too expensive to fly into space.
I said it. The emperor is naked. It doesn’t matter how many of his
loyal subjects stand around and deny it, the old guy is standing here in
front of God and everybody, butt naked - and he’s disgustingly ugly as
too expensive to fly into space. I said it again.
There are a number of reasons and nearly ALL of them politically inspired
or with sorry political roots that run deep. So to save myself several
pages and you the agony of reading through it to get to the main point
– let us skip the agony and get to the main point right now. What
we need is a breakthrough so that all of us together – along with my dog,
my grandmother and my baby niece can all pile on a spaceship and get the
hell out of Dodge.
to do that we need to get from here to there.
and six other members of your family reunion and your favorite dog drove
down to the Kennedy Space Center and if congress and an army of security
people didn’t try and stop you first, you folks could load up on a space
shuttle and fly into LOW earth orbit for a week of fun and frolic.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that they would charge your
VISA something around $500 million fore the trip. And it would be a fair
charge – because this is roughly what it costs the taxpayer to provide
this service for you.
this has been done before. Not through NASA (because they won’t allow
it). It was done at least twice now by the sneaky Russians who stuff
the astro-tourist onboard one of their own rockets after having billed
their Master Card for $20 million.
my latest blogs indicated, the Russians are offering the granddaddy of
all spaceflights – an
orbital round trip to the moon and back for a paltry $100 million per
seat. At least one individual has indicated an interest.
you and me, that ticket price is just too steep. We need a breakthrough.
now Burt Rutan and his Spaceship
Company (the real name). Rutan, of course, built and flew Spaceship
One into space twice last year and won the X-Prize. He and the Spaceship
Company is now working overtime to build the Spaceship Two. Deposits on
tickets are already being taken for the $200,000 ride into low earth orbit.
Nearly 100 people have indicated a willingness to fly. And Rutan
has his sights on an orbital model as well.
sorry. $200,000 is still way up there for the average Joe. While
Rutan promises the seat price will fall, we need a breakthrough.
lifetime, I have witnessed scientific and engineering breakthroughs.
When I worked as a manager for a computer store in 1981, the first hard
disk drive for home use came on the market. It was a five megabyte
model about as large as a big tabletop scanner. It’s price?
$5,000! One grand per meg. At that price, a 1 terabyte drive
in 1981 that today sells for $500 would be as large as a 4 bedroom home
and would cost the 1981 consumer $5 billion. Now that’s what I call
a breakthrough! We need something like that for space travel.
any hope? Yes there is. As long as Rutan and his friends are
actively working with some seed cash to make it happen - as is being
supplied by a number of wealthy backers, it can and will happen soon!
will it all lead? Well – I’m not a prophet – but I believe that it
will lead to the vision best described
by Princeton Astrophysicist Gerard K. O’Neill – to huge orbiting space
outposts in orbit around the earth, about the moon and about the sun.
These outposts make more sense that diving down into the gravity wells
of the moon and Mars.
said that – it is also true that building your own orbiting platform is
also expensive – so that the earliest colonies will probably start on the
planets and moons – but the later versions will probably not restrict themselves
to being trapped in gravity wells. Perhaps colonists will eagerly
claim asteroids as a poor man’s space platform whose raw materials are
already in place.
the near vision is in whether you and I will be able to fly into space
in the near future. And I believe that the answer is yes. It
seems evident that Spaceship One in all of its simplicity was the breakthrough
that the common man was looking for. Spaceship Two – which should
begin flying in 2008 –will be an eye-opener for us all!
Burt. What took you so long?