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A similar question to that one, but this one is concerning the suborbital SpaceShipOne spaceplane. Could it be reactivated for space tourism or other purposes? I remember in 2011 some sources stated that the SpaceShipOne also was to be used for tourism flights, along with the SpaceShipTwo or something like that.

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  • $\begingroup$ 1. What the site does with its content, including user submitted content, is part of the terms of service you agreed to when creating an account (ie they dont need to ask your permission, they already have it because when you post to the site you do so under a permissible license), and 2. the place to ask about this is the Meta site for a given SE site, not the main site itself. $\endgroup$ – Moo Sep 26 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Moo Thank you. I can't ask on meta because I'm unregistered. Just one more question: why do you lose two reputation points for that? Isn't it considered something good which, if anything, should gain you reputation? $\endgroup$ – Giovanni Sep 26 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ Its more likely you attracted a downvote, which will cost you 2 reputation. I havent seen any evidence normal SE network actions have an associated rep gain or loss. $\endgroup$ – Moo Sep 26 at 11:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Moo This happened when a question got tweeted. I don't think anyone downvoted any of my questions just when the tweets occured. I'm pretty sure it was because of the tweet. $\endgroup$ – Giovanni Sep 26 at 11:44
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There is absolutely no reason to ever even conceive of flying it again. It was retired because it successfully did the sole task it was designed to do.

SpaceShipOne was unsafe1, barely met its requirements2 (which was certainly good enough) and was designed specifically and solely to win the prize.

The tiny crew compartment meant that there was zero incentive to certify it for passengers; it would certainly have not been economic for tourist flights.

enter image description here

I wouldn't call it a prototype since it was designed to meet certain requirements, met them, and was retired before it killed anybody.

1 "SpaceShipOne had lost control. It spiraled up, making twenty-nine rotations."

2 "To solve the problem that SpaceShipOne barely reached space even when much lighter than it would have been for an Ansari X Prize attempt..."

Source: Burt Rutan's Race to Space, Dan Linehan, 2011

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    $\begingroup$ @Giovanni the point is that there is absolutely no reason to ever even conceive of flying it again. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Sep 24 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ Sure, one could build a new one that might, maybe, be economical for tourism. It's called SpaceShipTwo. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Sep 24 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Giovanni: you said 'it would have to be modified anyway (or one could build a new one)'. Organic Marble has pointed out that that's what they did and the heavily modified new one they built is ... SpaceShipTwo. $\endgroup$ – tfb Sep 24 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Giovanni for more seats they need more cabin space, which means expanding the cabin, which means changing aerodynamics, weight balance, centre of gravity etc, which means corresponding accommodations elsewhere... Which brings us, as others have said, back to SpaceShipTwo. $\endgroup$ – Moo Sep 24 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Giovanni the X-Prize requirements were “ build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to 100 kilometers above the Earth's surface, twice within two weeks”, and SpaceShipOne did this with a three person cabin, but each flight made was done with just the pilot and some representative ballast for passengers. There was absolutely no space in the cabin for any more seating. Scaled Composites project then became a follow on craft to carry passengers. They could never have carried four passengers without expanding the cabin, and I refer to my previous comment on that. $\endgroup$ – Moo Sep 25 at 9:15
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SpaceShipOne was retired so quickly because it was a prototype.

One of the key lessons-learned over the last seventy-plus years was that the waterfall model does not work when applied to creating something that is substantially new.

Another of the key lessons-learned in the same timeframe was that prototyping is a very good way of what I call "debugging the blank sheet of paper", as in "this blank sheet of paper is supposed to contain the design of a spacecraft. Fix it!"

A final key lesson-learned is that prototypes should be tossed. The purpose of building a prototype is to start solving the blank sheet of paper problem. In doing so, many of the rules regarding what constitutes good engineering judgment oftentimes were ignored.

Not all organizations have learned this lesson. Scaled Composites apparently has. They built a functional prototype, gained some knowledge from that endeavor, and then they threw it out. They then built another prototype and they threw that out, too.

There is nothing wrong with throwing out a prototype. Nothing at all. On the other hand, there are many things wrong with not throwing out a prototype. Throwing out a prototype is not a sunk cost. The prototype did its job, and far more cost effectively than a waterfall model based approach possibly could.

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    $\begingroup$ Your answer is rather an opinion. Which one is the other prototype you're referring to? $\endgroup$ – Giovanni Sep 24 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ I cannot agree with this answer. Prototyping is extremely common in all development methodologies, you are making huge assumptions. You are also pushing agile software development thinking where it doesn't belong. $\endgroup$ – GdD Sep 24 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ @GdD: I think you may be misreading the answer he is arguing that prototyping is good, and the idea of a prototype which you plan to throw away dates back, at least, to The Mythical Man-Month in 1975, long before any idea of 'agile' was invented. $\endgroup$ – tfb Sep 24 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ @tfb - It goes much further back than that. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Sep 24 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ @GdD The Space Exploration Technologies Corp (aka SpaceX) has succeeded so well because it understands the concept of prototyping, and not just software. The Falcon 1 was retired because it was a prototype. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Sep 24 at 19:16

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