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2014 Will Be a Big Year For Commercial Space Travel

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the fly-me-to-the-moon dept.

Space 61

An anonymous reader writes "Getting into space is a difficult prospect. The commercial space industry has been making steady progress over the past decade, and they're finally getting to the point where they can be relied upon to transport people and important cargoes. This article makes the case that 2014 will be a turning point for commercial space travel, the year that a nascent industry comes into its own. 'We should — finally — start to see the first flights into space by Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, and perhaps the first commercial flights of that vehicle as well, depending on how well their test program proceeds. In addition, we should also see the first test flights, although not necessarily into space, of XCOR's Lynx vehicle in 2014, and possibly even commercial flights by the end of the year if all goes well,' said Jeff Foust, editor of The Space Review. 'If these companies achieve those long-awaited, and sometimes long-delayed, major milestones, it will go far to erase any lingering doubts that suborbital space tourism is a real market, while also enabling opportunities for using those vehicles in other applications, like suborbital research and technology demonstration.'"

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TFA Headline is (1, Informative)

fisted (2295862) | about 10 months ago | (#45928225)

Will Commercial Space Travel Blast Off in 2014?
 
Hence, no.

I just want to go for a ride on the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928273)

...vomit comet. Or is that the baloney pony?

2014: The year we mourn Slashdot. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928627)

I think that 2014 could very well be the year that we must all mourn Slashdot, especially if they go ahead and replace the current site with the godawful beta site.

We've seen this kind of thing happen before. Just look at Digg v4 for a stunning example of how a web site upgrade can utterly destroy a community. The scariest part is that the Digg v4 site, at its worst, is still comparatively better than the Slashdot beta site.

The correct thing to do, obviously, is to completely discard the Slashdot beta site. It's a failed experiment. Being a failure, there's no need to continue with it. Close down the beta site, throw away the code, and just leave the current site as it is.

I do fear that if the Slashdot beta goes live at some point, then it will drive away the few remaining users. It is completely unusable, and the general consensus is that it's absolutely terrible. Nobody wants it now, and it's very doubtful that anyone will want it later. It really needs to be discarded, immediately.

Nonsense! (0, Redundant)

Nova Express (100383) | about 10 months ago | (#45928241)

We all know that 2014 will be The Year of Linux on the Desktop!

Re:Nonsense! (1)

billcarson (2438218) | about 10 months ago | (#45928459)

The one does not exclude the other.

Re:Nonsense! (4, Funny)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 10 months ago | (#45929811)

So the Year of Linux on the Desktop... in spaaaace?

Don't forget to define your terms first (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928267)

Commercial "space travel" sounds so exciting! Star Trek! Warp Drives! Aliens!

Reality: A cramped tin can, 10 minute ride to the upper atmosphere, sub-orbital joyride. No aliens, no warp drives, no class-M planets. You're still in the atmosphere, you're still using rockets with the same elements as on the periodic table, no fictional elements or forces. You're not even getting out of the tin can and you're landing right back where you came from.

So sorry. We don't even have the Concorde anymore and I'm supposed to cheer for the thrill rides of people who've somehow managed to game the system to make money while my real wages have been going down for 10 years?

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (0)

JockTroll (996521) | about 10 months ago | (#45928509)

So sorry for you, it must suck to be a wage slave. Me, I'm happy with the fact that I'm making more money than before, though I will save it for an orbital trip since the only use I can ever see for suborbital is fast transatlantic travel. Oh, I forgot you won't ever be able to even leave your shanty town. Such bitterness you must feel. Oh, well, some must lose for others to win. But then again, you most certainly have the financial standing you deserve.

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (0)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45928545)

Losers always claim the rest of us must have 'gamed the system' rather than just worked hard and saved some money along the way.

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (0)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 10 months ago | (#45928563)

And winners always claim that their win is solely their own achievement, and in no way related to luck.

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45928647)

And winners always claim that their win is solely their own achievement, and in no way related to luck.

Most successful people I've met admit that luck played a part in their success. Most failures expect to get rich by playing the lottery.

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928979)

And winners always claim that their win is solely their own achievement, and in no way related to luck.

Most successful people I've met admit that luck played a part in their success.

You didn't — in fact you explicitly excluded it ("[you and your ilk] just worked hard and saved some money along the way") — no other influencing factors (e.g., parent's wealth, location of birth, quality of education, economic opportunities, quality/availability of social welfare services, nepotism). If "working hard" were correlated with wealth, coal miners and the like would live like kings.

Is it more fun to gloat about having "worked hard" and saving in front of the poorer, hardworking, unlucky people living paycheck-to-paycheck? I suppose there's not much point if you can't blow the value of a poor kid's college tuition on a few minutes shits & giggles.

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (1)

YoureGoingToHell (3452735) | about 10 months ago | (#45942335)

You didn't â" in fact you explicitly excluded it ("[you and your ilk] just worked hard and saved some money along the way") â" no other influencing factors (e.g., parent's wealth, location of birth, quality of education, economic opportunities, quality/availability of social welfare services, nepotism).

All of which are irrelevant. If someone wants to be successful in America, they can be--even in today's totally fucked up America, controlled by idiots, filled with red tape and rules and regulations galore, and inhabited by losers such as yourself with your can't-do quitter attitude.

If "working hard" were correlated with wealth, coal miners and the like would live like kings.

Nobody ever said "working hard" will make your wealthy. Nobody with a fucking brain expects to get rich mining for coal.

Is it more fun to gloat about having "worked hard" and saving in front of the poorer, hardworking, unlucky people living paycheck-to-paycheck?

"Unlucky." Luck has nothing to do with it, dumb ass. It's a person's attitude and ambition that determines their success. Stop making excuses for people, loser.

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928721)

The biggest winners always seem to be leaches. People who profit by removing value from an economy. The people who add value end up in the middle or bottom. Cheaters win often enough that they make up most of the 1%.

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (0)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45928747)

Well, the easiest way to get rich is to convince your buddies in government to give you a lot of taxpayers' money. Which is why it's odd that the people who complain the most about 'the 1%' also demand more government, which will funnel more money to their buddies.

If the 'anti-1%' left didn't exist, the leeches would have to invent them.

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45949799)

To get rich, no, you won't have enough money for benefits that specific until you're already rich. The 1% have enough money to start paying for advantage, the 0.5% might have enough to get some and the 0.1% have enough to get richer from it. Many here could strive to be in the 1% but perhaps 1 could make it into one of the influence buying levels.

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928931)

There we go, another misanthrope outed. You Space Nutters are all the same, you seem to think you deserve all this space crap because you're so much better than the rest of us!

So why don't you explain to us what is is you've done to deserve all this money? Surely sharing that secret isn't a big deal since other people are just "losers" anyways in your opinion, right?

What value have you contributed? What have you produced? Let me guess, you're a "job creator"!!! Ohh hallelujah!!! We found one!

How difficult life must be for you, creating all these jobs!

Anyhow, your disgusting and psychopathic worldview has been noted and added to my database of how Space Nutters really think. Sometimes I wish I could afford to send you all one way into your beloved space, I suspect the planet will be better off with fewer vile, cancerous lumps like you on it.

Here's to hoping the quality assurance on the parts made by wage slaves is less than perfect on your flight, Herr Job Kreator.

Space Macht Frei!

Space Uber Alles!

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45930893)

Wow. How bitter, how angry you are. What a terrible existence you must live. "I think I deserve"? I *do* deserve because I can pay for it, be it "space stuff" or a fancy car. Since I've had success and you didn't it goes without saying that I am better than you. Misanthrope? I have friends, I meet people, I do not eke out a miserable life and then coop up all alone in a room venting my rage on the internet because I'm too ashamed at revealing to others my misery. Again, sucks to be you but you called it upon yourself. Add me to your puny database, see if I care. A pity text cannot convey the sound of my chuckling. You can take the little satisfaction that I must reply anonymously because the untermensch loserboys who dwell on this site take it badly when the likes of me grab them by the scrawny necks and force them to face the realities of life. But in the end, you and them, you are still loserboys. You're nothing. In real life - the only one that matters - people like me are wealthy and successful, and you live in misery just as you deserve. It has nothing to do with luck and there are no secrets: you're simply inferior. Can't live it up? There's a way out, you know. It can be painless.

Re:Don't forget to define your terms first (1)

turgid (580780) | about 10 months ago | (#45933819)

So sorry. We don't even have the Concorde anymore and I'm supposed to cheer for the thrill rides of people who've somehow managed to game the system to make money while my real wages have been going down for 10 years?

These things give us an opportunity and means to redress the balance, and relieve them of their dubiously-gotten gains. Their decadence today will pay for (a small bit of) progress.

Now all we need to do is to think of other ways to part them from their loot so that more of us can benefit...

Missing the obvious (2)

guanxi (216397) | about 10 months ago | (#45928311)

If these companies achieve those long-awaited, and sometimes long-delayed, major milestones, it will go far to erase any lingering doubts that suborbital space tourism is a real market

How does a successful test of a prototype tell you anything about the demand for it? Silicon Valley landfills are filled with successful prototypes of products you've never heard of.

They need someplace to go and something to do up there. Until consumers can spend a weekend in orbit doing entertaining activities, it's hard to imagine many people willing spend six figures (?) on the trip.

(I'm all for commercial space flight, by the way, I just don't see much consumer demand for it.)

Re:Missing the obvious (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928389)

It's assumed by a small but very vocal community that space is its own reason. They're convinced of it, and there's absolutely nothing you can say or do to convince them otherwise. One day I had Mormons try to convert me and I laughed at them. The next month I saw the same Mormons still trying to make new converts. Same thing with the Space Crew. They're nuts, and there's nothing you can do about it. If half a century of stagnation hasn't calmed them, nothing will.

Re:Missing the obvious (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928623)

You can mod me down as much as you want. No one's going anywhere, least of all you. You can fellate Musk down to a nub, he's not going anywhere either.

Re:Missing the obvious (4, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45928485)

If I remember correctly, Virgin have several hundred deposits from customers already. Last I remember, they were talking about getting the cost down to $50,000 within a decade, at which point I'd seriously consider it myself.

There's clearly demand for these trips. The only question is whether there's enough demand to justify the investment in operating them.

Re:Missing the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928511)

Then why don't you go to Russia? For half that price you can fly in a MiG to the edge of space. Why not?

Re:Missing the obvious (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45928537)

Then why don't you go to Russia? For half that price you can fly in a MiG to the edge of space. Why not?

That's kind of like asking why anyone would want to fly supersonic in Concorde while drinking champagne, rather than in an F-16.

From what I can find on the web, the Mig only goes to 75,000 feet, which is not space, and you're strapped into an ejection seat, rather than free to move around in zero-g for several minutes.

Re:Missing the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928743)

You can fly on a Vomit Comet if floating in free-fall is that important to you. Even closer to home you can probably find one of those places where you wear a flying squirrel suit and they put you over a large fan.

I don't understand your F-16 comparison, you're certainly not flying the "space ship" yourself either, so what's the point? The Concorde is the beastlier aircraft in any case, it has 4 large engines and flies supersonic across the ocean. (It *used* to.) The F-16 certainly doesn't without re-fueling either.

The MiG lets you fly it. So I really, really don't get it. I suspect that if the little space hops were cheaper and anyone could do it, you'd find something else to obsess over.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sET5uQ4PfQI&feature=related [youtube.com]

Very loud intro.

Re:Missing the obvious (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45928773)

No, you don't get it. Like most people paying money for these flights, I'd be paying to go into what is generally accepted as space in relative comfort and safety, and to be able to spend several minutes floating free in zero-g.

None of your alternatives offer that.

So why do you think I'd want to pay thousands of dollars for them?

Re:Missing the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45929257)

I'd happily pay 3k+ if I could travel to the other side of the planet in less than 2-3 hours.

20+ hour flights - 50 if you have a layover / delay / whatever. Try doing that twice a month at a minimum, you'll come to hate it VERY quickly, and people doing this kind of frequent global travel won't typically blink at 3k if it can save them 1-2 days.

A shuttle a week, 30-40 seats - 90-120k (depending) earned each flight, increase frequency as consumer demand increases - seems to be approaching minimal viability in terms of staff/fuel/maintenance, although I admit I'm unsure on the costs of fuel. I bet most airports and governments by extension would happily attempt to get in on this at the risk of becoming obsolete, so infrastructure costs would likely be viable for heavy subsidies there...

CAPTCHA: commute - the irony :)

Re:Missing the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45929675)

I'd be happy to pay €500 to safely travel at the speed of light. What's your point? You are not going to be able to do what you want in a very long time.

Captcha: spoiling =)

Re:Missing the obvious (1)

turgid (580780) | about 10 months ago | (#45933767)

Suborbital flight. If you go high enough (c.f. SpaceShip Two) where the air is very thin indeed you can then accelerate to much higher speeds than are possible where the air is thicker (lower down). Then you can fall back down into the air, slow down and land like a plane when you get near your destination. Flying at 15 to 25 times the speed of sound becomes feasible.

I think the point being made is that if SapceShip Two is popular and makes a big profit, there might be money to invest is a sub-orbital liner version for intercontinental travel.

People have imagined such things since the 1930s (first for weapons delivery i.e. Slibervogel/Amerikabomber) but it's been prohibitively expensive so far.

Re:Missing the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45929293)

International 'economy' class flights between say, AU/SYD and US/JFK are about 2k (AUD) return.

Business class is closer to 15k.

The premium for saving 18-30+ hours on travel? I dare say could be pushed pretty high, I wouldn't be surprised if they could sell return flights for 30-40k a pop, and still get demand from the majority of people who do a lot of international travel.

Hell, where we work we've had to train multiple brand new staff just to cover the extra international travel required by our main sales AND installation guys who physically can't travel as much as he needs to (again, when a flight alone takes 20+ hours - you can can really only do one continent a week, and few visits in that week). We could likely save hundreds of thousands a year just on the staff, training, etc - and have the benefit of using our primary sales and installation technicians (not the new recruits), at the cost of barely doubling flight costs.

Best part of all, we'd only be paying them ~2k for a 3 hour suborbital flight, instead of up to 18k for a ~20 hour flight. It almost pays for itself.

Re:Missing the obvious (1)

Ironlenny (1181971) | about 10 months ago | (#45929569)

I don't know about tourism, but I definetly see a market for flying from New York to Tokyo in a couple of hours. If you need drop everything to meet with executives halfway around the world before a multi-million dollar deal tanks, a couple hundred grand is pretty cheap for a ticket.

Re:Missing the obvious (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 10 months ago | (#45930617)

Until consumers can spend a weekend in orbit doing entertaining activities, it's hard to imagine many people willing spend six figures (?) on the trip.

Zero-gravity brothels? I think that'll do it...

Not quite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928345)

finally getting to the point where they can be relied upon to transport people

Leeches and trustafarians, perhaps. It'll be a few years before they can transport people.

It's quite sad to see that man is exporting the Church of the Invisible Hand off this planet. Ah well, they do say the surest sign of intelligent extraterrestrial life is that it hasn't tried to contact us.

Yes, Now that Virgin Galactic Accepts Bitcoin! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928393)

Bitcoin is ready for takeoff, and it will take Virgin Galactic along with it!

It's suborbital (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928435)

Virgin Galagtic's Space Ship II and XCOR's Lynx are both suboribtal. They both only have about 1-2% of the energy on board that would be needed to make it to orbit. With this concept it's simply not possible to reach orbit. They have way more common with a MIG 25 parabolic flight then with a trip to the ISS.
Space X's Dragon capsule and Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser are the real deal in commercial space travel. And 2014 is decisive year for both of them.

Re:It's suborbital (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 10 months ago | (#45931875)

I wouldn't say "decisive", but 2014 should be a great year for both Dragon and Dream Chaser. I'm especially looking forward to the first test flights of the Mk-II Dragon with propulsive landing capability. We might even see it flown with a test crew by the end of the year. That would be sweet. Still, neither SpaceX nor SNC expect to get "over the hump" until 2015, though both have ambitious test regimes planned in the meantime.

SpaceX is also planning/hoping to launch their first Falcon Heavy this year, as well as testing their 1st-stage recovery scheme. If they can enter 2015 with the capability to recover and reuse both 1st stage and capsule of any launch, they will have an unassailable lead over the competition. Even if they can't recover the 2nd stage, they could still (conceivably) cut the effective cost per launch by 60 or 80 percent under their current price, which is already the lowest in the industry. (Even the Chinese say they can't beat SpaceX on cost.)

The next few years will be interesting indeed. In addition to SpaceX and SNC, we can also look forward to Planetary Resources getting their first few "birds" in the sky, the Google Lunar X-Prize, Bigelow Aerospace's first commercial hab/lab, and a few others as well. Space hasn't been this much fun since the 60s. ;-)

i bet you... (2)

Infestedkudzu (2557914) | about 10 months ago | (#45928441)

lots of articles from 2013 said the same thing

2014 will be... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 10 months ago | (#45928475)

...a year that the nasdaq and s&p500 have a decent correction bucking the almost continuous upward trend of the last few years, so i doubt there will be any major investment by anyone other than reserve banks, and that companies will continue to hoard cash

why do i predict a stock market correction? because humans are fickle and despite all the talk to stoke confidence in the so-called "recovery", humans are also not stupid... investors aren't in stocks because of confidence in the government or the fed or of consumers, but because they are taking advantage of a bubble in the stock market fuelled by cheap money from the fed. many also aren't investing for long term gains, but are playing computer games where they can take advantage of even small ticks up and down (technical trading). investors know that the bull run in stocks will not last forever, and it won't take much to turn the trend.

dunno if it's going to be a crash like the doomsayers predict, but no doubt the dollar will continue to lose value; to all the inflation denialists out there, check out the buying power table @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_dollar#Value [wikipedia.org]

Sure (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 10 months ago | (#45928499)

Wish we could see some jobs and the kind of economic activity produced by the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Programs.

A big year ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45928513)

for reaping pork from tax payers.

why wasn't this decades ago? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 10 months ago | (#45928711)

I find myself keep asking this question though answer is govt never thought private companies can do space (actually there was since 1950s, i.e. Lockheed, Boeing, McDonnell, Convair). It took Scaled Composites with Space Ship One and the CNXT (or CXNT) civilian space shot to demonstrate it can be done. Much of what is happening now is suborbital, much less difficult than orbital space flight, but there are customers besides rich people with a few 200K to blow. There are researchers with projects wanting suborbital flights that want to fly with their experiment. As time goes on, some of these companies will become history, some may survive, and there may new commercial spaceflight companies. An interesting time this is, reminds me of 1920s when all kinds of aircraft start-ups, most became history. What they had was govt support such as N.A.C.A., NASA should fill that role for these companies.

But I still ask, how come commercial space didn't happen in 1980s. Was technology too exotic? There was the Soviet threat but no ITAR.

Re:why wasn't this decades ago? (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45928793)

But I still ask, how come commercial space didn't happen in 1980s.

Because it needed a few billionaires willing to throw money at it for years with no returns to make it viable.

Re:why wasn't this decades ago? (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 10 months ago | (#45934399)

But I still ask, how come commercial space didn't happen in 1980s. Was technology too exotic? There was the Soviet threat but no ITAR.

You might want to dig a bit into the history of OTRAG [wikipedia.org] to see some of the difficulties that people faced in the early development of commercial spaceflight. The largest problem was mainly a "giggle factor" where regulators and people involved with even permitting this kind of activity happening. It took Ronald Reagan to pass the Commercial Space Launch Act [berkeley.edu] which in turn created the Office of Commercial Spaceflight [faa.gov] and encouraged government agencies to hire private companies to perform services that previously were done by government personnel.

In other words, it was largely a political issue rather than necessarily a technological one. When AT&T sent up their Testar [wikipedia.org] satellites, they needed specific legislation passed by Congress just to be permitted to launch vehicles into space. For a long time it is this whole permitting process that has had the government getting in the face of anybody trying to seriously consider going into space, and even now the regulations on building spacecraft still are a major hassle and consume full time employees just to meet those regulations even in a very small start-up company with just a dozen employees. Don't even think about starting a company with space-based assets or things going into space without one or more lawyers on staff.

The other aspect is that the internet also created a whole bunch of tech savvy geeks with money. Many of them wanted to do stuff in space, having grown up watching the Apollo Moon missions and hoping that things would be moving along faster in space than it actually has. There were dreams that by the year 2000 we would already have colonies on Mars, yet that didn't happen. Arguably the reason why that didn't happen is because it was too expensive to go there, and Congress seriously gutted the space program following the completion of the Apollo missions. These geeks decided that since government programs aren't getting the job done, they would be willing to try to do it themselves.

The X-Prize is something that has been a catalyst for getting the current generation of commercial spaceflight happening, where conferences before the X-Prize were mostly concentrating on how to expand NASA funding and building constituencies, and conferences after the X-Prize (particularly after Burt Rutan won that X-Prize) started talking about venture capital funding, business plans, and how to avoid getting bogged down in government regulations to get your project going. There really has been a radical change in thinking in recent years, and that explains part of what is happening in commercial spaceflight at the moment.

Re:why wasn't this decades ago? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 10 months ago | (#45944225)

Yes, I remember the OTRAG and various political problems. Your discussion is a good summary, I had a feeling this was the situation. Or at least one of the best summaries on commercial space I have recently read. Just goes to show technical issues are difficult to solve, very tedious and lengthly process. But political issues, politicians move in mysterious ways.

Don't forget... (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 10 months ago | (#45928911)

And also, the year of the Linux desktop!

Try not to confuse wishful thinking for accurate predictors of future trends.

Flights to Nowhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45929023)

There's something fundamentally wrong with an operation that provides incredibly expensive distraction (for the rich only) by polluting the atmosphere and failing to provide any socially redeeming value whatsoever.

Re:Flights to Nowhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45929165)

There's something fundamentally wrong with an operation that provides incredibly expensive distraction (for the rich only) by polluting the atmosphere and failing to provide any socially redeeming value whatsoever.

Like air travel in the 60s, affordable only by the "jet set", or like having a fully-functional Apple ][+ with 48K of RAM and two floppy disc drives in your home in 1980 for $2500, which, adjusted for inflation, was worth about $8000?

Re:Flights to Nowhere (2)

clovis (4684) | about 10 months ago | (#45930091)

There's something fundamentally wrong with an operation that provides incredibly expensive distraction (for the rich only) by polluting the atmosphere and failing to provide any socially redeeming value whatsoever.

Nope, there's nothing wrong with that. You describing almost every form of entertainment. (Television uses electricity which means burning more coal)

For another example, consider NASCAR:
There's something fundamentally wrong with an operation that provides incredibly expensive distraction by polluting the atmosphere and failing to provide any socially redeeming value whatsoever.

Oh, wait I left off the "(for the rich only)". Is it OK to pollute the atmosphere for sport if it's enjoyed by the Everyman?
Or are you saying that we can only pollute the atmosphere if it has a socially redeeming value, like book-burnings?

Travel? To where? (1)

SpankiMonki (3493987) | about 10 months ago | (#45929185)

Are any of these ventures actually transporting anyone anywhere other than straight up and straight back down to the same spot? Do any of them ever plan to actually get a human from, say, New York to Tokyo? If not, these services create about as much economic benefit as one of those giant bungie powered slingshot chair thingies you see by the side of the interstate.

On the other hand, the idea of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ashton Kutcher, Justin Beiber, and Richard Branson together in a small area covered in their own puke has a certain appeal to it.

Re:Travel? To where? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 10 months ago | (#45930489)

Are any of these ventures actually transporting anyone anywhere other than straight up and straight back down to the same spot?

A few of them are planning to bring humans from the ground to the ISS and back. Does that count?

Re:Travel? To where? (1)

SpankiMonki (3493987) | about 10 months ago | (#45932449)

A few of them are planning to bring humans from the ground to the ISS and back. Does that count?

MirCorp/Space Adventures already did that, and it was purely for the amusement of their passengers.

There are lots of plans for space thrill rides [wikipedia.org] - some are even planning to go to the moon. [wikipedia.org] I was inquiring about the "non-amusement park" side of the industry - specifically getting a human from point a on earth to point b on earth. There was a time in my career when traveling from the US to Asia occurred fairly frequently, and it was a nightmare. Correct me if I'm wrong, but so far none of these ventures appear to be planning a service for folks like me.

Re:Travel? To where? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 10 months ago | (#45935581)

I was inquiring about the "non-amusement park" side of the industry.

I was referring to the "non-amusement park" side of the industry; specifically SpaceX and others of that ilk, who will be ferrying people back and forth to the ISS for work. Space Adventures is a reseller, and MirCorp closed a decade ago, so they don't count.

There are aerospace companies working on SSTs, but the main reason there isn't a lot of suborbital point to point is that you need to have a lot of horizontal velocity to get anywhere, and that horizontal velocity needs to be nullified. The level of horizontal velocity is close, like 80%+, to orbital velocity. Think about it. Which is harder, a hop across lake Michigan, or a hop across the Pacific? A trip to space, is a simple hundred km up. You only need fuel to accelerate upwards. Gravity slows you down to a stop, and the return trip is nowhere near orbital velocities, so you don't even need heat shields. On the other hand, a transcontinental trip requires a horizontal acceleration, and deceleration. Since you're going at 80ish percent of orbital velocities, you're going to need a lot more fuel and reentry will require heat shields (unless you want to do a retro-burn, in which case you have to carry even more fuel.

Of course, that isn't to say people aren't working on it, but it will be a long, long while before it is commercially viable.

Has to be done in order (2, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 10 months ago | (#45929499)

The "big year for commercial space travel" will come right after the "big year for Linux on the desktop".

First things first, after all.

nonsense - 2014 is the year of big screen 4K HDTV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45930387)

Buy a 4K HDTV or go in debt travel to space

2014? Nope; 2014-2016 is (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 10 months ago | (#45932543)

These 3 years are where everything comes together.
Starting this year, VG will start flying Scaled's SS2 for sub-orbital flights. Within 2 years after that, 2 more crafts (xcor and Blue Horizon's) will join up and offer competition. That will drive prices down to 100K for all 3 companies.

Then from 2015-2017, 3 companies will fly humans commercially to orbital; SpaceX's Dragon Rider will be first in 2015. Then the next one will be Boeing's CST-100 in 2016, and SNC's DC will be either 2016 or 2017. However, multiple comments here speak about the atlas not being human rated and do not realize that part of Boeing's money for CST-100 is to human rate Atlas. BUT, supposedly, CST-100 AND DC will be allowed to be mated to either Atlas OR F9. And yes, the F9 can fly the DC.

BUT, what is missing on the orbital flights is that few ppl are going to pay 20 million to orbit earth a few days in a tin can. Instead, these will be used to transport to a space Station. ISS, at least on the western side, is not allowed commercial flights for tourism. So, where will these ppl fly? To Bigelow Aerospace's Space Stations. BA will start building it next year IFF SpaceX gets dragon rider flying with humans. It will take just several flights to assemble a space station that has more volume than the ISS. So, starting in 2016, multiple nations are looking to be on BA's alpha. In addition, it is very likely that there will be tourists on-board. First the first year or two, it will likely costs $30 million / person for 1-2 months. BUT, by 2017, SpaceX will have re-usable first stage, which will drop this price to about $15M. Or 30 million for 6 months or more.

Basically, 2014 is the START of commercial space and VG will make big headlines for their first flight.
But it will take 3-4 years to move from sub-orbital to full orbital and everybody looking towards the moon by 2020, and mars by 2025.

Re:2014? Nope; 2014-2016 is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45932915)

No, the 1970s were the START for private commercial space ventures with OTRAG. It failed, and so will these. It'll take longer to fail because they are the hobby projects of billionaires with nothing else to do. They can keep pumping money into the project because they are like the Pyramids, a massive spectacle designed to show off POWER.

" To Bigelow Aerospace's Space Stations."

Oh yes, from a tin can to an inflatable garbage bag! Genius! We're closer and closer to warp drive every day!

You're a Space Nutter.

Re:2014? Nope; 2014-2016 is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45932929)

but you are an idiot.

$250 a ticket! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45932721)

According to their poll, it's a real bargain.

Hardly (1)

WillyWanker (1502057) | about 10 months ago | (#45933093)

I can't afford a plane ticket to Florida or LA. I don't think I, or anyone I know, will be heading into space anytime soon.

Human Space (1)

LordOxford (3424511) | about 10 months ago | (#45936353)

Human Space? have we lost our will for anything other than money and thrills?

We (government and corporate) are going to lose the opportunity to get past low earth orbit due to the minefield of hyper-velocity space junk, now exponentially multiplying by collisions with other space junk. Impact speeds are extremely high - 10Km/sec is not unusual, and at such speeds a sugar cube will blast a hole through most structures. The cleanup, and ongoing orbital insertions (and recapture) needs doing VERY SOON... see http://savingthepla.net/ [savingthepla.net] - problem #2

I propose that a "non-corporate" and "non-national" organization or agency be tasked and funded. http://unitedspaceagency.com/ [unitedspaceagency.com] describes such a system, and also provides 2 major bases for ETs (Extra-Terrestrial HUMANS) to permanently live in. http://haven1.com/ [haven1.com] and http://leo-port.com/ [leo-port.com] . AscentCraft.com spells out some designs for achieving this, requiring only drive hardware such as manufactured in the SIXTIES with modern control, computing and communication gear.

The $10Bn budget (unfairly "equally") shared by the 6Bn population who would get some benefit from this (the other 1Bn do not presently get sufficient nutrition) - Problem #5 in a fairer sharing it's about 10cents a week- and 1/2 Hr of effort. Read the websites. help with them, if you can. YES... It could be real in this year -

..and (modified) Haven1 type craft could usefully go to Deimos - an ideal manufacturing base, and take 40 passengers to thrill seek nearby Mars within a few years, though Haven1 offers a far better living environment to stay in, manufacture in, farm in. "tin cans" for 6 to live in for several years, with inadequate solar storm screening and hard-tack provisions, without backup or rescue sems like a stupid risk to say "I got there first, kicked a rock, and planted the first flag" - It is theEASY collection of materials from Deimos and Phobos - and the asteroid belt beyond - that make continued expansion into the solar system possible - the planets are NOT suitable for living on, but Haven1 is.

Commerce? - well yes, we do need the incomes of rich capitalists LEO-PORT (300Km Equatorial) is the first assembly point, with 1/10 G living, and 0G shirtsleeve construction and entertainment space. You can still use a normal toilet, shower, eat food and drink from a cup or glass in the living areas and do zero G ballet or gymnastics, though 1/10 G is pretty "enabling"! - more G if you want it - see the websites

LordOxford 1301-014 KohChang, TH

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