Critical Section

boo, two

Friday,  10/31/14  11:55 PM

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwoAnother kind of boo :(, Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo suffers deadly crash.  Crap.  Testing spaceships is fraught with peril, two steps forward, one step back.

Check out this post from Doug Messier, yesterday, before the crash:

The rubber hybrid engine did get a workout in three flight tests, but the vibrations and oscillations it produced were so severe the motor couldn't be fired for more than 20 seconds. The engine was sufficient to get SpaceShipTwo through the sound barrier, but it couldn't get the vehicle anywhere near space.

It was not until May 2014 – after spending nearly a decade on the program, and a reported $150 million on engine development – Virgin Galactic announced it would be switching to a different type of hybrid engine, one powered by nitrous oxide and plastic. They are hoping for much better performance in flight.

Flight tests with the plastic engine are set to begin shortly. It remains unclear whether the new engine will get SpaceShipTwo above the Karman line at 100 km (62 miles), which is internationally recognized boundary of space. Ten years after SpaceShipOne, its successor might not be able to replicate what its predecessor achieved.

SpaceShipTwo explosionIt seems like just yesterday SpaceShipOne was collecting the Ansari X Prize for "reaching space", and yet here we are ten years later, and seemingly no closer to space tourism. 

And it must be pointed out, the 100km barrier might be the definitional boundary of "space", but the International Space Station is in low Earth orbit at 400km, 4 times as far and 16 times more difficult to reach.

Let's hope this is a learning experience and progress continues!

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