Tech Ramblings…

By Dr. T

Pakistani ‘daughter of the soil’ to go on VSS Galactica..

“Cap’in Archer. The Andorian ship is hailing Enterprise. What should we do”…”Hello Pink-skin…”…

This looks like an early episode from the first season of Star Trek (Enterprise). Since my last post is tagged in the ‘space‘ category, my interest in the dark expanse has been reignited. I recently learnt that a Pakistani artist Namira Salim, is part of the crew of seven people who will head into space in Virgin Galactica’s and Scaled Composite’s  “VSS Enterprise” in 2008. This is the first commercial venture taking people to space and will mark as a forerunner to the space age tourism.

Last year, I was hooked on a documentary on Discovery Channel titled “Black Sky: Winning the X Prize“. “” This was about an aerospace engineer named Burt Rutans and his company Scaled Composite’s  who competed for the $10m Ansari X Prize. Burt Rutan’s team of a few dozen people privately funded themselves through Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) to build the worlds first commercial space ship that they called “Space Ship One. They went on to win the Ansar X Prize and later struck a deal with Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Enterprises to launch a commercial space tourism venture called Virgin Galactic.

Interestingly, the Ansari X Prize is funded by Anoushey Ansari, a US based Iranian businesswoman whose the co-founder and Chairman of Prodea Systems, Inc. The goal of the Ansari X Prize was to motivate private companies to build a space craft that could reach the 100 km (a third the distance from the International Space Station) three times in a month to be considered successful. And do this while re-using 80 percent of the aircraft (unlike Nasa’s space shuttles that drop the thruster rockets at atmosphere exit). Many companies sent in their entries out of which Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composite came out as the winner.

Some other people who are selected to be a part of the first seven people to go up in space in VSS Enterprise are listed on Virgin Galactica’s website. Times like this I wish I could fly. But there is still hope. Instead of spending $20m to go up with NASA, I can hope that this will bring the price tag down in my life time and allow space enthusiasts like me a glimpse of the dark horizon through a ticket purchase on Orbitz.com, Priceline.com, or Expedia.com :). For now, space tourism is ticketed at $200,000 for a few minutes of joy ride for Virgins website.   

Below is a link to the pictures of the patented “White Knight” and the badminton shaped “Space Ship One” making its maiden voyage into space. Interestingly, instead of launching from earth through vertical rocket boost, Space Ship one is attached to the belly of White Knight and taken to about 20-25 kms (similar to the series of Bell X Projects), before it is released. It then fires rocket boosters and flies into a vertical position to go into space.

“Beam me up Scotty”…

                 space-ship-one.jpg

For more pictures of White Knight and SpaceShipOne, click here

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August 31, 2006 - Posted by | Space, Technology Talk, Uncategorized

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