Discussion in 'Mid West Regional Discussion' started by Le_Penguin, Oct 4, 2004.
"San Dimas High School Football Rules!!"
I was wondering when this thread would pop up.
So today I had a debate with myself: Which was more interesting - the space flight that won $10 million dollars, or waiting for Mt. St. Helen's to erupt.
Personally, I find immense act of nature (tornados, hurricanes, etc) fascinating, and a little white shuttle flying through the sky doesn't grab me as much.
Besides, as they say on QESG, ?Nothing says Drama! like fire!?
Mount St Helens.....
went there shortly after the top blew off years ago...the devastation was unbelieveable....yet ...
everything was grey....EVERYTHING...
yet....if you looked really hard...
signs of life...
a tiny one inch sprout of a pine could be seen ...
Today is Fat Ronnie's birthday...
bet you didn't know that...
Sid Hoffman or Sid Frenchman?
i vote for the spaceship. i hope someday to be able to drop $200K on a flight of my own. Thanks, Mr. Branson!
was musing yesterday with my wife: will george lucas pony up for one of these voyages? spielberg?
we know lance bass is in, and hope only that some horrible accident requires him to be launched into space to save the rest of the ship...
where he falls to earth and crushes natalie portman and steve gutenberg, eating lunch together.
(bringin' it all back baby!)
I still want to run Natalie Portman over with my car but I suppose a spaceship will do. And how ironic would that be?
Heather's point about the power of Nature is a good one, but I was more excited about the exploits of SpaceShipOne than Mt. St. Helens (wow, that's weird to type).
I'll be the first to admit that I am far more into gadgets, toys and things of that ilk than many people here. The week I had to wait to get my combination PDA/GPS/Corbomite Death Ray fixed was one of the longest on record. Maybe it's just that growing up I experienced a lot raw Nature and I am (wrongly) less impressed than I should be. Maybe it's that work is in a slow spot and I find myself with a bunch of time to type. Or maybe it is because Nature is so awesome that I find the accomplishments of us puny little humans that much more impressive. The fact that we can take a section of desert that only scorpions and snakes feel comfortable in and turn it into a place like Las Vegas, capaable of supporting millions of human lives, is amazing (granted, there are still scorpions and snakes, they just wear cowboy boots and tweed jackets).
There are many amazing things about the flights of SpaceShipOne. To begin with, sending a person into space is something previously accomplished by 3 of the world's largest countries. Scaled Composites is only a handful of people. Financially it is even a bigger accomplishment. While SSO reached only one-third the height needed for insertion into orbit, the entire program has cost less than $30 million. NASA burns $470 million every time it sends the Space Shuttle up.
All that aside, it is still outstanding that we, as small and squishy creatures, can make a machine that will hurtle us away from the planet at incredible speeds and return us safely to the surface. It's fascinating.
Getting private companies involved with space travel is the only way it will ever amount to anything. The government has never innovated or pushed the envelope. Sure, they were the first into space, but at a shockingly slow pace. We went from zero to landing men on the moon in 10 years, yet more than 30 years later, we barely have a space station in orbit.
Think of the avaition industry. Orville and Wilbur make their first flight in 1903. The only people with disposible income to make planes is the government and for the 1900's and 1910's, pretty much only the government had airplanes.
In 1919, this French guy offers $25,000 to the first person that can fly non-stop from the U.S. to Europe. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh claims the prize, and within 5 years airline companies spring up and airmail service becomes regular.
There is no doubt in my mind that the 27 companies competing in the X Prize competition are paving the way for the next generation of travel. Scaled Composites has already proven it can be done now. It probably won't be 5 years, maybe not even 10, but we are close to the time of cheap, reliable travel to orbit. Sure, we'll still have big, expensive rockets to lift sections of space stations into orbit, but these will be automated craft. The humans will ride up and down in something akin to SpaceShipOne. And it won't be a once a month, or even a once a week thing. Multiple daily flights to orbit are almost here.
Granted, we have many problems here on Earth to deal with, maybe we don't need to be worrying about space travel. Well, yes and no. Yes, we have problems here that need to be taken care of, but just think of all the benefits that can be gained from programs like these. Think of all the everyday stuff we use now that was developed for the space and airline industry. Velcro, airbags, fuel cells, computers, lasers and pretty much the entire plastics industry are direct off-shoots of these programs. By making spaceships safer, we can make our cars safer. By figuring out how to power a space station, we can get rid of fossil fuels. Who knows, maybe in 50 years instead of hooking up with the power company, you just have a small fusion reactor in the basement giving you all the power you need.
I'm a huge "natural world" person myself (I'll watch or read just about anything by David Attenborough) but yesterday's space flight existed on a whole new level. We're finally taking baby steps that could've/should've been taken decades ago (which is probably why so many of us are kinda "blah" about the whole thing... it almost seems like old news.) Events like yesterday's will be important footnotes when our great-great-great-grandchildren are watching St. Helens through telescopes on the moon.
Oh, and definitely Sid _Frenchman_.
"I am still awesome. Seriously."
one question hazmatt's excellent post brought up:
what does that $30 mil include? like did they pay all the scientists and get all the material at cost? or did anyone donate their time/materials? i'd be interested to know if that's a straight sticker price, or what.
and branson dropped $25 mil already into the company, so they're probably well on their way to enough seed money to push their project forward fast.
as usual, pengy's posts have inspired no thoughts in me whatsoever. other than, of course, i'm hungry.
What's a "Blatnet"?
blatnet(n) - much like internet(n) only much more boring.
Blatnet is a running joke around here.....like ThomSolo.
And Thom can't run far without getting winded.
DarthA - From what I understand, the $30 million has covered pretty much everything to do with the two vehicles so far, e.g. materials, payroll, etc. Burt Rutan is the driving creative force behind the whole thing. He has designed 40 ground-breaking aircraft in 30 years. The other 134 people that work for the company are very driven to design, build and fly the airplanes tha Burt creates. Some have been with him a long time, others came right from college. They fabricate their own parts, including the composite pieces, on site. I think the only part of SpaceShipOne that was not done by Scaled Composites was the solid-rocket motor. Keeping everything at home makes it cost less.
Also, one of the core goals of the X=Prize was to do things at a lower cost than the government. We've all heard the stories of the government buying $400 hammers. Businesses can't do that and stay alive. This competition was to point out that leaving the planet is not only possible, but practical without the government bloat.
There is also the time factor. It was only 18 months from the time Burt said, "Hey, why don't we..." to the first flight test of the White Knight. Virgin Galactic plans on building 5 sets and to start flying in 2006. 7-UP announced yesterday that they will be offering an "under the cap" contest to give away one of the first flights. AND we now have "America's Space Cup" to look forward to, which promises $50 million to the first private company to have a working orbital vehicle (did everyone else see Rutan's plans for a 7 person version of SpaceShipOne? Think he'll win?).
All in all, very exciting times.
Two things that struck me from the live coverage:
1) I was watching a live webcast from a camera on a ship 70 miles above the planet traveling at 5 times the speed of sound, yet I have to fiddle with MY wireless webcam to get from my garage to my front room.
2) The enormous farm of wind turbines in the background of the Mojave Airport. Yeah for environmentally friendlier power!
Spaceshipone = awesome.
And it was "Sid Hoffman". You lose again.
"Would you care to share with us some of your polictical views?"
RIP Rodney Dangerfield.
"My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met."
Twins beat the Yanks 2-0 in game 1, and it was a very good game. What bugs me is how the announcers (both on the radio and on TV) were ridiculously pro-Yankee.
"Slow roller up the line..."
I woke up early on Monday just to make sure I didn't miss SpaceShipOne's flight! The separation was the most exciting part, as well as the vertical climb into space! So, yeah, I enjoyed it. Gotta keep my mind of the playoffs without the Cubs. :tear:
"I'm going to kind of come on the radio the day after the debate, and we're going to give you a numerical system -- who won the debate and then how they won."
-- Bill O'Reilly, 9/23/04
"I'm not going to tell you who won the debate because I really don't have any right to tell you that. You should make up your own mind on that."
-- Bill O'Reilly, 10/1/04
(thanx to Trudeau for the quotes)
Bill O'Reilly o'sucks.
Best /. poll evar!
i didn't know o'reilly could count.