Doug Messier over at Parabolic Arc had a post today about the transition from SpaceShipOne to SpaceShipTwo in which he postulates:
That’s a big leap – maybe too much of a leap. Scaling up a small experimental rocket plane — and its carrier aircraft, the WhiteKnightOne — seems to have proven to be a bigger challenge than they thought. Larger airframes, more powerful engines, stronger landing gear…it’s all very complicated — and expensive.
It’s important to note that Scaled Composites has not done any flight testing since 2004 and the next step in their evolution seems to be taking a very long time. Doug further notes that the impact of this delay are obvious:
You want to beat your rivals to market. You want to fly as many millionauts as possible to maximize your profits. And people paying 200 Gs for five minutes of zero G want to be able to float around, not stay strapped to their seats in a cramped cockpit.
Doug’s analysis of this point is right on. Whether they like it or not, by winning the X-Prize in 2004, Scaled Composites has become the thing we measure the progress of private space flight against.
Many people think if they can’t do it, no one can.
This assumption is wrong, and any competitors should note that this delay on their part, coupled with the poor global economy is the prime time to leapfrog them. Competition is what will drive this budding industry forward and it’s time you laid your cards on the table.