SpaceX's astronaut launch debut won't be the first human spaceflight to American soil since 2011

Dec 21, 2019
32
10
1,535
"SpaceX's first crewed mission... doesn't mark the return of human spaceflight to American soil. The suborbital space tourism company Virgin Galactic notched that milestone..."

Jeeze, Wall, are you on Branson's PR staff or something? Yes, the VSS Unity is technologically innovative, and I hope the space tourist business does well. And yes it's fun to watch, and I would have given my right arm to be one of the pilots. I bet it was a helluva ride, but it qualified as "manned space flight" only if you use NASA's current dumbed-down 50-miles-high definition of space. Even so, it barely cleared that low bar; Alan Shepard went TWICE as high almost SIXTY YEARS ago.

To compare the Virgin Galactic hop with SpaceX's upcoming manned orbital mission, and somehow claim that VG "beat" SpaceX to manned U.S. space flight, is just pathetic. It reminds me of when in 1965 the Soviets, watching the astronauts of America's Gemini 6A and Gemini 7 maneuver into orbital formation flight only six feet apart, whined to anyone who would listen that the USSR had achieved the first "rendezvous" three years earlier... though Vostok 3 and 4 had never come closer than about four miles.

To make a comparison, things have got to be at least comparable, and the Virgin Galactic "joy ride" just isn't in the same class as a working, usable man-rated space craft. You might as well compare Musk's SpaceX to Disney's Space Mountain.
 
Last edited:
May 25, 2020
1
4
15
This article makes a glaringly invalid comparison when it says that "But, despite what you may have heard, it doesn't mark the return of human spaceflight to American soil." w.r.t. SpaceX's upcoming crewed space flight to the I.S.S. Specifically, Virgin Galactic's "human spaceflight" program is not in any way designed to take humans into orbital space, where the I.S.S. resides at about 254 miles -- it is only designed to take "space tourists" up to around 50+ miles for several minutes, which is far short of what "human spaceflight" is usually referred to.

Virgin Galactic's "human spaceflight program" seems to me just to be a gimmick for the rich and famous. It's basically the 1%'s version of a theme park ride. SpaceX, on the other hand, is actually sending humans into orbital space and to the I.S.S., which is much ( orders of a magnitude ) harder than getting up to the edge of space and then gliding back down to earth.

It seems that the author of the article doesn't understand the above differences and just conflates "human spaceflight" with "getting to the edge of space", or, if the author does understand the differences, then he decided to equate what Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are doing just for the sensationalist hype.

Utter tripe.

jdb2
 
The historical US Air Force (and so NASA) peculiar definition of space (80 km) was invented so 8 instead of 1 of their X15 pilots could claim to be an astronaut [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_X-15 ], in effect making sure the program was a space program. But now US has introduced an orbital Space Force, and in any case common usage is the Kármán line (100 km) definition.

You can as well call Blue Origins oversize sounding rockets for spacecrafts*, or climbers that have made Mount Everest and other 8.5 km peaks astronauts since they have ascended Earth atmosphere scale height (ascended to 1/e or ~1/3 of surface pressure) [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Everest , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scale_height ]. Reversely ISS crews have only ascended a small part of Earth gravity well (ascended to ~ 2/3 or 1-1/e of surface gravity); the orbital definition is a practical one in which case the Kármán line is optimistic with a factor 2 [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_Field_and_Steady-State_Ocean_Circulation_Explorer ].

*That said, I think most people will call Blue Origin's suborbital passenger astronauts, while mostly Virgin Galactic's passengers will call themselves astronauts.
 
Last edited:
May 26, 2020
3
1
15
Yup, a classic case of if you can't meet the goal, just move the goalposts.

Shame really, as the X-15 did pass the 100km line twice.
 
  • Like
Reactions: p3orion
Dec 21, 2019
32
10
1,535
I think most people will call Blue Origin's suborbital passenger astronauts, while mostly Virgin Galactic's passengers will call themselves astronauts.
Mostly? Every damn one will call himself an astronaut! Then again, if you pay six figures of your own money for a rocket ride, you've probably bought the right to call yourself whatever you want. Just don't ask ME to agree.
 
Last edited:

ASK THE COMMUNITY

Latest posts