CammNut

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EADS has unveiled its concept for a suborbital space tourism vehicle, a sort of EuroSpaceShipTwo.

Here are some excerpts from the press release:

This business jet sized vehicle is designed to carry four passengers 100km up into space giving more than three minutes of "zero G" or weightlessness.

The Astrium space jet will take off and land conventionally from a standard airport using its jet engines. However, once the craft is airborne at an altitude of about 12km, the rocket engines will be ignited to give sufficient acceleration to reach 100km. In only 80 seconds the craft will have climbed to 60km altitude. The rocket propulsion system is then shut down as the ship’s inertia carries it on to over 100km.

The pilot will control the craft using small rocket thrusters enabling passengers to hover weightlessly for 3 minutes. After slowing down during descent, the jet engines are restarted for a normal and safe landing at a standard airfield. The entire trip will last approximately an hour and a half.

Astrium is proposing the one stage system as it is considered the safest and most economical to operate. If development begins in 2008, a first commercial flight would be possible by 2012.

The development of a new vehicle able to operate in altitudes between aircraft (20km) and below satellites (200km) could well be a precursor for rapid transport ‘point-to-point’ vehicles or quick access to space.


Well, at least the pictures look nice...
 

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Orionblamblam

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Matej said:
Good to know that also the Europe is doing something, but aren't four seats insufficient for a commercial use?

They think that a four-seat vehicle charging about $200,000 per seat and costing one BILLION dollars to develop will be a money-maker.

Yeah.

Where did these fellers get their economics advisor?

dr_evil.jpg
 

Orionblamblam

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Oh, but it gets better. MUCH better...

http://eupolitics.einnews.com/news.php?wid=126339836

The European Union's industry commissioner on Thursday blasted companies' plans to offer space flights to tourists, calling them a gimmick for the privileged elite.

"It's only for the super rich, which is against my social convictions," European Commission Vice President Guenter Verheugen said.
....
Verheugen, a German center-left politician who holds the industry and enterprise portfolio within the EU Commission, said the new space race left him uneasy.

"I have strong reservations," he said. "It will always be a very privileged type of tourism."
...
"I have no sympathy for this. It deserves no support."



WOW.

How the hell did a moron like this gain a position of power with respect to "industry and enterprise?"
 

sferrin

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Orionblamblam said:
Oh, but it gets better. MUCH better...

http://eupolitics.einnews.com/news.php?wid=126339836

The European Union's industry commissioner on Thursday blasted companies' plans to offer space flights to tourists, calling them a gimmick for the privileged elite.

"It's only for the super rich, which is against my social convictions," European Commission Vice President Guenter Verheugen said.
....
Verheugen, a German center-left politician who holds the industry and enterprise portfolio within the EU Commission, said the new space race left him uneasy.

"I have strong reservations," he said. "It will always be a very privileged type of tourism."
...
"I have no sympathy for this. It deserves no support."



WOW.

How the hell did a moron like this gain a position of power with respect to "industry and enterprise?"

Maybe he thinks it'll make money by flying the poor up at tax-payer expense. :D
 

Sundog

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I actually agree with him. It isn't accomplishing anything we don't already know engineering wise. If they can actually make some money off of it, that's great, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn't really going to expand the business product.

Now, if this is a first step in making suborbital flights halfway around the world, well then that could lead to something. But I'm not seeing that at this point.

Get me into orbit for $200,000.00, then you will be talking about something that matters.
 

Orionblamblam

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Sundog said:
I actually agree with him. It isn't accomplishing anything we don't already know engineering wise. If they can actually make some money off of it, that's great, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn't really going to expand the business product.

The only way to "expand the business product" is to actually build the damned thing. And that means that the first generation vehicle - as with the first generation of *any* new technology - is going to cost a lot. Which means only the rich can afford it. But when the rich start paying, competition and innovation kick in, the technology improves and gets cheaper, and more and more people can afford it.

Today at the store I saw a 2 Gigabyte memory stick on sale for $19. A year ago a 1 Gig stick cost $80. In earlly 2005 I bought a 256 meg stick for about $75. 64 meg sticks, the kind I first bought for somewhere upwards of $50 some years back, are now handed out like candy.

Verheugen knows not the first thing about economics. He should be fired *pronto.* And whoever gave him the job should also be fired... out of a cannon.


If you want to be able to get into orbit for 200 grand... then cheer on those who are building the tech to simply *lob* people suborbitally for 200 grand. Because right now, 200 grand gets you *nowhere.*
 

elmayerle

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I'll second Orionblamblam here. Look at the history of the development of private and Ocmmercial aviation, not to mention their effects on military aviation, or automobiles; it starts with those with the most disposable income funding efforts and, as this drives technology, it becomes available to more and more people.

I see no reason to suppose that the same wouldn't happen here.
 

Matej

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Orionblamblam said:
And that means that the first generation vehicle - as with the first generation of *any* new technology - is going to cost a lot. Which means only the rich can afford it. But when the rich start paying, competition and innovation kick in, the technology improves and gets cheaper, and more and more people can afford it.

As cut from the script of economy. I absolutely agree.
 

Sentinel Chicken

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Regarding the EADS design- I'm curious how it will manage re-entry? I'm admittedly naive in this area of understanding, but I thought Rutan's solution in the feather configuration allowing for a low-energy/low-G stable re-entry like a shuttlecock was a bit of creative genius.
 

Simon666

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Orionblamblam said:
The only way to "expand the business product" is to actually build the damned thing. And that means that the first generation vehicle - as with the first generation of *any* new technology - is going to cost a lot. Which means only the rich can afford it. But when the rich start paying, competition and innovation kick in, the technology improves and gets cheaper, and more and more people can afford it.
This is about using taxpayers money, everyone's money, to develop a product only to be used by the very rich. 99.99% of taxpayers is not going to see back anything for that money.


Orionblamblam said:
Today at the store I saw a 2 Gigabyte memory stick on sale for $19. A year ago a 1 Gig stick cost $80. In earlly 2005 I bought a 256 meg stick for about $75. 64 meg sticks, the kind I first bought for somewhere upwards of $50 some years back, are now handed out like candy.
This reminds me of the joke that Bill Gates once mentioned: "If General Motors had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that get a 1,000 miles to the gallon." To which general motors released a press statement "If General Motors had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they painted new lines on the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull ove r to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue.

For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Only one person at a time could use the car unless you bought "CarNT," but then you would have to buy more seats.

6. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive -- but it would only run on five percent of the roads.

7. The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single "general protect ion fault" warning light.

8. The airbag system would ask, "Are you sure?" before deploying.

9. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the antenna.

10. GM would require all car buyers to also purchase a deluxe set of Rand McNally Road maps (now a GM subsidiary), even though they neither need nor want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause the car's performance to diminish by 50 percent or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation by the Justice Department.

11. Every time GM introduced a new car, car buyers would have to learn to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

12. You'd have to press the "start" button to turn the engine off.

==================================================

Point being anyway that it's comparing apples and oranges. There's not much room (if any) for improvement in rocket engines. They already run at above 95% efficiency. Only marginal improvements in material sience can make the things a few percent lighter or less costly. Same thing regarding the development of commercial aviation or automobiles. Nowadays, it is a mature technology too and we don't see any new major breakthroughs either. Comparing with the computer industry or early commercial aviation industry is totally out of place for me.
 

Antonio

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"If General Motors had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

;D
 

Orionblamblam

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Simon666 said:
This is about using taxpayers money, everyone's money...

Had that been the arguement stated, I would ahve had no particular trouble with it. but the arguement stated starts off with: "It's only for the super rich, which is against my social convictions," which is damned foolish.


to develop a product only to be used by the very rich. 99.99% of taxpayers is not going to see back anything for that money.

Hogwash. The very rich fly the first generation. The rich fly the second. The well-off fly the third. The financially average fly the fourth. But no first generation vehicle means no fourth generation vehicle.


Point being anyway that it's comparing apples and oranges. There's not much room (if any) for improvement in rocket engines.

Again, hogwash. Thrust to weight and Isp are NOT the only relevant performance metrics. Time at full throttle before an overhaul is needed is one. Statistical likelihood of premature shutdown is another. Chances of catastrophic failure is another. Dollars (Euros, pounds, whatever)
per pound of thrust at X seconds Isp is another.

Imagine an engine with the thrust and Isp of the Shuttle SSME that weighs 10% less, needs an overhaul after a minimum of 500 missions and costs less than a Volkswagon.

THAT is where relevant improvements will come. And the *only* way to get improvement like that is to build and fly a *lot*. And flying rich people to the edge of space on a daily basis is the only practical way to fly that often.
 

CammNut

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Sentinel Chicken said:
Regarding the EADS design- I'm curious how it will manage re-entry?

Seemingly EADS is being secretive about the re-entry and descent profile, and deliberately excluded it from the promotional video so as not to give the game away. But apparently it's the reason the vehicle is a canard (not has a canard, note. The thing at the front is a foreplane - the configuration is a canard...sorry, pet subject of mine).
 

FutureSpaceTourist

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In reality I think history will prove that this thread should be in Space Projects not Aerospace as I don't see this spaceplane ever being built! Certainly there was still no funding a year ago (see http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2009/04/03/324809/astrium-we-are-committed-to-space-jet.html) and I haven't seen anything since. Please post if you have any more recent news.

EADS' projected development (including certification) cost of €1B is about four times what Virgin Galactic is paying Scaled Composites for the development of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo. So the operational cost will have to be much lower to recoup that kind of investment.

Some slides about the proposed project can be found at http://spatioportfrance.free.fr/docs/SpaceTourism-12mars08/RaesTls-3AF-HuguesLaporteWeywada-12mars08.ppt
 

FutureSpaceTourist

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Well amazingly it seems that EADS is still internally funding some work on their spaceplane concept, although they still don't have a partner to fund development:

[quote author=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12176754]
12 January 2011

Space tourism jet work continues

The European project to develop a space jet for fare-paying passengers is still very much alive, says EADS Astrium.

The plane, which would make short hops above the atmosphere, was announced in 2007 and then almost immediately put on hold because of the global downturn.

But Astrium, Europe's largest space company, says internal development work continues and it will spend a further 10m euros (£9m) on the concept in 2011.

"We keep the investment going," said Astrium CEO François Auque.

"We continue to mature the concept, maintaining the minimum team, in order that when we find the relevant partnership we are ready and have progressed sufficiently," he told reporters on Wednesday at the company's rocket manufacturing facility at Les Mureaux just north of Paris.

[...]
[/quote]
 

Matej

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Intellectual exercise. The partner is much important, because the space tourism in any form was removed from the official EADS strategy.
 

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