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Manned Spaceflight Gets a Kick in the Pants (1 Viewer)

BrianW

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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.
 

Jason Seaver

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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?
 

Jack Briggs

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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").
 

BrianW

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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. :))
 

Ryan Wright

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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... ;)

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.
 

Leo Hinze

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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!
 

BrianW

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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. ;)
 

Philip_G

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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.
 

Max Leung

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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. :)
 

Philip Hamm

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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.
:confused: clear what up? I never said anything about what caused the crash in the book. :confused:

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
 

Jack Briggs

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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.
 

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