

#2 of 67 Jason Seaver

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Posted April 21 2003 - 05:26 AM

Well, that's the coolest thing I've read in a long time. I do sort of wonder, (A) who's funding this, and (B) will the UN's Outer Space Treaty rear its ugly head?
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#3 of 67 Scott Strang

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Posted April 21 2003 - 05:38 AM

Quote:
....will the UN's Outer Space Treaty rear its ugly head?

Uhhh, what UN Outer Space Treaty?

#4 of 67 Joel Mack

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Posted April 21 2003 - 05:46 AM

http://www.oosa.unvienna.org/

#5 of 67 Michael*K

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Posted April 21 2003 - 05:51 AM

Quote:
unlike the SST's mach 18
I though Boeing's supersonic transport flew under Mach 3. Posted Image

#6 of 67 Jack Briggs

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Posted April 21 2003 - 05:54 AM

Damn it, Brian, I debated whether or not to post this information, deciding against it for fear the HTF populace would come to think of me as a one-note wonder.

As for who's funding this particular vehicle, it's Burt Rutan and his Scaled Composites company, and it was my understanding that this is his entry in the X-Prize Competition.

Brian typo'd "SST." He meant to type "STS" (for Space Transportation System, the formal name of the Orbiter/External Tank/Solid Rocket Boosters configuration commonly known as the "space shuttle").

#7 of 67 BrianW

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Posted April 21 2003 - 05:58 AM

My theory (and it's just a theory) is that Dr. Evil is funding this development with the $1 million he extorted from the U.N.

Then again, it does look as if the Vorlons had a hand in building this thing. (Could it be any cooler looking?) I wonder what kind of wetware it uses?

(Yes, I did mean STS. Thanks for the correction. Posted Image)
-Brian
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#8 of 67 Dean Cooper

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Posted April 21 2003 - 08:35 AM

Here is a good site to check out

Much better pictures including inside the cockpit.
Posted Image

Dean

#9 of 67 Ryan Wright

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Posted April 21 2003 - 09:55 AM

Quote:
I debated whether or not to post this information, deciding against it for fear the HTF populace would come to think of me as a one-note wonder.
Oh, Jack, we already think of you in that manner... Posted Image

No, really: Is that a stick-on thermometer & compass in that picture? Like the kind you get at Wal-Mart? & I see an off-the-shelf Garmin GPS on top of the navscreen. Sweet.

I want to fly this thing.

#10 of 67 Eric_L

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Posted April 21 2003 - 11:22 AM

Ok, here are two more cool things to look at:

http://www.sciencene...021005/bob9.asp
and
http://www.moller.com/skycar/

I thought about posting these as new threads, but I think they fit well enough in here.

#11 of 67 Michael*K

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Posted April 21 2003 - 11:58 AM

There was a nice article about the space elevator concept last year in Popular Mechanics.

#12 of 67 Leo Hinze

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Posted April 21 2003 - 12:36 PM

This project sounds groovy! How come I could never find opportunities to work on something like this as an engineer?

I'm not an orbital mechanics expert, although I do play one on TV. My understanding was that re-entry speed was not something that one can arbitrarily choose. I thought that orbital distance and speed are directly related. I hope that someone here can give some basics on the subject.

Thanks!

#13 of 67 BrianW

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Posted April 21 2003 - 01:45 PM

Quote:
My understanding was that re-entry speed was not something that one can arbitrarily choose.
You're right, but this is true of only orbital bodies. If you have to be going mach 18 to maintain orbit, then you must be going that fast when you hit the atmosphere. From the article:
Quote:
SpaceShipOne’s “flight profile” (what an aircraft is expected to do and how) is to reach a 54 nautical-mile maximum altitude, over a flight path (from launch off the White Knight to a ground landing) of just 35 miles.
It would seem, then, that this craft is sub-orbital, with a mission of going almost straight up and then spiraling down. (Drat! I thought it was orbital on my first read of the article.) So although this thing won't be any docking with the ISS any time soon, it will stil prove useful for getting small, unmanned devices to orbit, or even beyond. And manned orbital flight is the next step.

Eric & Michael - Great links! Thanks.

Jack, if we were ever to think of you as a wonder, it would definitely be of the polyphonic variety. Posted Image
-Brian
Come, Rubidia. Let's blow this epoch.

#14 of 67 Philip_G

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Posted April 21 2003 - 04:26 PM

hehe glad to see this got posted, it sort of got scuttled in the daily news. Burt continues to amaze me. The guy is a genius.

#15 of 67 Philip Hamm

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Posted April 22 2003 - 01:35 AM

Quote:
There was a nice article about the space elevator concept last year in Popular Mechanics.
Wow, anybody ever read Kim Stanely Robinson's "Mars" trilogy? He documented the failure and subsequent planet spiraling "Crash" of such a device.
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#16 of 67 Max Leung

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Posted April 22 2003 - 03:33 AM

Hey Philip, the space elevator "failure" in the books was due to a terrorist attack, not an engineering flaw.

Just wanted to clear that up. Posted Image
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him...a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Gamesh....

#17 of 67 Ryan Wright

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Posted April 22 2003 - 03:41 AM

Quote:
http://www.moller.com/skycar/
Posted Image If you have time, do a google search on Moller. That car is vaporware. It's been vaporware for over a decade, and will continue to be vaporware for another three.

#18 of 67 Philip Hamm

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Posted April 22 2003 - 04:30 AM

Quote:
Hey Philip, the space elevator "failure" in the books was due to a terrorist attack, not an engineering flaw.
Just wanted to clear that up.
Posted Image clear what up? I never said anything about what caused the crash in the book. Posted Image

Edit - after rereading I see what you mean. My use of "Failure" suggests a mechanical failure, I just meant that it fell to the planet
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#19 of 67 Jack Briggs

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Posted April 22 2003 - 04:41 AM

As a side note, the ground rules for the X-Prize are that a privately funded and made manned spacecraft must accommodate three people on a suborbital hop at about fifty miles altitude. Then, after returning, the spacecraft and crew must repeat the maneuver no more than two weeks later. The first group to do this wins $10 million.

At the heart of the competition is the desire to stimulate private enterprise to invest in low-cost access to space and space tourism. And this might be what it takes to ever see humans return to the Moon or make the trek to Mars. I certainly don't see any governments acting under any sort of mandate to explore space any longer. China's manned Shenzhou spacecraft won't encourage a competitive atmosphere among governments.

#20 of 67 BrianW

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Posted April 22 2003 - 06:09 AM

Is there a Y-Prize for privately-funded orbital craft?
-Brian
Come, Rubidia. Let's blow this epoch.


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