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InfoQ Homepage Podcasts Dan Kreigh on Building SpaceShipOne and Designing Flying Cars

Dan Kreigh on Building SpaceShipOne and Designing Flying Cars


In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Dan Kreigh about his experiences as the lead structural analyst working on SpaceShipOne and his personal interest in designing and building a flying car.

Key Takeaways

  • Building SpaceShipOne was an iterative and incremental project
  • There are many parallels between the development of SpaceShipOne and an agile software product
  • Dan’s definition of a flying car is one that you can drive on the freeway and to the store, then drive to an airport and take off and fly to your next destination
  • There are a number of debates about the best designs for flying cars with multiple different approaches to addressing the challenges
  • Dan’s approach is to build a flying car which will fit in a home garage using well understood technologies and incremental development
  • 0:26 Introductions
  • 0:48 What a structural analyst does
  • 1:32 The story of SpaceShipOne
  • 1:55 The Ansari X Prize as a motivator for building SpaceShipOne
  • 2:35 The unique design aspects for safe re-entry from space
  • 4:01 The parallels with software engineering
  • 4:12 The minimum viable complexity needed to solve the problem of getting into and out of space safely
  • 5:48 Building the space ship in small increments and learning from feedback
  • 6:35 Because the mother ship used the same designs as the space ship they were able to learn faster
  • 6:58 Describing the increments in building SpaceShipOne
  • 7:20 Contrasting the incremental approach with other space vehicle designs
  • 8:05 The challenges of building flying cars
  • 8:46 Dan’s definition of a flying car is one that you can drive on the freeway and to the store, then drive to an airport and take off and fly to your next destination
  • 9:02 Many of the vehicles being talked about are not flying cars, they are electric helicopters, which address a completely different challenge – they won’t be able to drive on the road
  • 9:50 Dan is working on a true roadable aeroplane that can fit in a home garage
  • 10:42 The problem with most flying car concepts is they don’t fit in a garage
  • 11:10 The AeroMobil flying car is priced at over $1M
  • 11:20 A flying car should not be more expensive than a home-built aeroplane
  • 11:56 One of the great debates among flying car enthusiasts – 3 or 4 wheels
  • 12:15 Dan’s design is a 3 wheeled version; the DMV considers 3 wheeled vehicles as motorcycles which will make registration easier  garage
  • 12:24 The second great debate is to have detachable wings which stay at the airport or not – if you’re clever enough you can take them with you
  • 13:08 The last great debate is whether to have one or two engines – Dan’s design has a 50HP engine for the road and an aircraft engine for flying
  • 15:08 Having two engines means that in the event of a problem with the flying engine you can still drive home, even if it is a long drive
  • 14:46 Dan feels he can have one built within the next two years
  • 16:02 Dan’s ambition to ship the flying car to Hawaii and use it to travel from island to island
  • 16:57 The incremental approach Dan is taking to the design and development of the flying car
  • 17:14 This is an intentionally simple design using well understood technologies
  • 17:58 Describing the design
  • 19:28 The great resources and support that Dan has from the people at Scaled Composites
  • 19:57 The approach is similar to using design patterns in software


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