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Virgin Galactic Unveils SpaceShipTwo 129

Posted by kdawson
from the up-up-and-back-again dept.
BoulderDad writes, "Richard Branson presented a mock-up of the new SpaceShipTwo in New York. From the article: 'Future passengers aboard Virgin Galactic spaceliners can look forward to cushioned reclining seats and lots of windows during suborbital flights aboard SpaceShipTwo, a concept interior of which was unveiled by British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson Thursday.' The video is worth watching; the spaceport details are more concept than reality, but the depiction of the phases of space flight is very good."
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Virgin Galactic Unveils SpaceShipTwo

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  • Shotgun! (Score:3, Funny)

    by daniil (775990) <evilbj8rn@hotmail.com> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @02:32PM (#16233855) Journal
    I get the shotgun seat!
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Pfhreak (662302)
      Sorry, I just realized what you meant by that post (calling shotgun on the orbiter, not a fancy "first post"), so I'm replying to undo my "Offtopic" moderation.
    • Re:Shotgun! (Score:4, Informative)

      by slagheap (734182) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:04PM (#16234591)

      I get the shotgun seat!

      You can have it.

      I saw Burt Rutan (the craft designer) talking at the Oshkosh EAA convention a couple months ago. He explained how they plan to allow exactly that. The typical SpaceShip 2 Flight will have 8 people on board... That's one Virgin pilot, and 7 "revenue" seats. 6 passengers will typically show up just a day or two before their flight for some brief training. The seventh guest will pay a lot more, and will arrive 2-3 months before the flight for extensive training. They will be the official co-pilot for their flight.

      I'm sure you will need to be a licensed pilot going in, so start working on that training now!

      • by russ1337 (938915)
        The seventh guest will pay a lot more, and will arrive 2-3 months before the flight for extensive training. They will be the official co-pilot for their flight
        ... and if the pilot is anything like pilots I know, the shotgun seat will always go to the hottest chick on board. (If she's a minger, they'll find a reason to shove her down the back and get the hot one up front)
    • Just realized that the lack of photos on Slashdot is something that is missing from Slashdot. I wish I could retake that survey.

      And, yes, I was here the day or so that Slashdot's allowance of the IMG tag was exploited back in the day. I still regret scrolling past the mug shot of Bill Gates and seeing...well, what shouldn't be seen. Brain bleach. It doesn't work.
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        You really want every other post to be goatse?

        No thanks.. I'll stick to text.
        • True on the comment posts. But the articles could have photos reasonably securely. Especially if the images were hosted at some OSDN-controlled server.
  • Comfy... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    For an initial ticket price of $200,000, Virgin Galactic passengers will buy a 2.5-hour flight aboard SpaceShipTwo and launch from an altitude of about 60,000 feet (18,288 meters), while buckled safely in seats that recline flat after reaching suborbital space.

    Ahh suborbital relaxation. Do I get a glass of Veuve with that as well? :)
    • by diersing (679767)
      Depends if you'll be suborbital relaxing with your left hand or your right.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nizo (81281) *
      No, but you get a complimentary silk barf bag with a Virgin Atlantic logo.
  • bin space? (Score:4, Funny)

    by omahajim (723760) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @02:38PM (#16233985)
    Where's the overhead bin space? I'm gonna have to board early to find space for my rollerboard!
    • by belgar (254293)
      Fortunately, there are handy compartments for hoverboards, [wikipedia.org] however.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tgd (2822)
      Seems to me someone probably said the aircraft needed to be bin laden, half the room started talking about european or african spaceships, and the other half called the Department of Homeland Security.

      Probably just easier to leave them out.

  • Orbit? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bobs666 (146801) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @02:41PM (#16234071)
    Its one thing to get to some altitude, and back.

    But when will private industry make it into orbit and back.
    You need that if you want to stay for more then free fall.

    Its the speed of orbit, and reentry from that speed, that makes this hard.

    A real space tourist will want to stay a while.

    As for several minutes of weightlessness, you can get
    that from conventional aircraft.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Mateo_LeFou (859634)
      "Its the speed of orbit, and reentry from that speed, that makes this hard." Heh... I'm guessing you won the X Prize for suborbital flight, then? Was it easy?
    • Re:Orbit? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:00PM (#16234515)

      As for several minutes of weightlessness, you can get
      that from conventional aircraft.

      True, but what you don't get is the blue sky disappearing to be replaced with the blackness of space. I'd also imagine you can see the curvature of the earth quite well from 60 miles up. Weightlessness is kinda cool I'm sure, but I think the selling point for all the millionaires will be the visuals, the G-forces, and of course telling all your too-rich friends that you officially went into space. I imagine if this thing is successfull it could fund the next stage, which would be an orbital vehicle.
      • I aggree with you, the View will be the selling point.

        I almost did not put that last line in there.

        What I would like to see is a space elevator.
        And people are working on that as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tmack (593755)
        I imagine if this thing is successfull it could fund the next stage, which would be an orbital vehicle.

        Or extremely high parchuting! I remember reading a short sci-fi story about something like this once. They had a tower that went up into the stratosphere/leo region, where you take an elevator ride to the top, put on a space suit with a dish shaped heat shield, then jumped off. After re-entering the atmosphere and slowing down enough from drag, you jettison the dish, then procede like a normal jump. Soun

        • by Eivind (15695)
          That too lame for you ? Jumping from 60 miles not satisfying your desire for ultimate thrill ?

          Go for MOOSE [astronautix.com] short for "Man Out Of Space Easiest". Which may be "easy", but certainly would not be unscary.

          The idea is to re-enter from orbit wearing nothing more than your space-suit, a foldable foam heat-shield, a small hand-held rocket-motor with sufficient trust to make you slow orbital speed until you touch the atmosphere (from which point air-friction does the rest)

          After entering in your own personal 6-

      • An intermediate step would be suborbital transcontinental flight. Imagine traveling between EU and US via something like this. You'd get the 1 hour ride to 50,000 feet and then a short (long compared to this) rocket ride across the ocean, followed by a glide into the local spaceport.
        • by ultranova (717540)

          An intermediate step would be suborbital transcontinental flight. Imagine traveling between EU and US via something like this. You'd get the 1 hour ride to 50,000 feet and then a short (long compared to this) rocket ride across the ocean, followed by a glide into the local spaceport.

          And a 17-hour wait in the start airport while your DNA is checked to make sure you aren't really an evil terrorist trying take over and crash the craft to some large building.

          Fast travel between countries is problematic in

      • by iocat (572367)
        Hey, if these rich dudes get astronaut wings for flying into space, can I get some kind of special Pilot Wings for flying on United 852 to SFO from Narita? We were well above 38,000 feet at one point, previously territory only veered into by elite test pilots, and we actually crossed the Pacific in ONE HOP, ON INSTRUMENTS for most of the time. Both those things must have been records at one point...

        (Quick, name the first guy brave enough to fly to Hawaii [firstflight.org].)

        • by Maniakes (216039)
          And don't forget Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan [centennialofflight.gov], who in 1935 left New York headed for California, but ended up in Ireland.

          (While he claimed it was a mistake, it's believed that he probably meant to go to Ireland and filed a false flight plan after the FAA refused to approve him for a solo trans-Atlantic flight)
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      But when will private industry make it into orbit and back.
      You need that if you want to stay for more then free fall.

      True, but the first thing you have to do before you worry about orbit is making sure you can get up and down safely. Look at how NASA conducted Project Mercury - a couple of sub-orbital lob shots to prove they could do it, before trying to boost a guy into orbit.

      In the beginning, commercial space travel will be the arena of the commercial traveller, and they will be more interested in

      • Re:Orbit? (Score:4, Informative)

        by RockClimbingFool (692426) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @04:56PM (#16236751)
        Project Mercury was designed to be scalable to orbital velocities and the reentry associated with it.

        Virgin Galactic's (Rutan's) method is not scalable to orbital velocities. It's not even new or unique.

        We have been launching small rockets off airplanes for decades now.

        There is no reason to take this step. It doesn't put them going towards orbit.

        It is Rutan and Co.'s marketing department that has convinced people this is a necessary step to the commercialization of space.

        All it is a scam to milk $250,000 people off those that can afford it and he used the X-prize as a form of advertising for it.

        • by pavon (30274) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @06:39PM (#16238293)
          You are right in correcting the parent - this is not an orbital technology, never will be, and was never intended to be. But the rest of you comment is completely uncalled for.

          We have been launching small rockets off airplanes for decades now.
          Great where can I get a ride on one - oh, only if I am one of a handful of jet pilots in the Air force or government space program.

          There is no reason to take this step.
          Sure there is - because it can and will be completed within the next decade, unlike the private man-to-orbit projects under way. It will also likely be much more affordable than the orbital trips, even when they do come to fruition. Bungee jumping will never scale to orbital velocities, but that does not make it worthless.

          All it is a scam to milk $250,000 people off those that can afford it ...
          Yeah, and damn that rafting company who scammed me out of $50 by providing a desired service in exchange for a mutually agreed upon sum. Dirty Capitalists.

          ...and he used the X-prize as a form of advertising for it.
          That was the whole point of the X-prize. It was never intended to go towards orbit, and the hope was that it would lead to a commercial venture. The people who provided the money for the X-prize don't feel cheated, and are very happy about Branson's deal with Rutan to develop it into profitable business.

          Oh, and you people bitching about the environmental impact need to get some perspective. There are thousands of flights across the world every day, and millions of vehicles being driven and thousands of coal plants spewing CO2 and soot. And you are worried about the pollution that one sub-orbital launch a week is going to do.

          Seriously, I am used to people on slashdot being critical jerks, but this thread is ridiculous. Rutan is an excellent high-performance plane designer, and rather than sitting around bitching about how he wished there were private alternatives to get into space, he took what knew and did something about it. In just a few more years he will be providing an opportunity to people that has never existed before, and which no one will match for many more years to come. You may not think it is worth the price, but thousands of other people do, and are more than willing to pay the $250,000 to get a glimpse of space. Sure I would prefer to see an orbital trip. But I will always be far more excited to see concrete progress in the present, no matter how small, than I will be to dream about vaporware.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by QuantumG (50515)
          What can't you understand? This isn't about technology. This is about building a market.
    • by Sparohok (318277)
      No, you can't get several minutes of weightlessness from a conventional aircraft.

      The theoretical maximum duration in zero G for a subsonic maneuver is less than 70 seconds. That would involve a ballistic trajectory initially going straight up at the speed of sound, only recovering once you are going straight down at the speed of sound. 331.5 m/s / 9.8 m/s/s * 2 = 67.65 seconds.

      Practical zero-G maneuvers for conventional (i.e. subsonic) passenger aircraft typically get 15-25 seconds of weightlessness.
  • dang (Score:1, Funny)

    Was anyone else hoping for some sort of torpedos?
  • To afford this. Obviously.
  • by zorkmid (115464) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @02:52PM (#16234345)
    Passengers will have several minutes of weightlessness during the spaceflight, and then have about 40 seconds to return to their seats

    200K for "several minutes" in space? Sorry, I'll wait until 2010 for Bigelow's space hotel.
    • by ackthpt (218170) *

      For those with more money than common sense.

      Passengers will have several minutes of weightlessness during the spaceflight, and then have about 40 seconds to return to their seats

      200K for "several minutes" in space? Sorry, I'll wait until 2010 for Bigelow's space hotel.

      Yes, but imagine the fun you will have watching other rich people having space sickness, nausea and vomiting in 0 G!!!

      someone doesn't chew their food properly...

    • by Radak (126696)
      For those with more money than common sense.

      And naturally, since your priorities are different from those of others, you've got to insult us.

      Tell you what. After I land, I'll let you know whether or not I felt it was a good investment. Enjoy waiting in Bigelow's line for the next 20 years.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by seriesrover (867969)
      You know, for 80% of people in this world they'd say the exact same thing about people like you with iPods, 'puters, HDTVs, digital cameras etc.


      I'd suggest getting of your high horse and realize that people with a lot of money actual tend to have MORE common sense (not all, most) - you need it to either make it and\or retain it. And besides, its theirs to spend it how they want - to be able to go into space, even for a mere few seconds, would be a trip of lifetime.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Somewhere in the bowels of Cheyenne Mountain, a secret government project is getting ready to launch GateShip One.
  • by Fx.Dr (915071) <[exterminans] [a ... thelosthour.com]> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:14PM (#16234777)
    Galactic Virgins, found most notably in parents basements and Star Trek conventions nation-wide.
  • I really think they could have made that movie a bit better by throwing a few more lens flares in there.
  • I would bet that they are developing a special version of spaceship 2( spaceship 2c?) that will operate a bit like the shuttle. That is it will have a cargo area were it can launch a smaller rocket for sending into LEO or higher. This will allow virgin to participate in sending small quick payloads into orbit (perhaps a small spy sat?).

    Beyond that, I am curious to see the whiteknight 2. I would also guess that it will be big enough to launch SS3.
    • by paskie (539112)
      Hmm, and how will you ship payloads into orbit with a suborbital flight?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by WindBourne (631190)
        small rocket.; think of the pegasus launch system.
    • by twostar (675002)
      SS3 is suppose to be completely different. One thing is for sure, LEO. That's about all Rutan has said so far.
  • by g00bd0g (255836) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:34PM (#16235155) Homepage
    The 1st zero-G porno is gonna rake it in.
  • You'll know that space travel has really come of age when the boarding line contains twenty backpack wearing Aussies on walkabout.
    • You'll know that space travel has really come of age when the boarding line contains twenty backpack wearing Aussies on walkabout.

      A lot of the cost of business class travel between Australia and Europe is the accomodation cost of the full day you spend in transit. If you could cram 20 business class travelers into a semiballistic vehicle you could get perhaps half a million dollars of revenue for a half hour trip. Passengers save time and you get more work out of your capital, assuming that your turn aroun

      • by AGMW (594303)
        The downside is that the energy cost of a semiballistic lob from Australia to Europe is almost as much as the cost of getting to orbit, so you almost have to build a space shuttle to get the idea to work.

        Anyone remember HOTOL [wikipedia.org]? As I recall there were talks of quick flights from the UK to Australia (or wherever) with a couple of orbits thrown in for free as it would also carry a satalite into orbit, and maybe recover old satalites for repair to help cover costs. Obviously, this was a LONG time ago and it ne

  • by zentinal (602572) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:41PM (#16235287) Homepage
    Since it seems the ravening hordes have slagged Space.com's servers, I permission from Popular Science to post a link to their SpaceShipTwo story on the Popular Science website [popsci.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The walk-before-run philosophy doesn't make sense to me when it comes to hard science and technology. You don't need to reinvent the wheel to invent the axle. I see no difference between Burt Rutan building a primitive, fragile stratosphere-plane and the Chinese putting a man into orbit. It's work duplication. Instead of standing on the shoulders of giants, people are building wax wings.
  • Hopefully, I can take my PowerBook on this ship. I really hope he didn't ban all Apple batteries for these flights.
  • Five years from now: "Virgin Galactic Unveils SpaceShipTwo 2 Duo II Zwei Deux!"
  • by omahajim (723760)
    This ain't gonna really take off until you get Virgin Atlantic "Flying Club" miles for this (or probably more importantly, you can redeem Flying Club miles for a trip)

    Oops, my bad, I guess you can

    http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/en/gb/frequentflyer /fcpartners/virgingroup/virgingalactic.jsp [virgin-atlantic.com]

    • by twostar (675002)
      Only 2 million FF miles? Hot shit, I better get flying.
      • by omahajim (723760)
        Upon further analysis, flying Virgin Atlantic for 2,000,000 miles might be a hell of a lot cheaper than just paying the $200,000 fare for Virgin Galactic. Most frequent flyers (like on FlyerTalk) value FF miles at about $0.02 a mile (even down to $0.01 for the hardcore mileage runners). So it might cost you as little as $20,000 to $40,000 to get your 2,000,000 FF miles. That is, if you had the time of course.
  • Not that I don't want to take a trip to NEO, but I'm more excited about the opportunities for parabolic intercontinental travel. 2.5 hours for a trip, and you can come back down practically anywhere. Getting some zero-G out of would just be a side effect.

    --- SER

  • by FleaPlus (6935) * on Thursday September 28, 2006 @04:51PM (#16236675) Journal
    The linked article only shows the photos of a mockup of SS2's interior. The coverage over at Gizmodo includes some images from Virgin Galactic which show the conceptual design for the exterior of SpaceShipTwo:

    http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/first-image s-of-virgin-galactic-spaceshiptwo-cabin-203802.php [gizmodo.com]

    One of the images compares the size of SpaceShipTwo [gizmodo.com] to other vehicles, such as SpaceShipOne, the Bell X-1, and a Boeing 747.
  • by mapkinase (958129) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @05:51PM (#16237639) Homepage Journal
    What is with "SpaceShipOne", "SpaceShipTwo"? Reminds me of an ancient joke about a programmer who was told to drop undescriptive variable names like "i" or "j", so he adopted variable names like "descriptive_enumerator_1", "descriptive_variable_name_2".
  • "If you're going to build a spaceship, you've got to build a green spaceship," Branson said, adding that the carbon dioxide output from a single spaceflight is on par with those of a business class seat aboard commercial aircraft.

    Wow, that's a great CO2 budget. But what about methane?

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