Why the X-Prize is not going to bring overnight consumer space travel.
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Thread: Why the X-Prize is not going to bring overnight consumer space travel.

  1. #1
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    Why the X-Prize is not going to bring overnight consumer space travel.

    Lots and LOTS of people seem to be constantly comparing the current situation with space travel, with the early 20th century aviation.

    In fact, the comparison is not appropriate at all.

    The early pioneers who created aeroplanes from bits of sticks and cloth, putting unreliable petrol engines on, often killed themselves. But we remember the successful ones.

    The basic problem I see, is space travel is NOT aviation.

    The amount of foresight to be able to predict aviation is fairly minimal. DaVinci did it in the 15th century, and probably loads of people did before him (just he wrote it down in rather more detail than them). Everyone since the beginning of human history, has watched birds flying. Everyone since the invention of paper has made paper planes. Each step was essentially just a small one.

    Space travel just ISN'T that simple. They don't call it "rocket science" for nothing. It's ****ing complicated, and no amount of constant comparisons with the early aviation industry will make it simpler. Birds do fly very gracefully, but they don't usually go into orbit.

    For decades, the governments of the two most industrially productive countries in the world have been pouring massive amounts of cash into space travel - mostly to figure out how to destroy each other more effectively. They have achieved much - and I don't believe that any real progress would have been made without them.

    Sure, commercial companies do launch satellites with varying degrees of government assistance, but their R&D has been paid for by the cold war budgets of NATO and the Soviet Union.

    The only possibilty that anybody has these days to produce "cheap" spaceflight, is to use a great deal of computer power (to do modelling, saving cost of failed launches) - but even that is not easy, largely because the cost of hiring the engineers and scientists to operate the computers.

    I don't want to knock Rutan and Scaled Composites - but seriously, putting a spacecraft into orbit is a lot different from flying a 30 minute sub-orbital flight. The energy involved is something like 20x higher. They won the X-Prize. And Branson (boss of "Virgin Galactic") won the right to take a few rich bastards up on the rip-off so-called "trip of a lifetime".

    Slarty

  2. #2
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Aviation versus space travel?

    The comparison is accurate. The scale is shifted. Both requirements and scientific advancement slide the term "advance." In fact the reality is aviation is a much greater achievement. We have already been to space. We can place probes on Mars and fly robots to the outer limits of Sola. (but we didn't put a man on the moon???).

    government funding of so called "Exploration" is in serious amends. Commercial companies launch satellites at great expense of their own. Nothing sacred in plunking a metallic object in space. Placing a human there is different. And like all inventions, realizing the potential is a private matter. Look at the internet, air planes, telephones, cars, television, and space travel. All - I have to vainly admit are products of American science with help from neighbors and interested party's who joined the cause to advance mankind. It was the industrialists and private corporation, who brought each technology to light. It will be those types who build space travel in the future. Not red tape from a collective that loses the ability to make decisions based on mathmetics that go against the baseline of a hive accustomed average human needs. Averages never pinacle on exteme creativity in science.
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    Whether space travel and aviation become compareable, will depend on whether space flight can be commercialised. To apoint where a profit can be realised.

    Both have been advanced to a level of commercialism be the military. The jet liner was developed from the bombers from ww2. Private indeviduals may have had a hand in the development of the technology, but that technology was advanced by government and the need to establish a superiority over an enamy. So it was with the space race, albiet not exactly the same. The need to gain the upperhand was still there.

    Over the last few years we have seen a rapid commercialisation of space it's self, with the advent of satalite tv and private companies putting communication satalites into space. Now the wide spread use of satalite imaging and GPS technology.

    Largely the maintenance and upkeep of these systems are down to government agencys like NASA but how long befor this is tenered out to private companies. If this happens a new commercial oppertunity maywell open up.

    Presently there is no real reason for passenger space flight. Except for the adventurace and rich few. Perhaps if Disney puts a Theme Park on the moon, we will see a 747 version of the space shuttel.
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    Keeping The Balance CybertecOne's Avatar
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    Birds do fly very gracefully, but they don't usually go into orbit.
    Usually???
    Space travel just ISN'T that simple. They don't call it "rocket science" for nothing.
    Um... ok, there IS a difference... rocket science is just the understanding of rockets and how they work... we use rockets to GET to orbit but it has nothing to do with space travel.

    I think you are missing the fundamental object of aviation; atmosphere, gravity, wind resistance.
    all of those things contribute to the design and structure of vehicles of aviation. they are designed to make gravity shake its head and look the other way.

    in space, none of those apply. so a 10mx10mx10m steel cube would 'fly' just as well in space (by its own means) as a 747 would on earth with twin engines and tank full of fuel. The main problem with space travel is propulsion and movement.

    gravity and wind resistance etc, are also what the design of aviation is designed to push against... the turbine engines pull the air through, in effect, pulling the plane forward. thats the design for air for acceleration and movement. the flaps on the wings change the pressure of surrounding air allowing for movement and direction. NONE of those common designs are effective in space, because they simply dont exist.

    Now the method is, to create something that can have as much control as aviation does in out atmosphere, as it does in space. which is something that is nothng more that a void??

    Really the only things in space are "orbital gravity" "light" "radiation"

    all of those three things come in abundance and in a great variety, however.... we dont have any design or method of hardnessing those energies for travel.

    In Conclusion: Space Travel is not "rocket science" so to speak, nor is it very difficult. Its just the fact that we do not have methods of achiving it yet. just as before people dies for trying to fly because we didnt have a method, so we will come across just as many pit falls for space travel.

    *exhales*


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  5. #5
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    Capitalism 102 - competition begets better products and lower prices.

    By commercializing space travel you generate competition. Granted, for now the market (demand) is quite small - I mean who really wants to pay $250k for a hop into low earth orbit? However, as the various companies research, develop, and market new tech, that price will drop, thereby increasing demand. From watching the little programs on discovery about Sealed Composites, I've seen where the guy's actually planning on building a space station for the 'ultimate vacation'. Sounds pretty cool to me, if he can get ticket prices down to 500 bucks or so, I might bite. Until then, I hope the various commercial enterprises seeking to enter the 'space race' keep at it, and keep improving things.

    Flight 102 - As a child, I remember a flight from Dallas Ft. Worth airport to Hawaii took 12-16 hours depending on what airline you flew. (Braniff was fastest at 12). Now with faster planes and better tech, these flights are under 8 hours. If the US would allow SST flights in its airspace for commercial enterprises, you could cut that to an hour or so. Looooong way from Kitty Hawk, isn't it? Now apply that to space travel and let's see how far healthy competition and good, honest capitalism takes it...
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    Keeping The Balance CybertecOne's Avatar
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    But there isnt any competition if there is no market for it. as i was saying, there is no conventional way or travelling through space, and particularly for destination purposes..... the higher the orbit the longer the distance from A to B than on ground level, and that would only increase travel time.

    IMO, i believe we would colonise mars before we had a half baked idea about how to travel through space conveniently and at distance....


    CTO
    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius --- and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction."
    - Albert Einstein

  7. #7
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    Capitalism 103 - if you build it, and show a profit, they will come (competitors).
    Even a broken watch is correct twice a day.

    Which coder said that nobody could outcode Microsoft in their own OS? Write a bit and make a fortune!

  8. #8
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Shooting a rocket into space doesn't equate to placing an abject on an intercept course to a space station and guiding it there with accuracy of less that a few centimenters. Both abjects are flying at amazing speeds. The cool science, at least in modern terms is advanced navigation and the fact that you can bring your rocket back down in one piece. Along with a man in good health and do that without government intervention.
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    but you have to remember that this is how progress works. first we start to do it, and then we figure out how to do it efficiently -- the competition comes with the efficiency aspect
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  10. #10
    Keeping The Balance CybertecOne's Avatar
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    One thing you are all missing....

    The physical laws we are all so accustomes with, ei, gravity.... do not apply in space.....

    first we start to do it, and then we figure out how to do it efficiently
    Yes true, but we do not have the technology or the means to develop the technology (yet) that will allow effecient travel through space. atm, we have jets which spray air (or something) which guides, turns and manovures a craft in space. for propulsion we have rockets. they do not constitute effecient space travel. and there is no market.

    what other design that is even in existance, that is an improvment on this, and can create a market???? nothing?

    That is what i was trying to say before. you cannot have competition on space travel with current technology. the market would not exist until the time when we have an effecient and 'cheapish' way or travelling through space..... when we do have that technology that ALLOWS us to travel... then the market would open up for things like faster travel, smoother landing, and more "natural" technology like artificial gravity..... i know artificial gravity can be created however, there would not be a market for it until its really needed..... ie, commercial travel.

    Anyway, thats all i have to say on the subject anymore. simply the fact that there can be no market or competition simply because we dont even have the technology.

    Regards,


    CTO
    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius --- and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction."
    - Albert Einstein

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