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Thread: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test

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    Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test

    Virgin Galactic said its SpaceShipTwo rocket plane suffered a "serious anomaly" during a powered test flight on Friday that resulted in the loss of the aircraft.
    The anomaly occurred after the plane was released from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane and fired up its rocket engine in flight for the first time in more than nine months. Sources said SpaceShipTwo exploded in midflight, and debris fell onto California's Mojave Desert.



    "The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely," Virgin Galactic said in a statement. "Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time."

    Two pilots fly in SpaceShipTwo's cockpit during a test. Those pilots are equipped with parachutes, and after the anomaly, chutes were reportedly sighted over the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, the base from which SpaceShipTwo and its WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane took off.
    Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test - NBC News

    If you know anyone planning to launch into outer space, you might want to suggest they wait until next week. Not a good week to launch.
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    Re: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test

    I'm fascinated by ambitions like this, and I hate that this happened. I hope Sir Branson keeps pursuing this dream of his.

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    Re: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test

    CNN is reporting that one person has died.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bucky View Post
    You have no empirical evidence backing up your false assertion. You are simply conjecturing based on a whim...
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    Or maybe "We now understand why women provoke men into hitting them".
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    Re: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test

    I'm kind of suprised by the one-sidedness of the coverage. Every single piece I've read has sounded like it was written by Virgin Galactic, appologizing for the accident as if it was something you expect when exploring new frontiers. At one point the CNN host repeated herself about 16 times talking about everyone in the company's "excitement" at realizing this "vision".

    Spaceship 2 isn't visionary. It's not exploring any new frontiers. In 1963, the North American X-15, utilizing a similar design reached 108km of altitude. That was 50 years ago. Spaceship 2 isn't research, it's commercialization. And comercialization means replacing the duct tape and chicken wire of research technology with something that's reliable and cost effective.

    Spaceship 2 is certainly cheap. Very very cheap. Originally, Spaceship 2 was anticipated to cost $100 million dollars to develop. Contrast that with the 777 which cost $7.7BILLION to develop.

    Why? Because safety and reliability are EXPENSIVE.

    In today's dollars the entire x15 program cost $2.2Billion with each flight costing $4.5Million. Virgin Galactic hasn't released their targets, but they have to to pay back $400 Million in development costs with $1.5 million in revenue per flight. To be even remotely sane, they have to be looking at at a few hundred thousand dollars or less per flight in operating costs. There is also a significant time crunch. The current backlog of paid passengers is 575. At one flight a month, that's a 9 year backlog.

    Quite simply, you cannot develop highly reliable safe systems without both time and money. It is not reasonable to develop a spaceplane for essentially the cost of a gulfstream and expect it to have the same level of reliability.

    Obviously, there's a pretty signifigant chance that there were pressures put on the development team to make each flight as cheap as possible and to begin flying passangers as soon as possible. And if so, there's an equally good chance that those pressures contributed to or were directly responsible for this accident.

    We shouldn't lionize Branson.

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    Re: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Mithros View Post
    I'm kind of suprised by the one-sidedness of the coverage. Every single piece I've read has sounded like it was written by Virgin Galactic, appologizing for the accident as if it was something you expect when exploring new frontiers. At one point the CNN host repeated herself about 16 times talking about everyone in the company's "excitement" at realizing this "vision".

    Spaceship 2 isn't visionary. It's not exploring any new frontiers. In 1963, the North American X-15, utilizing a similar design reached 108km of altitude. That was 50 years ago. Spaceship 2 isn't research, it's commercialization. And comercialization means replacing the duct tape and chicken wire of research technology with something that's reliable and cost effective.

    Spaceship 2 is certainly cheap. Very very cheap. Originally, Spaceship 2 was anticipated to cost $100 million dollars to develop. Contrast that with the 777 which cost $7.7BILLION to develop.

    Why? Because safety and reliability are EXPENSIVE.

    In today's dollars the entire x15 program cost $2.2Billion with each flight costing $4.5Million. Virgin Galactic hasn't released their targets, but they have to to pay back $400 Million in development costs with $1.5 million in revenue per flight. To be even remotely sane, they have to be looking at at a few hundred thousand dollars or less per flight in operating costs. There is also a significant time crunch. The current backlog of paid passengers is 575. At one flight a month, that's a 9 year backlog.

    Quite simply, you cannot develop highly reliable safe systems without both time and money. It is not reasonable to develop a spaceplane for essentially the cost of a gulfstream and expect it to have the same level of reliability.

    Obviously, there's a pretty signifigant chance that there were pressures put on the development team to make each flight as cheap as possible and to begin flying passangers as soon as possible. And if so, there's an equally good chance that those pressures contributed to or were directly responsible for this accident.

    We shouldn't lionize Branson.
    I thought the opposite of the coverage. I found the continued emphasis on the private nature of the flights to be implicit damning of commercial space organizations. Disclosure: I own several hundred shares of Orbital Sciences stock so I may be being overly sensitive.

    We have done this before as far as LEO goes but the point is that flight test is dangerous business, especially with completely new types and an all composite space plane is a radically new type. People die doing it and the streets at Edwards are named after a long list of test pilots who've died in flight test. We should try to minimize the risks but to assume we can eliminate them and not get people killed is wholly unrealistic.

    No doubt that there are pressures to keep costs down, I don't see that as as being a bad thing. Rather I think it's required if we're to commercialize space. And if space is ever to be anything other than a novelty, a research project it must become commercially viable. Does that mean accepting more risk? Probably. At least in the short term.
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    Re: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Mithros View Post
    I'm kind of suprised by the one-sidedness of the coverage. Every single piece I've read has sounded like it was written by Virgin Galactic, appologizing for the accident as if it was something you expect when exploring new frontiers. At one point the CNN host repeated herself about 16 times talking about everyone in the company's "excitement" at realizing this "vision".

    Spaceship 2 isn't visionary. It's not exploring any new frontiers. In 1963, the North American X-15, utilizing a similar design reached 108km of altitude. That was 50 years ago. Spaceship 2 isn't research, it's commercialization. And comercialization means replacing the duct tape and chicken wire of research technology with something that's reliable and cost effective.

    Spaceship 2 is certainly cheap. Very very cheap. Originally, Spaceship 2 was anticipated to cost $100 million dollars to develop. Contrast that with the 777 which cost $7.7BILLION to develop.

    Why? Because safety and reliability are EXPENSIVE.

    In today's dollars the entire x15 program cost $2.2Billion with each flight costing $4.5Million. Virgin Galactic hasn't released their targets, but they have to to pay back $400 Million in development costs with $1.5 million in revenue per flight. To be even remotely sane, they have to be looking at at a few hundred thousand dollars or less per flight in operating costs. There is also a significant time crunch. The current backlog of paid passengers is 575. At one flight a month, that's a 9 year backlog.

    Quite simply, you cannot develop highly reliable safe systems without both time and money. It is not reasonable to develop a spaceplane for essentially the cost of a gulfstream and expect it to have the same level of reliability.

    Obviously, there's a pretty signifigant chance that there were pressures put on the development team to make each flight as cheap as possible and to begin flying passangers as soon as possible. And if so, there's an equally good chance that those pressures contributed to or were directly responsible for this accident.

    We shouldn't lionize Branson.
    Pushing the envelope is dangerous. The private sector is the engine of innovation, and it will be where advancements come from.

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    Re: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Erod View Post
    I'm fascinated by ambitions like this, and I hate that this happened. I hope Sir Branson keeps pursuing this dream of his.
    Very sad for the pilot involved, really feel for his family but to a certain extent as well these men and women understand the risks they undertake, many pilots have died in the past to improve and perfect not just space travel but air travel as well and as this incident and the recent unmanned rocket shows us, everything we build is fallible and we just have to try our best to minimize the risk.

    But I believe humanities future lies among the stars and nothing will stop us from achieving that goal.

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    Re: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Mithros View Post
    I'm kind of suprised by the one-sidedness of the coverage. Every single piece I've read has sounded like it was written by Virgin Galactic, appologizing for the accident as if it was something you expect when exploring new frontiers. At one point the CNN host repeated herself about 16 times talking about everyone in the company's "excitement" at realizing this "vision".

    Spaceship 2 isn't visionary. It's not exploring any new frontiers. In 1963, the North American X-15, utilizing a similar design reached 108km of altitude. That was 50 years ago. Spaceship 2 isn't research, it's commercialization. And comercialization means replacing the duct tape and chicken wire of research technology with something that's reliable and cost effective.

    Spaceship 2 is certainly cheap. Very very cheap. Originally, Spaceship 2 was anticipated to cost $100 million dollars to develop. Contrast that with the 777 which cost $7.7BILLION to develop.

    Why? Because safety and reliability are EXPENSIVE.

    In today's dollars the entire x15 program cost $2.2Billion with each flight costing $4.5Million. Virgin Galactic hasn't released their targets, but they have to to pay back $400 Million in development costs with $1.5 million in revenue per flight. To be even remotely sane, they have to be looking at at a few hundred thousand dollars or less per flight in operating costs. There is also a significant time crunch. The current backlog of paid passengers is 575. At one flight a month, that's a 9 year backlog.

    Quite simply, you cannot develop highly reliable safe systems without both time and money. It is not reasonable to develop a spaceplane for essentially the cost of a gulfstream and expect it to have the same level of reliability.

    Obviously, there's a pretty signifigant chance that there were pressures put on the development team to make each flight as cheap as possible and to begin flying passangers as soon as possible. And if so, there's an equally good chance that those pressures contributed to or were directly responsible for this accident.

    We shouldn't lionize Branson.
    It would not be the first time an accident happened because saftey was given lower priority in favor of finiancial gains.

    The dc.10 had similar teething troubles that centered on the reliability of the planes cargo doors. They had a tendency to come unlocked during flight and causing the door to fly off in a explosive decompression
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    Re: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Unitedwestand13 View Post
    It would not be the first time an accident happened because saftey was given lower priority in favor of finiancial gains.

    The dc.10 had similar teething troubles that centered on the reliability of the planes cargo doors. They had a tendency to come unlocked during flight and causing the door to fly off in a explosive decompression
    Safety is never the first concern.

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    Re: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes During Flight Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Mithros View Post
    I'm kind of suprised by the one-sidedness of the coverage. Every single piece I've read has sounded like it was written by Virgin Galactic, appologizing for the accident as if it was something you expect when exploring new frontiers. At one point the CNN host repeated herself about 16 times talking about everyone in the company's "excitement" at realizing this "vision".

    Spaceship 2 isn't visionary. It's not exploring any new frontiers. In 1963, the North American X-15, utilizing a similar design reached 108km of altitude. That was 50 years ago. Spaceship 2 isn't research, it's commercialization. And comercialization means replacing the duct tape and chicken wire of research technology with something that's reliable and cost effective.

    Spaceship 2 is certainly cheap. Very very cheap. Originally, Spaceship 2 was anticipated to cost $100 million dollars to develop. Contrast that with the 777 which cost $7.7BILLION to develop.

    Why? Because safety and reliability are EXPENSIVE.

    In today's dollars the entire x15 program cost $2.2Billion with each flight costing $4.5Million. Virgin Galactic hasn't released their targets, but they have to to pay back $400 Million in development costs with $1.5 million in revenue per flight. To be even remotely sane, they have to be looking at at a few hundred thousand dollars or less per flight in operating costs. There is also a significant time crunch. The current backlog of paid passengers is 575. At one flight a month, that's a 9 year backlog.

    Quite simply, you cannot develop highly reliable safe systems without both time and money. It is not reasonable to develop a spaceplane for essentially the cost of a gulfstream and expect it to have the same level of reliability.

    Obviously, there's a pretty signifigant chance that there were pressures put on the development team to make each flight as cheap as possible and to begin flying passangers as soon as possible. And if so, there's an equally good chance that those pressures contributed to or were directly responsible for this accident.

    We shouldn't lionize Branson.
    You are wrong in every way it is possible for you to be wrong. No one has ever contended that Virgin Galactic is pioneering an innovative new approach to space exploration, or for that matter that it is even engaging in space exploration. What makes it visionary is that it is a first nascent step to commercialize human space flight, even if it's just a suborbital celebrity experience. It is by these steps that the future is constructed. Indeed Branson had made clear that his ambition was to see that the next iteration was to be a bonafide orbital craft.

    I'm not sure what the rest of your argument is supposed to mean. Because the 777 cost X amount and Spaceship 2 didn't... Spaceship 2 is shoddy? That's a really nonsensical argument for reasons that should be abundantly clear if you think about that for a moment. As for time pressures and hacks that is precisely what makes commercial space corporations so exciting. The pressure to conform to a business timeline, their limited resources, and their desire for a marketable product is what will bring us innovations and further the development of the high frontier. This has costs and we accept those costs as do the test pilots who sign up for the job.

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