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Powered flight could be coming soon

It's been a while since we talked about Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two rocket plane, which had its first test flight back in 2010. Last Friday, the spacecraft conducted another successful milestone as it glided during a test flight that had oxidizer flowing through its engine. Some believe that this gliding test with oxidizer flowing to the engine could indicate that the spacecraft's first powered spaceflight could be coming soon.
SpaceShip Two was connected to the bottom of the WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane and it took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port. The carrier aircraft took the spaceship to 50,000 feet where it released the rocket plane for a test flight lasting just under 11 minutes.

So far SpaceShip Two has yet to make a powered flight despite the fact that its hybrid rocket engine has been extensively tested (including multiple test firings on the ground). So far the rocket has never been activated during flight.

All point to April 22 for the first powered test flight for the spacecraft. Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson recently posted a rather teasing comment that read, "I look forward to seeing you all in Mojave soon."

"Importantly, and for the first time in the air, oxidizer was flowed through the propulsion system and out through the nozzle at the rear of the vehicle — thus successfully accomplishing the 'Cold-Flow' procedure," Virgin Galactic said in a news release. "As well as providing further qualifying evidence that the rocket system is flight-ready, the test also provided a stunning spectacle due to the oxidizer contrail, and for the first time gave a taste of what SpaceShipTwo will look like as it powers to space."

Virgin Galactic says that over 500 people have registered to take the $200,000 suborbital space tour.

Sources: Virgin Galactic, NBC News

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RE: To the MOON, Alice !!!
By ShieTar on 4/23/2013 3:35:31 AM , Rating: 2
1) A nuclear explosion would not do much to the surface of the moon. Earth has gone through hundreds of nuclear explosions in the 50s and 60s, and while we can still measure the aftermath and while it can be assumed that the tests have caused a couple 1000 cases of cancer, it didn't exactly render earth uninhabitable.

The truth is, just the everyday cosmic radiation hitting the moon is plenty to kill everybody with any long-term settlement plans unless he hides in a thick protective structure. At that point, he would not overly care about a bit of fallout lying around on the moon-floor. Its not like anything grows there which could become contaminated.

2) You know that fusion is also nuclear, right?

3) Going to the moon basically consists of escaping the earths gravity. Once you are out, there is no huge reason to continue acceleration, so there is no reason to use either nuclear or solar power for that trip.

4) The "dark phase" of the moon is called that because it is not seen from earth. It still gets sun-light within the normal 24 hours cycle. You only need a battery.

5) Even if a point on moon would get no sunlight, you would get the power there by a normal cable at a 1 billionth of the cost of trying to throw mirrors into space to redirect sunlight. Especially with low gravity and no weather, building power lines should be rather trivial.

6) We are already capable of recycling basically every metal and mineral we need at a cost that is roughly comparable to initial production costs, i.e. in the same order of magnitude. Sure, digging a hole in the ground in some 3rd world country and not giving the workers health insurance remains cheaper for many materials than recycling. Transporting anything from the moon or some asteroid, on the other hand, will never be cheaper.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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