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Engineering Materials
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two Relies on Carbon Composites
3/27/2012

The VSS Enterprise, the first of five SpaceShip Two commercial spacecraft, all with all-carbon-composite structures, returns to Earth in its first feather, or unpowered, flight on May 4, 2011.   (Source: Clay Center Observatory)
The VSS Enterprise, the first of five SpaceShip Two commercial spacecraft, all with all-carbon-composite structures, returns to Earth in its first feather, or unpowered, flight on May 4, 2011.
(Source: Clay Center Observatory)

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Would you fly it?
Ann R. Thryft   3/29/2012 1:22:43 PM
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Much as I enjoy writing about spacecraft and airplanes, I wouldn't fly in this either. It's too small and I hate flying in small planes. The 747 is the only aircraft I've ever felt safe in.

 

Charles Murray
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Re: Would you fly it?
Charles Murray   3/28/2012 8:14:45 PM
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I'm a huge fan of Burt Rutan, too. That said, I'm not sure I'd fly in this. I think Rutan's appetite for adventure is a little different than mine.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
Rob Spiegel   3/28/2012 2:09:32 PM
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I agree, Ann. We didn't have a clear vision for the Shuttle mission that I can recall. I think it was just that we were doing experiments in space. So I'm not surprised that fizzled out.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
Ann R. Thryft   3/28/2012 1:57:42 PM
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That's exactly the sort of thing I mean by PR, and it sure does work. But you're right, there has to be a clear vision before all that effort can have an effect.


Rob Spiegel
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Re: SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
Rob Spiegel   3/28/2012 1:07:58 PM
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I think the PR -- or even just a clear vision -- is critical. Congress members will support programs that their constituents believe in. To bolster the space program in the 60s, NASA made the astronauts into celebrities, even heros. It was quite a PR effort involving photo spreads in "Life." It worked.

cgosnell
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Re: Would you fly it?
cgosnell   3/28/2012 11:16:59 AM
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I had the chance to talk to Burt Rutan at an Experimental Aircraft Association Convention in the '80's.  I would trust his Engineering judgement over the next 20 people at NASA.  The culture at NASA could not have come up with this solution.

I think Mr. Rutan once commented that NASA would spend more than their Scaled Composites' whole budget just to study the concept.

If Burt Rutan says its OK, I would fly it in a minute.

3drob
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Would you fly it?
3drob   3/28/2012 9:33:28 AM
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Given unlimited money, would you pre-book a flight on one of these?  Given Branson and Musk's record, I wouldn't bet my life on one.

Hopefully they can take lots of money from easy marks (err, I mean forward thinking crazy rich folks) creating a space tourism market (or at least steal some of the market from the Russians).  Then perhaps their company can translate their platforms to deliver scientific payloads into space inexpensivly.  Then we all will benefit.

It's a shame that NASA has become an under-funded joke, leaving this our best hope of staying in space.

Jerry dycus
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Re: SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
Jerry dycus   3/27/2012 9:51:38 PM
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            Hi Ann,

                     It's mostly all CF because the weight advantage of CF and only using one material cuts inter material stresses, a particularly bad  trait of CF so best not mix it with other material.

                     It's using a Core!!!  Of course it uses cores probably of many types. One problem in the vaccum of space the air pressure inside the cores is a serious problem especially with honeycomb. It can make the skin explode so would be interesting on how they handled that.

                     I learned some cool composite tricks from Rutan he used in his early carnard wing homebuilt aircraft designs he started his career with  back in the 70's before he became the rockstar he is now which he richly deserves.

                      It shows what 1 man can do given, making the freedom to do the impossible, will.  And show big corps for what they are,  useless to do anything really new. 

                   Like the car industry bringing out big, bloated overpriced, weight EV's because they really don't want them being made or be successful. 

Greg M. Jung
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Future Virgin Galactic Launches
Greg M. Jung   3/27/2012 9:46:47 PM
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This article prompts me to think about the next phase of Virgin's business venture in space.    Along with future sub-orbital space science missions and orbital launches of small satellites, I've read where Virgin Galactic is also hoping to offer orbital human spaceflights as well.

Charles Murray
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Scaled Composites
Charles Murray   3/27/2012 6:38:46 PM
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They couldn't ask for a better company to do the flight tests on the composites. Scaled Composites knows more about this technology than anyone -- they built the Voyager aircraft that flew around the world without refueling in 1986.

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