Skip to comments.Private companies hold the key to space travel's future
Posted on 06/30/2011 11:15:48 AM PDT by mandaladon
Sierra County, New Mexico (CNN) -- There are no roller coasters near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. No Ferris wheels, either.
Yet this desert town could soon be a hot destination for thrill-seekers from around the world.
That's because nearby, within New Mexico's high desert valley, is the future home of Spaceport America -- the world's first commercial spaceport.
And it's the first stop for those who want to travel into space.
The $207 million facility, paid for by New Mexico's taxpayers, is based on the dream of a British billionaire
"People used to tell me it would be impossible to build your own spaceship and your own spaceship company and take people into space," says Richard Branson, who heads Virgin Galactic.
"That's the sort of challenge that I love: to prove them wrong."
So far, 500 people have signed up to be among the first space tourists. The cost of the first flights: $200,000 per person.
When they fly, the tourist astronauts' craft will be attached to a mother ship called WhiteKnight 2. It will climb high into the sky, and will then release the spacecraft, called SpaceShip 2, which will roar above the Earth, reaching an altitude of about 350,000 feet.
They will experience weightlessness for about four minutes.
Branson says the $200,000 price tag will come down as flying into space becomes more commonplace -- just like the first airliners.
Branson's family holds tickets for the inaugural flight.
"We've got extensive tests over the next 15 months before myself and my children go into space," he told CNN in May. "And my wife won't forgive me if I don't bring the kids back."
(Excerpt) Read more at edition.cnn.com ...
"That's the sort of challenge that I love: to prove them wrong." .....That's the kind of attitude I admire.
Hi SC: I know this is a significant scientific development that might interest you. I don’t know if it belongs on a ping list you have.
The heavy lifting of development and risk taking for science’s sake can’t be done by the private sector.
A Challenger type disaster would kill any private company.
Sending people to the moon and bringing them back is too expensive of a proof of concept for a company to absorb.
Private enterprise could step in and do satellite launches, even provide lift capability to the ISS.
Government, while usually evil, is necessary sometimes.
government sure doesn’t. I’ll be that 95% of the Apollo mission funding went directly to it’s purpose. Today 95% of the funding would go to government cronies.
I’ve read that we no longer even have the technology to make it to the moon. Talk about moving backwards.
“Ive read that we no longer even have the technology to make it to the moon. Talk about moving backwards.”
After the last shuttle launch, we won’t even have the technology to get to the ISS.
I pretty much disagree with all that you typed and private enterprises have been doing satellite launches for years (decades?)
How is this any different than development of aircraft?
Simplified, this is just a plane that goes higher. Hitting the earth from 4000 ft isn’t any less deadly than hitting it from 350000 ft. ;)
“I pretty much disagree with all that you typed ... “
It’s ok. I figured I’d be in the minority. But you haven’t convinced me. Even if you take the risk issue out, (our litigious society is a factor though), the cost of doing things for science’s sake aren’t what private enterprise is best at doing.
I worked in medical R&D in the 80s and remember when the shift came to private enterprise. Pre 1980s, R&D was important, and well funded. After that, the bottom line for that quarter drove everything. Long term R&D nearly evaporated under the pressure.
No matter, I won’t convince you, and you won’t convince me. I’m ok with disagreement.
What you are missing is that these companies aren’t doing this for science’s sake, but for a profit. That’s why it is costing 200K a seat for this sub-orbital joyride. I hope they make a lot of money.
The R&D for Virgin Galactic was and is being done by Scaled Composites, which developed some of the technology to win the X-Prize, a privately funded competition.
The last issue of Forbes has a nice piece on a company in Las Vegas that bought the NASA patents and is building space station modules. It has one in orbit now and will rent space like a hotel.
There is a price list and everything. It is said to be reasonable for a nation to rent space to have it’s own space ventures
It is already a private commercial reality
This boondoggle and the half billion dollar Rail Runner to Santa Fe (losing bundles of $$ with every wheel turned - fares pay for only 14% of ops) are the legacy of the out-of-office Richardson administration along with some highway overpasses named for him, and investment schemes and other corruption that are still being investigated by the Feds.
NM list PING! Click on the flag to go to the Free Republic New Mexico message page.
(The NM list is available on my FR homepage for anyone to use. Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from the list. )
” There are no roller coasters near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. No Ferris wheels, either. “
I can tell you, from observation, what else TorC doesn’t have —
We were told, repeatedly, that the construction of the Spaceport would revitalize our little town...
Well, I’ve lived in construction boom-towns, and TorC most assuredly ain’t one....