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Richard Branson Plans Orbital Spaceships For Virgin Galactic

timothy posted about a year ago | from the ignore-the-weight dept.

Transportation 177

Velcroman1 writes "Following the historic first rocket-powered flight of its SpaceShipTwo vehicle, Virgin Galactic plans to build a fleet of spaceships and begin ferrying hundreds of tourists into space in 2014. And then? A whole new kind of spacecraft, Sir Richard Branson said. 'We'll be building orbital spaceships after that,' Branson told Fox News Tuesday, 'so that people who want to go for a week or two can.' Assuming the cost is on the same scale, would you pay a few hundred grand for a few weeks in orbit?"

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177 comments

$200K ... Uh Oh. (4, Interesting)

NReitzel (77941) | about a year ago | (#43592025)

If I could get to orbit for $1,000,000, forget it. The problem is that $200K is just barely in reach, and I'd start thinking about selling my house.

So, short answer. Yes.

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (5, Funny)

AuralityKev (1356747) | about a year ago | (#43592043)

I wonder if you work for Virgin if they give you discounts? You know, like the airlines do with normal flights? That would be a hell of an incentive and may just gather the greatest nerdforce in history.

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43592227)

They probably take Air Miles.

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592281)

Try standby

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (4, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43592545)

Forget it. Even $200k for a few weeks in space is a pipe dream right now. Even with your mass and your portion the mass of the spacecraft keeping you alive squashed down to say, a ton. that one ton has to be lobbed into low Earth orbit just to get you there. That would mean $200 per kg in launch costs. And if that $200k meant also the food and the service and the launch personnel and other costs, start looking for significantly lower launch cost figures. Who's going to do that for you? SpaceX is aiming for $2k per kg with their heaviest LV which is still only on paper. If they succeed, it will be the cheapest LV in history, by a wide margin, probably for quite some time. Who's going to squash another order of magnitude? And when? Also, one ton per person makes for a really cramped vessel (think Mercury capsule).

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592679)

Forget that...just get trained as a space flight attendant or pilot. Go up regularly and get paid to do it. I'm in.

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43593169)

Yes but you must still turn off all of your portable electronic devices.

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (2)

SilentStaid (1474575) | about a year ago | (#43593251)

Thank god, because if that pig sitting next to me keeps managing his auto insurance it's going to send this rocket straight into the sun.

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#43592049)

Well, if it's $200k equiv. in, say, 2020, and it's an early private sector tech... hopefully by 2030 or 2040 it'll be a lot cheaper.

'course, some of us will be getting on in years then...

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (3, Insightful)

NReitzel (77941) | about a year ago | (#43592247)

Some of us are already on in years.

I expected to be here, at this point, by the end of the 70's. Then Vietnam happened, Nixon happened, and the future was, and still is, being mortgaged.

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592389)

You've been fooled if you honestly think that the government is cutting back NASA's budget because of other things going on. NASA's budget could be increased 20 fold with no backlash considering there isn't rioting in the streets today.

Someone posted an infograph on Facebook recently showing that pubic American healthcare could be paid in full by the tax revenue of legalized recreational marijuana (which I highly doubt but anyway...). As if the government is just going to take that money and pass it all back to the people in the form of services that benefit us.

Before anyone goes hollering that their tax dollar buys civilization... your tax dollar doesn't pay enough in for this current form of civilization and the government pays out more than a good forward thinking civilization needs from Big Brother in the first place.

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (1)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | about a year ago | (#43592249)

Money is one question. I'm curious what will be the caveats, such as "Virgin Galactic is not reasonable for any passengers with heart conditions, etc. And you must be this high."

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43593335)

Virgin Galactic is not reasonable for any passengers

I feel the same way about most airlines. ;-)

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (1)

Motard (1553251) | about a year ago | (#43592305)

If the cost is 'on the same scale', it's going to be one heck of a lot more than $200K. Beginning next year, they should be able to get you into space for $200K - for about five minutes. What will it cost for two weeks?

Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (1)

Megane (129182) | about a year ago | (#43592563)

The two weeks isn't the problem, that's just a matter of cheap consumables and toilet capacity.

Getting on orbit is the tough part, and getting home is the second tough part, because you have to reach orbital speeds to stay up there, then you have to slow down to go home, which either needs good heat shields, or takes a lot of retro rocket energy (which I'm not aware of anyone having tried because heat shields are more efficient than bringing up more fuel).

The SS2 is a sub-orbital, which means it can (almost) reach orbital altitude, but doesn't have enough momentum to stay there for more than a few minutes. It's not moving at orbital speeds, so it doesn't need heat shields to re-enter the atmosphere.

They may be better off working with SpaceX and Bigelow, or even Sierra Nevada, but I wouldn't mind seeing yet another orbital crew capable vehicle added to the diversity of technology that is already happening.

arent three years behind schedule? (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#43592029)

I thought the first customer launch would be in 2011. Between the recession and perfection where human life is involved they took longer.

I know someone who took the oreintation course in 2010. They put you in a similator so you you know how violent certain parts of the ride will be.

LOL, wrong question ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43592035)

Assuming the cost is on the same scale, would you pay a few hundred grand for a few weeks in orbit?

Would I if I had it to spend? Absolutely. Can I or most of us afford to spend the cost of a house on this? Sadly, no.

I suspect most of us will never get to do this, which sucks. Because I would dearly love to do this before I die.

Re:LOL, wrong question ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592359)

Me too. I'd also like to go on one of those new fangled airplanes but they will also remain in the domain of th rich.

Re:LOL, wrong question ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592555)

I'd have to have at least a hundred million before I'd spend this kind of money on a short trip to a hostile environment that is likely to make me feel sick just to say "I did it."

Could I spend the money now? Yes, although it would impact my net worth to the point that my lifestyle here on Earth would have to change. For that kind of cash, I could get a suborbital "weightless" flight and then spend the next few years on a luxury vacation.

I'd much rather invest the money (perhaps in the industry) and let other people be the spendthrift guinea pigs.

Re:LOL, wrong question ... (2)

langedb (518453) | about a year ago | (#43592571)

Assuming the cost is on the same scale, would you pay a few hundred grand for a few weeks in orbit?

Would I if I had it to spend? Absolutely. Can I or most of us afford to spend the cost of a house on this? Sadly, no.

I suspect most of us will never get to do this, which sucks. Because I would dearly love to do this before I die.

Folks said the same thing about:

  • Automobiles
  • Air travel
  • Computers
  • Cellular Phones
  • ... and much more
    • Give it 30-40 years or so and you'll be getting daily deal notifications about $1000 one-way tickets to Disney-Space on Southwest.

Re:LOL, wrong question ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592759)

Give it 30-40 years or so and you'll be getting daily deal notifications about $1000 one-way tickets to Disney-Space

That's as true today as it was 30-40 years ago.

Re:LOL, wrong question ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592801)

"Give it 30-40 years or so and you'll be getting daily deal notifications about $1000 one-way tickets to Disney-Space" and you could have made that prediction 40 years ago.

Re:LOL, wrong question ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592879)

Thing is, other folks built automobiles, planes, computers and phones, usually within months or years.

How long have the space loons been howling at a vacuum?

Re:LOL, wrong question ... (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about a year ago | (#43593119)

Cost of orbital flight for one person in 1962: $1.6B in 2010 dollars
Cost of orbital flight for one person in 2014: $0.0002B in 2014 dollars

There's a bit of downward pressure on the cost, so we might see it in our lifetime yet, depending on where you are on the actuarial tables.

what you can be sure on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592065)

is if its Branson involved, he wont be doing anything but collecting other peoples money for doing very little work personally.

Re:what you can be sure on (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#43592289)

he wont be doing anything but collecting other peoples money for doing very little work personally.

And how is this is different from how things have always been? The rich put in the money, then expect a return on that investment. Not an awesome system, but it more or less, is the way things work and have gotten us this far.

Definition... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592083)

From the article "...Firing its rocket for 16 seconds and racing to a speed of Mach 1.2, fast enough to beat the speed of sound."

You don't say... Mach 1.2 is faster than sound? Interesting, you must be smart...

This just in... (2)

AuralityKev (1356747) | about a year ago | (#43592093)

During a press conference surrounding the annoucement, Branson confirmed a name for the proposed space station has not been put forward, though he clarified "Nobody will mistake it for a mood, and please, call me Darth."

first pinballs, now orbiters? (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43592115)

I guess the 1960s really are back.

Re:first pinballs, now orbiters? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year ago | (#43592385)

Better than the last few years where it was recession and war, which was the return of the 1930s.

Sadly, we'll probably have to go though the 60's again in space tech to get back to where we need to be to progress. That's what happens when people stop doing things and decide to forget all about them.

Re:first pinballs, now orbiters? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year ago | (#43593099)

Not so much a decision, just a consequence of the nature of institutional memory when you fail to maintain the institutions.

Well ... duh ... yes! (1)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | about a year ago | (#43592129)

If I had the money to spend, sure thing. Any geek would.

Problem is ... I don't have the money to spend. Not even if I sell my house. And I suspect most geeks don't either. The question is, to be a bit blunt, rather stupid.

I presume Virgin will find plenty of people willing to spend 200K on a week-long orbital vacation (probably not too many geeks) but less people with the actual cash in hand.

[willing to spend] != [able to spend]

- Jesper

Re:Well ... duh ... yes! (2)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year ago | (#43592467)

Yeah, his clientele is still millionaires, just more of them will be able to afford it.

That said, like airplanes, eventually they should get to a point where it is a experience where you can afford it if you are middle class, and it is still fairly luxurious, if not quite opulent. Once that happens, sign up as soon as possible for the experience, as it may well become the Golden Age of Sub-orbital/Orbital flights.

Just don't wait until it is too cheap. Thirty years after that, you'll be crammed into tiny seats with screaming babies in the cabin and have to pay a fee for using the restroom on the way to see your in-laws on Moonbase Alpha.

Re:Well ... duh ... yes! (1)

afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#43592765)

In case you didn't notice geeks make up a very high percentage of the high net worth individuals out there. Between tech, telecom, and the quants in the financial sector geeks are probably overrepresented in the top 1%.

Re:Well ... duh ... yes! (1)

mmcxii (1707574) | about a year ago | (#43592817)

When this kicks off it'll be of such limited seating that even at a couple million a trip there will be people willing to pay out even if for no other reason than bragging rights. I wonder how many people tried to get on with the Russians at 20 million a pop before the plug was pulled.

Virgin isn't going to need to worry about the customers' cash flow until they get something in orbit that makes cruise ships look small. It'll be decades.

Fix the Earth First (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592135)

Why does he spend all that money that could lead to scientific discoveries, we should instead be spending the money to send to third world countries where the warlords there can use it to lord over the peons there even more and we inthe west can feel less guilty and proud about how wea re doing something to make the world a better place...

Re:Fix the Earth First (2)

Motard (1553251) | about a year ago | (#43592343)

Are you suggesting that Virgin Galactic invade Somalia?

Re:Fix the Earth First (1)

SilentStaid (1474575) | about a year ago | (#43593345)

Are you suggesting that Virgin Galactic invade Somalia?

I don't know how you can make a Galactic Empire invading a hive of scum and villainy without getting a +5 Awesome. For shame Slashdot, for shame.

This later vs ISS now? (1)

zopapito (1006663) | about a year ago | (#43592141)

I realize that the ISS is for research but, don't they already accept tourists in there. What I'm saying is that if I were a multimillionaire I would rather go this route right now instead of waiting for an unproven system by who knows when.

Re:This later vs ISS now? (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43592253)

There's a limited supply of seats to ISS and they cost tens of millions of dollars. A weekly flight to a Bigelow-style habitat for a few million would certainly seem like a better deal for most millionaires; for one thing you could take your mistress^H^H^H^Hwife along for the ride.

Re:This later vs ISS now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592381)

learn to ^W bro

Re:This later vs ISS now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592985)

well, the ISS costs significantly more than what this is supposed to cost. I can afford this if I give up on a lot of things and work a few extra years, and I'd do that. I can't afford the ISS.....

So many people say they want to go... (2)

Philosa (1644339) | about a year ago | (#43592159)

So many people say they want to go, but I find it amusing that of the handful of space tourists since 2001, very few have written inspiring books or stories about it. A quick check of Wikipedia seems to indicate only Guy Laliberté (flew in 2009) as authoring something about his experiences.

If going to space is so great, why haven't the few who've gone written more about it?

Re:So many people say they want to go... (2)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#43592255)

Most likely because not everyone is an author or has any interest in being one. I Have done a few amazing things in my life over the years, not to the level of going to space, but even if I did I wouldnt write a book about it either.

Re:So many people say they want to go... (1)

CountZer0 (60549) | about a year ago | (#43592271)

Because there isn't a vary large overlap between 'space tourist' and 'author'?

Re:So many people say they want to go... (1)

Philosa (1644339) | about a year ago | (#43592417)

Yet, out of the Apollo days, so many of the astronauts wrote very compelling books about their experiences. Lovell, Aldrin, Cernan, and others.

I suspect space tourism is not as great as its cracked up to be, otherwise we'd be hearing from those who went how awesome it was.

Re:So many people say they want to go... (2)

Brucelet (1857158) | about a year ago | (#43592651)

That's an interesting point. It's worth noting, though, that most of those astronauts wrote memoirs decades after their flights. Maybe in another ten or twenty years we'll see more writings from current astronauts and space tourists.

Re:So many people say they want to go... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year ago | (#43593179)

This has far less to do with the enjoyment of the person who takes the journey than in the perceived interest of readers. It's easy to see why people would buy a book written by a space pioneer. It's hard to see why people would buy a book written by a space tourist. "Wee! I had a great time!", even if true, becomes a tiresome read at book-length.

Re:So many people say they want to go... (1)

kimvette (919543) | about a year ago | (#43592387)

Out of the millions who visit Israel, Rome, Sicily, Cairo, what percentage of those tourists write books about it? The percentage is lower than that of space tourists, so obviously those places cannot be that great. ;)

If I had the financial means I'd go - I'd shoot a lot and post photos of both the cosmos and the Earth online, but I would be very unlikely to write a book about it. Personally, I'd rather see what the heavens really look like from space in properly-exposed photographs (by properly-exposed, I mean exposing to approximate what the unaided eye sees) than read about someone feeling motion sick, or even excited, or about how to use the space crapper. After all, the incredible view is the sole reason I'd want to go up there; not bragging rights or anything else, just the awesome unobstructed view of the sky without light pollution.

Re:So many people say they want to go... (1)

Philosa (1644339) | about a year ago | (#43592569)

You've sort of made my point. You would be telling other people how awesome it is, just not in book form. You'd be bragging about it.

Yet, of the people who have done space tourism before you, it is been eerily quiet about how awesome it was. Maybe it will be different for you,...

Lisa Nowak excluded... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year ago | (#43592949)

Thank god there's not the equivalent of Jerusalem syndrome for space travelers!
Strike that, that would be funny as hell!

Re:So many people say they want to go... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592669)

If going to space is so great, why haven't the few who've gone written more about it?

Neil Armstrong had a habit of telling long, rambling, boring jokes about the moon and finishing with, "I guess you had to be there"

Perhaps an adventure like this doesn't translate into words.

Re:So many people say they want to go... (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about a year ago | (#43592755)

Because being a space tourist means only that you have enough money to pay someone 7 figures to ferry you somewhere. There is no skill involved outside of remembering your bank account number. And nobody wants to read about that.

Now, if they would actually DO something in space? Well, that would be something to write about. Otherwise, it would be as fascinating a read as someone's exploits at the Sandals in Jamaica: "Laid on the beach. Had a drink. Went to eat and drink more. Slept. Got sunburned. Repeated this for 7 days."

Merely going somewhere cools is not the same thing as doing something cool.

A week in orbit while... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592329)

The poor scramble for food, food stamps ( SNAP program ) is being cut
The 20% of American children are in poverty
Pensions and Social Security are being cut leaving people with a life of work out in the cold

Our priorities are wrong.

Re:A week in orbit while... (1, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | about a year ago | (#43592465)

The poor scramble for food, food stamps ( SNAP program ) is being cut
The 20% of American children are in poverty
Pensions and Social Security are being cut leaving people with a life of work out in the cold

Our priorities are wrong.

No, our priorities are just right. Unless you want to kill off 90% of the worlds population, people will be *forever* in poverty. There's not enough resources on the Earth -- by a substantial factor -- to support seven billion people without 3/4 of them living in poverty conditions.

If you let the plight of the unfortunate (and irresponsible -- those people living in poverty are continuing to procreate, after all) stop progress, humanity will go extinct on this planet, along with every other form of life. Five billion years of evolution, of living and dying, would be wiped out as the sun ages... for nothing.

If humans get off the planet, there could be trillions of lives that get to exist because of it.

If a week in orbit drives advancement in technology that gets live off this planet for good, 'm morally comfortable with a few billion living in poverty for the opportunity for many trillions to live in the future. We don't get a second chance at this -- we've built up this opportunity on a technological house of cards that can't be rebuilt if it falls. There's no "easy" energy left. If people don't get off the planet and something happens that knocks us back from our "modern" level of technology, there won't be another industrial revolution to get us back. If we go extinct and some other species evolves intelligence 200 million years from now, they *won't* have the chance to do what we do -- because we won't have left the energy resources that drove advancement for the last 5000 years. Climate conditions have changed, you won't get new oil or new coal being laid down.

The morally correct thing to do would be to put vastly MORE resources into getting life multiplanet, as a stepping stone to getting it beyond there.

Re:A week in orbit while... (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about a year ago | (#43592603)

a few billion living in poverty

Not to mention that the few billion living in today's poverty live WAY better than those in poverty even a couple of centuries ago.

Re:A week in orbit while... (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about a year ago | (#43592805)

A lot of people living in today's poverty live better than those NOT in poverty a few centuries ago.

Re:A week in orbit while... (1)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#43592917)

[Citation needed]

I mean, maybe. But then a few centuries ago people were free to make a living off the land. Now they have to beg for jobs and no amount of work is going to help them without that when they have nothing to work with and there's no unclaimed land to farm.

It may well be that the only truly free people were those who came into lands that belonged to nobody and it also may well be that those in fitting climates weren't really bad off. The golden times of mankind are over. Maybe there are new golden times far in the future, but this would require some really hard work to get us off this rock. And with "us" I don't mean just a handful of stinking rich tourists in LEO.

Unless you want to kill off 90% of the worlds (1, Funny)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#43592639)

You wrote:
"Unless you want to kill off 90% of the worlds population..."

I would like to subscribe to your newsletter...

Any good ideas in this direction? It would solve so many problems, unemployment, high real-estate prices, traffic, hunger, poverty, ease of netfame/tv appearances, distribution of resources, global warming, and hopefully, get rid of all the stupid people.

Re:Unless you want to kill off 90% of the worlds (1)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#43592965)

You wrote:
"Unless you want to kill off 90% of the worlds population..."

I would like to subscribe to your newsletter...

Any good ideas in this direction? It would solve so many problems, unemployment, high real-estate prices, traffic, hunger, poverty, ease of netfame/tv appearances, distribution of resources, global warming, and hopefully, get rid of all the stupid people.

A good economic collapse, maybe with some ecologic collapse giving a helping hand will easily do the trick. People will just starve and/or kill each other.

Unfortunately it won't necessarily be the not stupid ones who survive.

Re:A week in orbit while... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#43592767)

Earth has more than enough resources for 20 billion people if we were not squandering them on welfare for the non-working leaches who live off the hard work of others. Of course I am talking about the owning class of billionaire plutocrats.

Re:A week in orbit while... (2)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about a year ago | (#43592595)

There will always be poor, there will always be hungry, there will always be poverty. There will always be greed.
Why wait for those problems to be solved if there's no end to them and say something as exciting as human space travel for the masses is unimportant? If it helps bring down the costs and increases the amount of interest, it could one day be a solution to the poor since there are unlimited resources out there. The survival of every species on earth could depend on that innovation, research and excitement one day.
Compared to what's at stake I would encourage you to keep an open mind.

Re:A week in orbit while... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#43592903)

We can solve world hunger within 30 years, by handing our contraceptives. Those are not expensive and it doesn't require any mass culling.

Re:A week in orbit while... (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#43593281)

If that where only so, unfortunately the catholic church tells many of those people that they will burn in hell for all eternity if they so much as use a rubber or take a pill. It is quiet easy in the US at least to come buy free condoms, my college campus makes a habit of giving them away by the handfull. Many clinics give them away and who is so hard up that they cant pay 75 cents for one out of a vending machine at the nearest truck stop bathroom. The only people poor enough not to be able to get them also would refuse to use them because some wrinkled old monk in Rome says so.

Orbital Spaceships (1)

7bit (1031746) | about a year ago | (#43592547)

"Orbital Spaceships".

Branson didn't elaborate on exactly what he meant by these. Sort of sounds like a reusable Space Shuttle type of craft though which can go into orbit and stay there for as long as its supplies last then return to Earth.

I wonder how long it will be though before he starts sending special "Orbital Spaceships" on a one-way trip into orbit where they will stay and act as "Space Stations" that normal "Orbital Spaceships" can later dock with?

In fact; perhaps he could design them in such a way so that multiple special orbital spaceships can be interconnected one at a time to form a larger space station? That way each piece of the space station can carry itself up into orbit in one go without requiring another ship to carry the equivalent parts up in several trips.

But regardless; even using the piecemeal method it seems like Branson could start ferrying Space Station parts into orbit as soon as those new "Orbital Spaceships" are launching. Simply send up some of those sections and parts up with each and every tourist trip, with as many of those tourist trips as he is planning to have it shouldn't take very long to accumulate as much material up in orbit to build whatever he wants (perhaps an Orbital Virgin Galactic Hotel?).

Heck; he wouldn't even need to bother with spacewalks and spacesuits, just drop a couple of tele-robotics builders in orbit with the material stash and his guys could start building from the comfort of their office chairs down at Headquarters on Earth, possibly wearing Oculus Rift VR headsets. The future is being built!

Carbon/energy footprint? (1)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | about a year ago | (#43592559)

In a world of climate change and rising temperatures I can't help but wonder: What is the carbon/energy footprint of a single ticket? To speak nothing of the total impact if this "business"? It look to me like Virgin Galactic and its customers are likely to be the absolute worst polluters on the planet ...

Would they be so eager to go into space for fun if they had to pay the actual environmental cost as well? Allowing it for science is one thing ... doing it solely for entertainment is another!

- Jesper

Re:Carbon/energy footprint? (1)

WoOS (28173) | about a year ago | (#43592941)

Yes, indeed. From a very interesting article at NASA [nasa-usa.de]:

Travelling from the surface of Earth to Earth orbit is one of the most energy intensive steps of going anywhere else. This first step, about 400 kilometers away from Earth, requires half of the total energy needed to go to the surface of Mars

It also mentions the mass to fuel ratio into earth orbit for the Saturn V was 4% whereas for the Space Shuttle (due to its heavy reusable reentry vehicle) it was only 1%.

Sorry to say it, but humankind cannot afford tourism into space until we have a space elevator.

Re:Carbon/energy footprint? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year ago | (#43593309)

Uh, your quote does nothing to support your contention. If half the energy to get to the kitchen is spent getting up out of my chair, this does not mean standing up is a huge energy expense in absolute terms, just a large relative percentage. It boggles my mind that you thought this quote about how large of a percentage of the total energy cost of going to Mars anywhere in space is spent getting to orbit supported the idea that it's expensive. It is expensive, but your quote isn't relevant to the point. As Heinlein noted, get to orbit and you're halfway to anywhere.

We spent, what, 90 million making the movie Waterworld? We can afford to do that, but we can't afford to make a tourist flight for 200K? You're reasoning is positively bizarre... this is not only something humankind can afford, it's something individual humans can afford, even ones who aren't millionaires.

Re:Carbon/energy footprint? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43593069)

Moron. Just think about it for a minute, take a long term view...

Without the commercialization of space we are all doomed to live and die on earth, with the commercialization of space the stars are within our long term reach.

I as a child I read Arthur C Clarke's 'the next 50 years in space' and if I remember correctly, by now we should have colonies on both the Moon and Mars. Then I remember reading about project Orion, which would give us the ability to lift entire orbitals into space. But of course budget cuts and 'it's not green' saw an end to my childhood dreams.

Then I look at 'greenies' like you, and I despair. You want to keep the kindergarten neat and tidy, and can't see any further than that.

Re:Carbon/energy footprint? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year ago | (#43593231)

In a world of climate change and rising temperatures I can't help but wonder: What is the carbon/energy footprint of a single ticket? To speak nothing of the total impact if this "business"?

It's a miniscule fraction of the total impact of the entertainment business. You should be worrying about shutting down Hollywood long before you start looking at such small-scale business as this.

Green? (1)

Tomji (142759) | about a year ago | (#43592561)

Doesn't he claim to be green? Rocket travel is just about the most environment unfriendly thing you can do.

Re:Green? (1)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#43592987)

Not any more than other ways to burn fossil fuels. And you can use hydrogen (or synthesized hydrocarbons) if you want. There's no reason rockets can't be carbon neutral.

Re:Green? (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#43593053)

he is building a space going infrastructure that will pave the way for all sorts of industry for example space mining so we can quit polluting and ravaging the earth for all of our minerals you are think very small picture (postage stamp) he is thinking big picture (sistine chapel). while it is bad for the environment on a small scale it will pave the way for a much more green future, think of all of the pollution from the manufacturing all the needed parts of solar cells a few years ago. as things go we will get better more green tech but we need to start work on it now and its messy but it will get better as we go.

Bad assumption (1)

Brucelet (1857158) | about a year ago | (#43592601)

Assuming the cost is on the same scale, would you pay a few hundred grand for a few weeks in orbit?

If the cost were that low, and I had the money somehow, I'd love to spend it on a few weeks in orbit. However, recognizing how much harder it is to get into orbit than to just go straight up, I have strong doubts that costs won't be a factor of 10 or 100 higher. Also, since it's already taken more than twice as long as originally projected for this thing to be ready, I wouldn't expect anything orbital before 2020 or so.

I'm ready to go! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43592689)

Fortunately I'm able to afford it, and yes, I'm very ready to go. If the human body were actually able to handle an extremely long time in zero-G, or they used rotation or something to create some gravity, and solved a few other issues like radiation shielding, I'd go for years, even the rest of my life. We NEED to start doing this, we need to make LEO, the moon, and further out part of our world. A common part, where it's not only the few of us that can afford it, but virtually ANY person that desires to live and work in space can find a home there. Our future is in the stars, it's always been so. Given the rate at which we're destroying this stone we call home, we'd bloody well better learn to call space home.
      Yes, absolutely, I want to go, but not just for a brief hop to peek at the blackness of the sky and the curvature of the earth. I've already seen that, in a MiG. What I want is to go up for at least a week or two, and then longer, a lot longer, when we've gotten it figured out. I've no doubt that we can do it.

Nope, nada, nil (1)

NumenMaster (618275) | about a year ago | (#43592911)

The idea of spending any more than an hour or two in microgravity is quite unappealing. It's simply not a friendly environment for gravity bound creatures. The simple thought of living without running water.. The thought of being confined to a ship with a bunch of smelly people.. The thought of potentially getting ill while up there (bad enough with gravity but without?).. The thought of being bombarded by radiation.. Much information about the living conditions on the ISS is published freely online, and over the years I've read these stories. Honestly, it has no appeal to me. I once spent two days hiking Mt Shasta. I got to the summit to be blown away by the view. Thirty minutes later, I was ready to descent because there was a big fat tbone and cigar waiting for me in my camp. Chances are, I would get bored of the view after a few hours anyway.

Re:Nope, nada, nil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43593031)

So turn the space habitats into Ringworld, microgravity problem solved.

Re:Nope, nada, nil (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year ago | (#43593363)

Yeah... true... but there are lots of people who do uncomfortable and even positively painful things just so that they will have done them. Sometimes the discomfort is the whole point. Spiritual experience or something... a lot of people would view a week in space as such.

A Spaceship ride? Nope.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43593041)

Chuck Testa!

Humor aside, once upon a time I would have given anything to make orbit. That was back when I had nothing. Now, I think that if I had $200,000 I'm pretty sure that would buy every vacation I'd like to take from now until the day I die. So, a period in orbit measured in minutes/days, or seeing the world from the air/ground for a period measured in days/weeks... No choice.

Re:A Spaceship ride? Nope.. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43593095)

Don't know if it's still the plan, but a few years ago Virgin were predicting the cost of sub-orbital flights would drop to $50,000 within five years of operation. While that's still expensive, it's much closer to a typical 'extreme' vacation like a few days in Antarctica.

I wonder who will build it? (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43593221)

I have to really wonder who will build this vision. While Scaled Composites is an innovative company, it's leader isn't exactly a spring chicken. Rutan is almost 70 [wikipedia.org] and while I know he has bright people working with him, without Burt this thing will go nowhere.

It's also been almost 9 years since they won the X-Prize so IMO, if they're not flying the public by 2014 (end of) this will be a venture that Branson and Rutan won't be seeing anytime soon.

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