Sunday, June 27, 2004

Spaceship One "Issues"

New Scientist is reporting that Spaceship one suffered some rather alarming failures on its first flight that will delay any X-Prize attempt until they are ironed out.

Note that as this is a completely new type of plane certain things are going to break.....that's why we have test flights. These will be ironed out and it will fly again, new problems will arise, they will be fixed, this is how anything gets working (even ships....a far more mature technology...have shakedown cruises). For perspective, one of the more successful fighter planes of the last 30 years, the F-14, had all sorts of troubles in flight testing, including crashes, as the little gremlins that don't show up in computer simulations were one by one discovered. Knownothing quidnuncs almost got the program cancelled. That they were ignored is fortunate, but this sort of panic at the first lack of perfection is one of the more onerous issues facing engineers today IMHO.

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