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re: tests by da Vinci - Dec 2004

Posted by: Dr_Keith_H - Mon Nov 29, 2004 9:07 am
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re: tests by da Vinci - Dec 2004 
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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 30, 2005 10:59 am
I have no problem with Burt Rutan keeping quiet about progress, however much I would like to know what he is up to, but I just made the point that other teams are treated differently when they keep quiet about what they are doing.

Constant moaning only makes people think that what Burt Rutan accomplished was something beyond every other team when the reality of the situation was that this is not the case. He was fortunate to have an angel investor prepared to fund SS1 from more or less the beginning, if other teams had had the same funding then we might have seen a real race.

Also Scaled contracted out the rocket motor which appears to be the thing that has given most teams the problems.

By making it seem that other teams are not as accomplished or are not able to build a suitable vehicle makes it harder for them to make progress through lack of people willing to invest. However brilliant Burt Rutan's spacecraft was, one man is not an industry and other teams will need to make launches to prove to the general public that SS1 was not a fluke.

Teams like Canadian Arrow and Starchaser would probably flown by now if they had had the required investment. Starchaser's decision to make another rocket of the same class will help them gain extra revenue through their outreach program. The cost for them to turn up at an event with their rocket was over £1000 when I enquired last year and any profit would be funnelled back into their rocket program, having 2 rockets means double the potential to earn income. If they are not going to fly it the cost of producing it would have been much less than the original so it seems like an OK thing to do. This is not to say that I would not like to see them making more progress its just I can accept that they may have other priorities.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 30, 2005 11:08 am
Agreed - much earlier last year I posted similar views repeatedly in other threads.

Perhaps a funding community could be founded - similar to Star Chaser's club but not restricted to any company. A funding community which members are simply interested in seeing the vehicles constructed successfully. It could be similar to AMSAT perhaps and to other vehicle-oriented communities. The existing ones seem to apply a too general orientation.





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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 30, 2005 1:58 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
He was fortunate to have an angel investor prepared to fund SS1 from more or less the beginning, if other teams had had the same funding then we might have seen a real race.
Rocket plane http://www.rocketplane.com/ is now fully funded (over $40 million), they have contracted out an engine and they have a team every bit as qualified as Scaled does. There is a pretty good article in the space review. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/345/1 There is not much information on their web site, but it does say they plan to start flights in 2007.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 30, 2005 2:33 pm
I hope Rocket plane get their bird flying soon. We need more teams flying and securing that kind of backing should get them into space.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Mar 30, 2005 10:56 pm
Crud. Well, Rocketplane must have slipped my mind. So far they haven't done anything impressive but they are apparently fully funded and have a very capable development team. So it should be interesting to see what Rocketplane is able to come up with, as it will be for Scaled Composites.

The Starchaser 4 is useless as a propulsion testbed because it burns solid fuel and the Thunderstar will burn LOX and kerosene with its Churchill Mk. 3 engines. One of the main reasons subscale vehciles are made is so that they can be used to test engines in flight conditions. This is one of the ways that the new Starchaser 4 is not a sign of progress on the part of Starchaser. Moreover, they've already built one, why build another? This question should be addressed; I'd like to know why. If you look at the nice renderings of the Thunderstar that Starchaser has provided us they bear about zero resemblance to the Starchaser 4. This is not just on an aesthetic level, technically the two are extremely different rockets and I really don't see how a new Starchaser 4 will advance the company. I suppose it's progress in the sense that something is being done, but not progress in the sense that something quite useful is being done.

I don't mind not hearing from Scaled Composites because it is a very different company from any of the other alt. spacers. Scaled is being paid tens of millions of dollars by Virgin Galactic to develop SpaceShipTwo, which in of itself implies that something worthwhile is going on at Mojave. Their policy is to reveal just about zero information on their projects until rollout, so we really already know more than we usually would about what Scaled is doing. Moreover, this is the company that won the X Prize and created aircraft ranging from the Vari-EZ to Global Flyer; they deliver on their promises. Scaled is a company one can trust.

What page is this you are getting news from, DKH? The one I see when I type in "xprizenews.org" brings me to a page that displays the usual smattering of articles about Scaled Composites, the X Prize, and occasionally articles about Bigelow, Rocketplane and other asosrted alt. space companies, along with the ones reflecting on the process of developing commercial space travel. Updates from non-Scaled/Rocketplane/DVP are few and far between and usually reflect vehicle losses or minor development (Armadillo), unrelated progress (Interorbital/Starchaser), or dramatic scaling back of operations (STC). There's also the occasionally frantic arm-waving and vaporware touting (Oddity Space and AERA until they can prove otherwise). If there's progress pertenent to alt. space causes I'm having trouble finding it.

Let's put into perspective what exactly Starchaser (using them as an example) has done over the last year or so. It has now been over a year since they first announced the development of the Churchill Mk 3. So far they have managed to construct the thrust chamber and some other odds and ends and not much else. It could very well be over a year before they ever fire the Churchill Mk 3, let alone put anyone in space. The updates on the crew capsule mockup (not a crew capsule, a plywood model of it) have proceeded excruciatingly slowly, imagine how long it could take to develop the genuine article. Whether or not these teams such as Starchaser, Canadian Arrow, and STC are technically capable of spaceflight is one thing, whether or not they are financially capable is quite another. Don't expect to see any real progress from anyone until they become fully-funded.

Another factor that works against nearly all of the alt space companies is that they are not able to invest enough time into development of their rockets. Armadillo is fully-funded and has the technical skills to reach 100K, but they move ridiculously sssllllloooooowwwwlllyyyy. In August John Carmack said that it would take about five weeks to construct a new test vehicle, instead it took six months. Either that is a case of inexcusable arm-waving or working Teusday nights and weekends is not enough to put someone in space. I'll bet that Armadillo will not make another untethered test flight this year now that they've elected to pursue LOX/methanol. None of these teams except the few exceptions appear to be investing the time and energy necessary for spaceflight.

It's an acidic sense of humor, trust me. I don't get mad unless people consistently and repeatedly insult the opposing side without justification. Mind you, some of what you said might fit into that category, but I'd prefer to stick to the subject. If anything I say on these forums does go down in history, I'll be very happy. Attacking my age group will do you no good in this argument. Just because some of my peers have attention spans slightly less than the common fruit fly does not mean that I do as well. I could easily flip this argument around and accuse your age group of a laundry list of nasty vices, and claim ergo you have every one of them. But if I did that I would be flat-out wrong. Please not that I never said that I was the voice of reason, I said that I would like to think of myself as the voice of reason. One is a conceited claim, the other is a personal objective. There is a difference. I apologize if my standards that a respectable alt. space company ought to be able to consistently produce hardware relevent to space travel is too demanding. I don't think it is, but that's just the apparently whiny generation talking. :roll:

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Post    Posted on: Thu Mar 31, 2005 7:03 am
SVB, you are blind. Simple as that. No sense trying to prove it to you though. I think we've wasted enough bandwidth as it is.

DKH

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Post    Posted on: Thu Mar 31, 2005 11:04 pm
Dr_Keith_H wrote:
SVB, you are blind. Simple as that. No sense trying to prove it to you though. I think we've wasted enough bandwidth as it is.

DKH


Yeah, sorry about that. I just wish that there were some easy clear-cut way you could prove I'm blind or I could prove you wrong. Differences of opinion are never irreconcilable unless at least one side shuts themself off from the others. A few posts back you gave me some advice, here's mine in return; don't ever, ever, be closed-minded about anything.

I apologize if you feel I have wasted your time.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 01, 2005 8:12 am
Well gee SVB ... thanks for the advice ... but there come's a time when you have to draw the line at some point. Arguing with you is like shouting down a well.

However, if you insist, I've still got a little breath to waste on you I suppose. Big of me isn't it?

You said (and I quote) "we haven't really seen any signs of progress in any of the teams besides Scaled" ... so I (and others) proved you wrong in subsequent posts. I pointed out that Starchaser had just built another rocket. But that doesn't count, apparently, because you infer that it marks no progress. But you are making the giant assumption that the makers of the rocket decided that in making another starchaser IV there would be nothing to change and nothing to learn by it. That no improvements were made is a guess on your part. Well then, please why don't YOU tell us WHY they went through this apparantly wasteful excercise?

Furthermore, it became clear to us that what qualifies as "signs of progress" in your estimation is nothing short of manned launches. This is inferred from your capricious bet.

What you seemed to want to do with your posting, and continue to do, is primp and pose about pretending to be something approaching the voice of wisdom. You're going in the wrong direction ... wisdom is the other way, child.

DKH

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 01, 2005 11:45 am
Gentlemen,

Everyone on this forum wants the same thing, to be able to go into space. Progress towards this goal is frustratingly slow and we all wish things would happen faster. Scaled Composites proved it can be done, so why's it taking so long for everyone to build and launch their vehicles?

Over the past few months there have been numerous press releases, bold claims, and plenty of CGI, all of which do not necessarily indicate progress, it just gives the illusion of progress. However, if you look deeper you'll find that a few companies are making real progress; for example Armadillo and Starchaser. Both these companies are engaged in real work at the coal-face of propulsion.

Propulsion is a key component and R&D is time consuming and has a huge appetite for cash. Armadillo have continued to explore every avenue in their project and even though they've hit a dead end with one of their options the data and experience gained during R&D is extremely valuable. Starchaser are also making good steady progress in propulsion, their experience in bi-liquid propulsion is growing and they're close to developing the propulsion system for their vehicle.

It's very easy to give the illusion of progress via web sites, CGI, and press releases. You have to look deeper to find the real detail and identify the companies making real progress. To answer some specifics relating to this thread and Starchaser;

Starchaser are working hard to develop a sustainable and profitable business. As one of the few commercial organisations in this sector Starchaser have full and part-time employees and recently announced the formation of its US Company Starchaser Industries Inc. Investors want to see more than just grand schemes, and impressive CGI they want to see sound business plans backed-up with experience and history, Starchaser have been around for over 10 years and as a commercial organisation for over 5 years. While this 'progress' is not visible it is none the less progress and is helping Starchaser build a business on solid foundations.

The wooden mock-up of the THUNDERSTAR capsule is a real engineering mock-up, its helping to validate crew accessibility and cabin configuration.

The comment on progress being linked to funding is valid; this again is something Starchaser is working on. All the non R&D aspects of Starchaser's activities are focused on generating revenue and, while this still falls short of the $20 million given to Scaled Composites by Mr Allen, it is allowing Starchaser to continue making real progress.

This is not an easy business, history is littered with companies who’ve tried and failed. The serious teams/companies working hard to open up Space for all of us need all the help they can get and they deserve our support.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 01, 2005 12:51 pm
cheers mike, but thats all stuff we already know. I think what is annoying people, well me for instance is not the lack of work and progress that we all know is happening but that we arent seeing much of it. We all know that you are all hard at work, but occasionally it would be nice to see and have things explained to us as to why options have been taken, the new rocket for example? we love your work so dont think we are getting bored of you guys and being impacient! we love ya realy! :D

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 01, 2005 2:02 pm
Time and progress is relative. It seems so slow when you are eagerly waiting. It really seemed to drag for me between Gemini 12 and Apollo 7. I was starting to think that we had just forgotten about space. Then FINALLY, Apollo 7 flew. Checking back I see that it was only a 2 year gap, which seems pretty short to me now!


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Post    Posted on: Sat Apr 02, 2005 1:41 am
DKH, please calm down for a moment. Let's think about this logically and consistently, without anyone stepping on someone else's toes. For discussion's sake I reccomend you please refrain from using disparaging comments such as "I've still got a little breath to waste on you" and "you are the voice of the whiner." If you are trying to raise my blood pressure and make me angry at you, it's not going to work, and these statements seriously detract from the professionalism of these forums. People, let's try to be civilized.

Allow me to rephrase my argument. You seem to disagree with me on the basis that because alt. space companies are doing work that could eventually or currently be integral to the development of manned vehicles, they exhibit progress. Perhaps I am wrong to say that there are no signs of progress among the alt. spacers. A better statement, closer to my intention, is that while we see signs of progress, they are still very far away from manned flight readiness and likely many will not make it that far. Granted, there are probably many developments happening out there that are important milestones for manned spaceflight, but that doesn't mean that all or even most of the teams in the nascent industry will succeed. Taking part in any form of entrepeneurship is a very risky endeavor by nature, and space tourism an exceptionally risky business due to the immaturity of the industry. Because of this, in the long run many of these minor developments won't be exceedingly important.

Mike, I apologize for any insensitvity or brazeness you may have interpreted on my part. I wish Starchaser the best of luck, and will continue to be quite happy with any developments your company makes in the future. However, I hope that you can at least understand my skepticism of Starchaser's abilities to finally advance to the point of manned spaceflight. In an industry with so many false starts and red herrings (Rotary Rocket, Beal Aerospace, and Kistler come to mind) I cannot simply take Starchaser's word for it that they are well on their way to making it to 100 km. The evidence I have seen from Starchaser is not, in my opinion, particularly compelling, especially in the light of the significant progress many alt. space companies have made before folding. Remember that Beal Aerospace successfully test-fired an 800,000 pound-thrust second stage engine (and nearly flight-rated it as well) and produced flight-ready tank hardware before permanently closing down in 2001. It would be intellectually irresponsible to not subject all companies to the most rigorous criteria in judging their capabilities in this field where all gains are made on highly tenuous ground.

Hopefully this can help to clarifiy my stance on the alt. space industry. Starchaser has noting but my best wishes in their future development, but they do not have my full confidence. I am not willing to sacrificemy intellectual integrity for that.

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