Space

The Best Paragraph You Will Read Today

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This is real news about a thing that is really happening in real life today:

The new spacecraft is set to be unveiled as darkness falls this evening at the Mojave Air and Spaceport, according to [Virgin Galactic]. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are expected to christen the spacecraft the "Virgin Space Ship (VSS) Enterprise."

Lots more on the state of private space travel here.

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  1. Can Richardson and the Schwarzenegger then get on it and be jetisoned into space?

    1. Not into orbit, alas.

      1. High altitude works for me. We could BBQ and watch the reentry.

  2. I’m just wondering how much Warty paid for his ticket on that thing.

    1. Wait a minute. Shut the fuck up, Xeones.

  3. There’s a recent Popular Science article on the current state of newspace: “In 2010, The Civilian Space Industry Finally Takes Off.”

    Hope Scaled and Virgin are successful–along with SpaceX, Bigelow, etc.

  4. I don’t get it – I thought this spaceship was supposed to evoke *Star Trek,* what does virginity have to do with it?

    Wait, I think I get it . . .

    1. :::smiled from ear to ear:::

    2. Threadwinner.

    3. Max! That was funny!

    4. Haha, excellent.

  5. Didn’t Land of the Giants start with an unveiling at Mojave?

    1. I am vaguely remembering something about a redhead and masturbation.

      1. Wasn’t that Earth Girls are Easy ?

        1. Ah, Deanna Lund. She was one of those women who I found hot but a little scary when I was little.

          1. Did you mean your age or something else?

  6. Looks like a glider to me. “Space travel”? Not even close.

    1. The big wing and the outer two cockpits are the carrier plane. The delta thing hanging in the middle is the craft. The weird wingspan is so the carrier can spiral upward for three hours before launching the craft.

      The whole thing is very Gerry Anderson.

      1. That has got to be one incredibly strong wing, though. I’m surprised they didn’t link the tails to prevent the two main fuselages from flexing differently, but I suppose they wanted to keep the area clear of the rocket exhaust.

      2. Thanks. Now I have the UFO music in my head.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8RfzkhqBLY

        1. Wow. That was retro in the best possible way.

          1. Oh yeah. It rivals Johnny Quest as “best opening credits” music.

            1. But why did all the chicks on the moon have purple hair? Was that part of the uniform?

              1. I never did understand that. Accroding to The Wikipedia:

                “It never explained why female Moonbase personnel uniformly wore purple wigs and extensive eye make-up (although it has been suggested[by whom?] it was to combat static electricity) and their unusual livery is never alluded to in the series. Gerry Anderson has commented that it made them look more futuristic and that it filmed better under the bright lights, while Sylvia Anderson said she believed wigs would become accepted components of military uniforms by the 1980s. Whenever female Moonbase personnel visited Earth (as Ellis and Barry did from time to time), their lunar uniforms were never worn.”

                But hey, they got the miniskirts right.

        2. what year was that set in?

          1. It flashes right around the beginning: 1980. (Blink and you’ll miss it) Considering that they made UFO in the late 60’s early 70’s, the Andersons’ predictions style and technology-wise were pretty god-awful for only a 10-year lead.

            Straker!

            1. Just last week I bought the UFO Technical Manual
              http://www.amazon.com/Gerry-An…..1905287356
              The guy who sold it to me said “Wow, a book of specs for fictional hardware. Ain’t that a chick magnet.”

              1. 10 PRINT “YOU ARE A GEEK”
                20 GOTO 10

  7. This is the best:

    What’s Worse Than Being a Former Enron Adviser?
    Is there anything Rasmussen Reports won’t take a poll on? From the firm’s latest release:

    In one sample, John Fund was viewed favorably by 12% of voters and unfavorably by 22%. . . . However, when Fund was identified with the Wall Street Journal, his numbers jumped to 34% favorable and 20% unfavorable. But mentioning the New York Times seems to have the opposite effect:

    Most voters (55%) don’t know enough about [former Enron adviser] Paul Krugman to venture even a soft opinion about him. Those with an opinion are fairly evenly divided?22% favorable and 22% unfavorable. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just one-in-10 voters has a strong opinion about Krugman, with four percent (4%) voicing a Very Favorable opinion and six percent (6%) a Very Unfavorable view. But if people are asked about New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, the numbers shift significantly. Once he is identified with that publication, his unfavorable ratings jump 15 points to 37%. The number with a Very Unfavorable view more than triples to 20%. However, Krugman’s favorable ratings show little improvement, inching up only three points to 25%. Rasmussen says the results “highlight the importance of question wording, especially for lesser known people such as Krugman.” To our mind, though, the more significant finding is that the New York Times is even more unpopular than Enron.

    1. You’re not fooling us. That’s from the WSJ’s opinionjournal.com

  8. we’re gonna have to start the “stratosphere club” membership at some point, too.

    1. I heard that in zero gravity it’s easier to get up.

      1. even better!

        that means rides might even get insurance coverage – argument that there might be fewer side effects than with traditional ED meds!

  9. This is better, TS:

    Swedish store pulls plug on N. Korean jeans

    STOCKHOLM ? A Stockholm department store on Saturday removed a new line of North Korean-made designer jeans from its shelves, saying it wants to avoid courting controversy through ties with the isolated communist nation.

    The PUB department store’s management had not been informed that the label would be carried in its space, and pulled the plug when it became aware of it, said Rene Stephansen, the store’s director.

    “For us this is not a question of Noko Jeans ? this is a question about a political issue that PUB doesn’t want to be associated with,” he said. “This is not the forum for the discussion” of North Korea.

    The Noko Jeans line is the brainchild of three Swedish entrepreneurs who hoped their label would help break North Korea’s isolation through increased trade with the West. The jeans come only in black, partly because blue jeans are associated with the United States and are stigmatized in North Korea.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200…..orea_jeans

    Relates to this Reason Piece (I really hated that mole-faced fucker):

    https://reason.com/blog/2009/12…..f-the-week

    1. You know, it takes anti-business pussies like the Swedes to pull the plug on a very good idea:

      “A Stockholm department store on Saturday removed a new line of North Korean-made designer jeans from its shelves, saying it wants to avoid courting controversy through ties with the isolated communist nation.”

      Yeah, right – avoid “controversy.”

      “The Noko Jeans line is the brainchild of three Swedish entrepreneurs who hoped their label would help break North Korea’s isolation through increased trade with the West.”

      Those three Swedes are living in the WRONG COUNTRY! They should move their business to the more libertarian CHINA.

    2. What’s good about the idea of putting money into the pockets of the NORK regime by helping them find markets for the products of slave labor?

      1. What’s good about the idea of putting money into the pockets of the NORK regime by helping them find markets for the products of slave labor?

        The very same question was asked time ago about investing in Vietnam – now that country is the “IT” place for investing. Give it time…

        1. You don’t expect people to have expectations that the markets can liberalize oppressive regimes do you, Old Mexican?

          We’re supposed to think like Dean: Embargo, embargo, embargo. We know how well that works. It makes the country more isolated, more paranoid, and more broke, all of which makes them more extreme in their pilfering and control of their populace (think post-GulfWar Iraq of the 1990s under the oil embargo). If that country decides down that dark path of getting respect the way it sees other nations getting respect–with nukes–well then the pretext is established for going in with explosive intervention (are you listening, Iran?), thus setting the stage for the big banks and the larger industries to go in and establish their politically-connected parasitic market regimes for the inevitable taxpayer-financed rebuild.

          Seriously, Old Mexican, why would you allow a freer market to gradually break down barriers organically when you can foist The Big State Fiat Solution?

          //wink wink//

          1. It depends. If the country is a giant plantation and everyone outside of the regime are slaves, then I don’t see markets liberalizing the regime. Where once the labor class were brutally forced to produce rice and act in shitty plays, now they will be forced to produce rice, jeans, booze, and act in shitty plays.

            It really depends: if the factories are actually owned and run by a foreign private company which actually pays wages to the workers (therefore introducing some seed of capitalism, and if the wages are better than normal work, a goal of being involved with it), or whether the Swedes are simply subcontracting slaveowning to Kim Jong Il and profiting from it.

      2. Currently, they use that slave labor to counterfeit U.S. hundred dollar bills, so I’ll take jeans and trade over that.

  10. “The jeans come only in black”

    Goddamn emo bastards.

  11. Please tell me they didn’t play the shitty Enterprise theme music as it flew by.

    1. We know you love that song, dude. Nice try.

      1. But I *don’t* have faith of the heart! I don’t!

        1. Whatever, man. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

    2. I’m just hoping that the syndicators of “Enterprise” will have the decency to splice a clip of SpaceShipTwo into the show’s opening credits sequence.

  12. Re: Pro Libertate

    Hope Scaled and Virgin are successful–along with SpaceX, Bigelow, etc.

    Hey, it would not have happened without the government “investing” in Space first – the Statist Left told me so.

  13. Meh, let me know when they’ve recovered their R&D costs.

    1. Has the airplane industry recovered theirs yet?

  14. I love the elegance of the mothership and spacecraft, compare that to the kludge that is the Apollo Constellation program

    1. At least NASA’s stuff can actually go somewhere, if only to the moon and back.
      Sub-orbital tourist flights for millionaires is not space travel.

      1. When wa the last time NASA sent a human out of LEO?
        1976?

          1. Thanks, I was too lazy to look it up.

      2. Dude, seriously? We haven’t put a dork on the lunar dunes in ages.

        As for the Constellation, Nipplemancer and I apparently agree that it is kludge. I would go a bit further and call it “shit from a dog’s ass”. But hey, I’m biased, I tend to think bureaucracies come up with Bad Ideas.

        1. you couldn’t pay me to get on top of that rocket, yet if I had the 200K to send me up in Rutan’s ship I would spend it in a heartbeat. That is a testament to private enterprise vs. government enterprise.

      3. the shuttle is a yugo and WhiteKnightTwo is a Mercedes AMG 500

  15. Is Zefram Cochrane involved in this project?

  16. This is totally fascist. Space travel is a fundamental right that should be available to all patriotic red-blooded Americans – rich or poor.

    1. SHH! You’re five years early. Seriously people, we’ll never build an egalitarian utopia if you can’t stick to the script!

  17. That ship is better than their first model, which we covered at Urkobold.

    1. Baked, my Friend – I think we’re seeing evolution thanks to the free market. Already they’ve made improvements!

      1. Yes, we are, and a hell of a lot faster than build-by-bureaucracy.

        As an aside, here’s an annoying anecdote: On my daily commute, I pass a state-owned building under construction. It’s been under construction for over two years. In that time, patches of raw desert around it have become full blown private structures, completed and in business. Frustrating how slow and with what waste govt enables things to be done.

        1. When I was in Greece in 1979, I noticed an awful lot of partially-built buildings, just foundations with some rebar sticking out. Someone told me that under Greek tax law, you were taxed on a vacant lot, or on a completed building, but not while a building was under construction. Ah, unintended consequences.

          1. Same thing in Egypt. Cairo is full of “unfinished” extra floors never intended for completion.

    2. BP,

      Are you kidding? The Eagle rules. I’d like one.

  18. Key word: “Sub-orbital”.

    This is just another ballistic flier that aims to simulate zero-g by launch itself into a high-atmosphere ballistic arc.

    Unfortunately, to actually get into orbit, you need to get up to mach 23.
    Unfortunately, even the highest speed hypersonic aircraft aren’t even 1/3 of the way there.

    You want to get into orbit, you need all sorts of crazy experimental shit like scramjets and then some.

    1. While you would be technically correct that low earth orbital velocity would be equivalent to a Mach number of 23 at sea level, the Mach number is undefined in a vacuum.
      The space shuttle is a hypersonic glider that is capable of flight at Mach 25 during reentry.

    2. Note that orbit isn’t their only goal. If you can do suborbital, you can get to anywhere on the globe in a couple of hours.

  19. The whole commercial space thing is a lovely idea, but when the Copenhagen crazies get finished, we’ll be lucky to be permitted candles to read our copies of Al Gore’s books at night.

  20. Thanks. Now I have the UFO music in my head.

    Here’s some different UFO music. Much better, IMO.

    1. Yuk, I’ll take jazzy hipster riffs from the 60s, any day.

      1. Then maybe listen to some good jazzy hipster riffs that are Miles in the Sky.

        1. You had me at Miles. Good find, still not sure how this would play as a theme-song for a woefully outdated but cool sci-fi show. Miles is too earnest — did he ever have a silly bone in his body?

        2. Oh, and when I am talking about jazzy hipster riffs, I’m actually talking about this. Don’t strip away my Miles Davis card, there’s always room for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Umm, right?

          1. Well, I was going for the UFO theme, and Miles in the Sky was the first thing I could think of for 60’s jazz. I probably should have looked at some of Sun Ra’s album / song titles. And no, I don’t think Miles had a silly bone in his body. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of him smiling.

            As for Herb Alpert, I’m going to feign amnesia about that. Couldn’t you have at least said Astrud Gilberto? At least she was beautiful.

            1. Excellent! On topic, I can imagine this kind of music piping through the speakers while Spaceship 2 passengers are boarding. It’s relaxing, funky, and evocative of lounge lizards, cigarette smoke, and, um, other things you won’t find on Spaceship 2. It will work particularly well if Spaceship 2 can make more spectacular use of the Virgin America fleet’s mood lighting.

            2. Ugh. I don’t know why I constantly repeat phrases like that. I used preview, too.

  21. Hey, does anyone smart know why the spaceship has such small portholes? Is there a structural limitation related to pressures or temperature? For $200,000, I want a big window.

    I’m thinking, of course, of the well-worn cliche of gigantic transparent panels on ship bridges. I know that in movies these are simply to give the audience something to look at, but are big panel windows technically unfeasible?

    1. OK, after watching the Spaceship 2 simulated video, I see that the portholes are more like large platters than small saucers, and that they provide views from all “sides” of the craft, once you’re up there, which would probably satisfy my demand for excellent viewing. Still not sure why the glass-bottomed boat principle can’t be applied to a spaceship.

      1. It’s a smaller hole through which the superheated plasma, generated by re-entry, can come through and incinerate you, should the window fail.

    2. We’re still not redy to bring transparant aluminum to market.

      1. Don’t Macs have voice recognition software by now?

        1. “Hello computer.”

  22. bigger window : thicker glass
    thicker glass : more mass
    more mass : more fuel
    more fuel : more mass
    more mass: more fuel….

    1. That’s almost poetic, Nipple. This suggests that bigger windows are more “massive” than the opaque metallic parts/frames/wiring that currently occupy the space a larger window requires. I’ll assume, therefore, that no windows would make the spaceship overall more fuel efficient. The mass/fuel ratio seems to hinge on how thick the glass is. Question now becomes, what does the ship have to give up to support a 1 meter x 1 meter porthole?

  23. I’m proud to say I went to high school with and still keep in contact with one of the engineers.

  24. Video of VG’s 1st

    God that is awesome, and Branson is a fucking stud^n for making it happen.

    1. I agree, but in the interest of sucking all the fun out of cool stuff, as is the norm around here, Virgin Galactic couldn’t launch their ships out of New Mexico without the use of tax-funded fields — “state and local backing,” as I saw it on one article about the event. I’m looking around for examples of state regulations that could possibly have retarded Branson’s efforts, preventing him from realizing his dream even more quickly.

      There’s a video on his site where he talks about one of the prototypes spinning out of control and the rocket explosion that killed a handful of people (on his payroll). It sent a chill up my spine because I expected a rebuttal video from Congress where they talk about the need to prevent wasteful and deadly uses of private money, or some such bullshit.

      For some reason, I have no idea why, Samuel Pierpont Langley sprang to mind.

  25. It’s a glorified Disney ride. Like it or not, any meaningful advances in human space travel will involve enormous expenditures and risk, the kind of money only very wealthy governments (or consortia of governments) will be able to afford, and even that scenario is becoming increasingly unlikely in this era of unsustainable debt loads and “free” health care.

    1. You’re the type who stands around a newborn and the doting parents and talks about how expensive college will be, and all the manner of fatal ailments the child could get, aren’t you?

    2. Nuh-uh! In Contact, the private gazillionaire and his massive consortium of eeeee-vil corporations built a second machine, using private money, that nobody knew about! And then Jody Foster, that hot little minxie, went up in it.

  26. I wonder if Branson can be convinced to change the name of the company from Virgin to Pan Am?

    1. I think Braniff is available.

      1. Virgin PanBraniff has a nice ring to it. But of course in space, no one can hear you ring.

  27. I love these beautiful airline. I love airline under a different type of using mood lighting.

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