Slashdot: The Rutan SpaceShipOne Revealed
Press-Enterprise: Private manned spacecraft unveiled by California company
MSN Money: Private manned space plane unveiled
This came as a bit of a surprise to me, even though I had heard rumor of it a few days ago.
I’m all for this, IF it’s legitimate. However, I have certain qualms about this. For one thing, Rutan says that what was revealed today was not a scale model or a mockup but the real thing — a vehicle system capable of carrying passengers to orbit, ready to go.
I find that hard to believe because the spaceplane portion doesn’t appear to have anything that I would recognize as a thermal protection system. No tiles, no blankets, no metallic shingles, no ablator, no superalloy shell…it appears, from the pictures, to be just plain composite. How is it going to withstand reentry, even from sub-orbital velocities?
Perhaps he has found some other approach — I don’t know, and a picture can only tell you so much. But for now, until he reveals some more detail on the vehicle’s structures and systems, I’ll be intrigued but skeptical.