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posted by martyb on Wednesday June 09, @12:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the competition dept.

Branson may make a last-ditch effort to beat Bezos into space:

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said on Monday he would fly on the first human spaceflight of his company's New Shepard spacecraft. This mission will launch from Blue Origin's spaceport in West Texas on July 20, which is the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing in 1969.

With this timeline, Bezos seemed almost certain to beat his suborbital space tourism rival, Sir Richard Branson, into space. Setting aside whether Branson's VSS Unity vehicle reaches space—its maximum altitude is just below the Kármán line, or 100 km—this is nonetheless a meaningful milestone.


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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Wednesday June 09, @12:55AM (11 children)

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday June 09, @12:55AM (#1143350) Journal

    Out of the space billionaire trio, Branson's company was the only one to kill somebody in a crash (so far).

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  • (Score: 2) by NateMich on Wednesday June 09, @01:50AM (1 child)

    by NateMich (6662) on Wednesday June 09, @01:50AM (#1143382)

    Yeah, Branson's rocket plane can get to "space". The New Shephard can also get into "space".
    Let's see which "space" billionaire can get there first. Very exciting.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday June 09, @03:13PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 09, @03:13PM (#1143539) Journal

      Yawn!

      Wake me up when either of these space billionaires can actually put something useful, especially a human, into orbit.

      This first to orbit mine-is-bigger-than-yours measuring contest seems like neither Bezos nor Branson are actually serious about space. Both of them seem interested and indeed even focused upon sub-orbital joyrides. No wonder they can't yet put anything into orbit.

      Hey Bezos, how about some fright certified BE-4 engines that ULA needs in order to fulfill its military contracts?

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @02:46AM (8 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @02:46AM (#1143403)

    It's also the only one that requires a pilot because it only has manual controls. I love the concept but the lack of automation is why I've given up on them ever reaching orbit.

    • (Score: 2) by NateMich on Wednesday June 09, @04:00AM (7 children)

      by NateMich (6662) on Wednesday June 09, @04:00AM (#1143423)

      I love the concept but the lack of automation is why I've given up on them ever reaching orbit.

      Did they ever plan on reaching orbit? It doesn't seem possible without different hardware entirely.

      • (Score: 2) by pe1rxq on Wednesday June 09, @07:27AM (5 children)

        by pe1rxq (844) on Wednesday June 09, @07:27AM (#1143460) Homepage

        Reaching 100km is one thing, but at that point they are still about 25000km/h short of being in orbit.

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday June 09, @03:18PM (4 children)

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 09, @03:18PM (#1143544) Journal

          I think they are not only short of altitude to achieve orbit, but are short by a whole bunch of velocity.

          No surprise when their first development isn't even intended to reach orbit but merely be a sub orbital joyride.

          It's like having a goal of getting to the moon, and thinking that if we can just reach the tree tops, that is a good first step which helps us achieve getting to the moon. It doesn't.

          Don't build your space program around something that you know before you build it can never achieve your actual goal.

          My goal is to build a self powered car that can move under its own power. Look! I managed to build a wheeled vehicle that can be pushed! it's a step toward the goal!

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          • (Score: 2) by pe1rxq on Wednesday June 09, @05:49PM (1 child)

            by pe1rxq (844) on Wednesday June 09, @05:49PM (#1143605) Homepage

            km/h is velocity (for most of the world at least)

            • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday June 09, @07:26PM

              by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 09, @07:26PM (#1143651) Journal

              I used the technical description "a whole bunch" which can be converted into km/h without difficulty.

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          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @06:01PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @06:01PM (#1143609)

            I think they are not only short of altitude to achieve orbit, but are short by a whole bunch of velocity.

            That's what pe1rxq said.

            My goal is to build a self powered car that can move under its own power. Look! I managed to build a wheeled vehicle that can be pushed! it's a step toward the goal!

            But that is a step towards the goal. Critical path, even. Steering and breaks would be good next steps before self propulsion. Early cars drew a lot of technical and design experience from horse drawn buggies. The problem is stopping at that point. A better analogy would be building an airplane but never taking it out of ground effect. Yes, you've technically flown, and GEV's have their uses, but you will never achieve the full potential until you learn to fly higher.

            There is nothing preventing either Branson or Bezos from achieving orbit. Branson even did it back in January with Virgin Orbit. True, they need to develop heat shields for reuse to happen, SpaceShipTwo still needs a working autopilot, and they are both likely to lose a few prototypes in the process, but neither of them have put any effort into those critical steps.

            • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday June 09, @07:31PM

              by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 09, @07:31PM (#1143657) Journal

              There is nothing preventing either Branson or Bezos from achieving orbit. Branson even did it back in January with Virgin Orbit. True, they need to develop heat shields for reuse to happen,

              Heat shields may be necessary if the capsule is to be re-used. But heat shields aren't necessary merely to get a human to orbit in order to win this pissing match. [even though other humans have already been taken to orbit by SpaceX.]

              SpaceShipTwo still needs a working autopilot, and they are both likely to lose a few prototypes in the process, but neither of them have put any effort into those critical steps.

              I'm sure that either Bezos or Branson would be able to inflate the auto pilot without difficulty.

              Losing a prototype doesn't matter as long as you win the pissing match.

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      • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Wednesday June 09, @10:34AM

        by PiMuNu (3823) on Wednesday June 09, @10:34AM (#1143479)

        Suborbital shuttles though. That was on SN yesterday for example.