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Private companies hold the key to space travel's future
CNN ^ | 30 Jun 2011 | Rich Phillips

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 ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; US: New Mexico
KEYWORDS: newmexico; spacetravel
"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." .....That's the kind of attitude I admire.

1 posted on 06/30/2011 11:15:51 AM PDT by mandaladon
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To: mandaladon; SunkenCiv; All

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.


2 posted on 06/30/2011 11:21:11 AM PDT by gleeaikin
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To: mandaladon

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.


3 posted on 06/30/2011 11:22:52 AM PDT by brownsfan (I miss the America I grew up in.)
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To: mandaladon

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.


4 posted on 06/30/2011 11:23:03 AM PDT by MNDude (so that's what they meant by Carter's second term)
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To: MNDude

“I’ve 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.


5 posted on 06/30/2011 11:26:51 AM PDT by brownsfan (I miss the America I grew up in.)
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To: brownsfan

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. ;)


6 posted on 06/30/2011 11:35:59 AM PDT by PissAndVinegar
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To: PissAndVinegar

“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.


7 posted on 06/30/2011 11:45:42 AM PDT by brownsfan (I miss the America I grew up in.)
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To: brownsfan

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.


8 posted on 06/30/2011 11:56:54 AM PDT by Dan Cooper
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To: mandaladon

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


9 posted on 06/30/2011 12:11:47 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. N.C. D.E. +12 ....( History is a process, not an event ))
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To: mandaladon
The $207 million facility, paid for by New Mexico's taxpayers, is based on the dream of a British billionaire

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.

10 posted on 06/30/2011 12:59:56 PM PDT by CedarDave (Godless Hillary brokers deal: Lady GaGa to Rome to spread "gay pride" depravity at Pope's doorstep)
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To: mandaladon; LegendHasIt; Rogle; leapfrog0202; Santa Fe_Conservative; DesertDreamer; ...

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. )

11 posted on 06/30/2011 1:50:29 PM PDT by CedarDave (Godless Hillary brokers deal: Lady GaGa to Rome to spread "gay pride" depravity at Pope's doorstep)
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To: mandaladon

” 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....


12 posted on 06/30/2011 2:09:00 PM PDT by Uncle Ike (Rope is cheap, and there are lots of trees...)
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