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Regulations Could Delay or Prevent Space Tourism

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the fly-me-to-the-moon dept.

Space 186

schwit1 writes "This report explains how Virgin Galactic space tourists could be grounded by federal regulations. From the article: 'Virgin Galactic submitted an application to the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation in late August 2013, says Attenborough. The office, which goes by the acronym AST, has six months to review the application, meaning an approval may come as early as February. Industry experts, however, say that may be an overly optimistic projection. "An application will inevitably be approved, but it definitely remains uncertain exactly when it will happen," says Dirk Gibson, an associate professor of communication at the University of New Mexico and author of multiple books on space tourism. "This is extremely dangerous and unchartered territory. It's space travel. AST has to be very prudent," he says. "They don't want to endanger the space-farers or the public, and they can't let the industry get started and then have a Titanic-like scenario that puts an end to it all in the eyes of the public.""

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Certainly the government can make sure it's safe (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032889)

I mean, after all, they did a great job with the first civilian they sent to space.

Re:Certainly the government can make sure it's saf (1, Insightful)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 8 months ago | (#46032943)

They can't even get their own name right.

"FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation [...] which goes by the acronym AST"

Re:Certainly the government can make sure it's saf (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 8 months ago | (#46033619)

AST is "Administrator for Space Transportation".

Part of that is due to its earlier history when it was directly under the Secretary of Transportation, but instead it is now a part of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Re: Certainly the government can make sure it's sa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032951)

Yeah maybe after wasting billions of dollars and it taking years to go into space

Re: Certainly the government can make sure it's sa (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032977)

Yeah, sort of like how all those private job creators got to the Moon in 1969! Yeah! Fuck that Fox News chicken you retard!

Re:Certainly the government can make sure it's saf (2)

TheLink (130905) | about 8 months ago | (#46033071)

Yeah the day I consider it safe is the day people stop clapping their hands just because the spacecraft takes off without blowing up on the launchpad.

After that it becomes a mature tech when commercial passengers start complaining about the in-flight options and other petty stuff. ;)

Re:Certainly the government can make sure it's saf (5, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 8 months ago | (#46033975)

the day people stop clapping their hands just because the spacecraft takes off without blowing up on the launchpad.

People clap because its fucking awesome.

Re:Certainly the government can make sure it's saf (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 8 months ago | (#46034033)

Well, they got her into space in one piece. It's the whole "getting them back down in one piece" that was tricky.

Titanic (5, Insightful)

Spaham (634471) | about 8 months ago | (#46032903)

Oh, like the Titanic stopped boat traveling, right ?

Re:Titanic (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032929)

Hindenburg would have been a better example.

Re:Titanic (0)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | about 8 months ago | (#46033211)

Hindenburg would have been a better example.

Except the Hindenburg wasn't a boat

Hindenburg (4, Informative)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 8 months ago | (#46033307)

Actually, many similarities: airships float in a sea of air, using buoyancy just as a ship does. Perhaps more like a submarine, but those are boats too. :)

And the loss of the Hindenburg certainly put a crimp in airship travel!

Re:Hindenburg (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 8 months ago | (#46033433)

So, Airplanes are just jet skis in the sky.

I get what you're saying, that there are similarities, but such over broad definitions are utterly pointless. A submarine takes on fluid to dive, and is more buoyant than the fluid it traverses. Airships have ballasts too, however, a submarine doesn't have nacelles (sacks, bladders) of air within its frame to provide the buoyancy and the pressures it must operate in are at MOST 1 to 0 atmospheres, whereas a submarine must withstand hundreds of times this. The atmosphere is far more unstable than the seas -- wind moves MUCH faster than water currents. So we have two vastly different problems, light weight frame capable of floating in air AND navigating despite very strong air currents, versus a dense vessel with a single "bladder" (the breathable air) with heavyweight construction for withstanding huge pressures which suffering a rupture is a far more serious affair, requiring immediate attention -- unlike the air boat, which will just drift back to the ground if you pop one of its many nacelles and don't do a damn thing about it.

Now let's consider a hovercraft. It's a boat too eh? It traverses water, has all the trappings of a sea-faring vessel including propellers. Ah, but a sail boat doesn't use a fluid-screw to drive its motion, and it's a boat. So, what else has internal air and buoyancy and travels fluids, why people do! People are boats. They're submarines! So are whales, and dolphins, and bears, and lions, and -- and -- You've made the word fucking useless. That's why an airplane is not a jet ski. That's why an airship is not a boat.

Re:Hindenburg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033513)

Re:Hindenburg (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | about 8 months ago | (#46033609)

Actually, many similarities: airships float in a sea of air, using buoyancy just as a ship does. Perhaps more like a submarine, but those are boats too. :)

And the loss of the Hindenburg certainly put a crimp in airship travel!

So if I understand you correctly, you are saying that the statement:
'Hindenburg stopped boat traveling' is correct then :-)?

Re:Hindenburg (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 8 months ago | (#46033997)

And yet only ~50 people died, much less than was on board at the time. Compared to a modern airliner going down. Fears are mostly irrational.

Re:Titanic (1)

bkmoore (1910118) | about 8 months ago | (#46033379)

Hindenburg would have been a better example.

Economics stopped commercial Airship travel, not the Hindenburg disaster. Airplanes were simply less expensive, faster, and more reliable.

Re:Titanic (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 8 months ago | (#46033649)

The loss of the Hindenberg did not stop airship travel. It was the technology itself that basically sucked wind and was far too costly to continue any further investment. While for a time there was some huge concern about the use of hydrogen as a lifting gas, even that I find as a side argument to the much larger problems that come from any lighter than air vehicles.

The U.S. Navy had several air ships as commissioned ships and made some serious attempts to make them useful including an attempt to turn them into aircraft carriers in the sky or to use them for lifting large numbers of bombs over a target. Unfortunately they are extremely slow, hard to handle on the ground when they land, and are just plain costly to operate needing hundreds of people just to load & unload the vehicle. Far more people than are needed even today for a container ship and certainly more than are needed to unload a 747 or A380 today.

It was the large aircraft that was the final nail in the coffin of airships, in terms of widespread usage. They still have a niche role for wealthy tourists who want to do something different, for television aerial shots (especially at sports arenas), and for some advertising applications. Airships definitely can't compete against other forms of transportation for general distribution of bulk goods or even passenger travel that is anything more than an exotic alternative which is the draw all by itself.

Re:Titanic (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 8 months ago | (#46033865)

It most certainly did, for a whole bunch of it's passengers and crew, permanently. Corporations can only be trusted to do it cheaper and cheaper and cheaper, right up until cheaper guarantees failure, then they declare bankrupt and the public pays to clean it up (whilst all the profits generated up until then appear to disappear up a banksters blackhole).

That's stupid (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032905)

As much as I think "space tourism" is an overhyped amusement park ride for jaded rich white people, you don't need government regulation to prevent "space tourism". The high cost to go to the upper atmosphere in a tin can guarantees it'll never be more than a distraction. Much like flying in a MiG. You know anyone who flew in a MiG? No? What makes you think that "space tourism" will be any different?

Please explain how staying in the plane is "tourism"?

"Hey guys! I just went to Paris! I stayed in the plane the whole time and flew over it and came back! Wow! I'm exploring!"

Re:That's stupid (4, Insightful)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 8 months ago | (#46033021)

"Hey guys! I just went to Paris! I stayed in the plane the whole time and flew over it and came back!

People take balloon and helicopter rides, cruises, etc, just to sight-see. There are routine 747 flights over Antarctica which never land there, sight-seeing only through little airliner windows.

Re:That's stupid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033039)

Exactly. No one calls that "atmosphere tourism". Sight seeing? Yes, when there are things to actually, you know, SEE. An empty deadly vacuum is not that much of a destination, you know? So we agree that "space tourism" is just an overhyped, uncritical gee-whiz way of saying "balloon ride for boys who like rocket noises".

The Largest Gallery (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 months ago | (#46033093)

An empty deadly vacuum is not that much of a destination, you know?

It is when it's a gallery that holds one singularly fine blue object on full display.

Plus, weightlessness.

Frankly I don't agree with anything you are saying.

Re:The Largest Gallery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033397)

you can't take the sky from me.

Re:The Largest Gallery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033463)

Build a fucking Firefly, then you can bitch and moan about how the Alliance is keeping you down.

Re:The Largest Gallery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46034203)

I don't care about a Firefly unless the Serenity crew is included.

Re:The Largest Gallery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033903)

It is when it's a gallery that holds one singularly fine blue object on full display.

Plus, weightlessness.

Frankly I don't agree with anything you are saying.

Paying couple hundred grand to go to the EDGE OF SPACE isn't exactly going to space. If it was Virgin Galactic Moon well fuck me that would be a different story and I'd eat my left foot but this is edge of space... come on dude that isn't even close to impressive at all. Just look up at the night sky with a telescope or with your own eyes it's the same shit man, minus you know the $250,000 for those precious 15-20min of sight seeing.

Stop being so gullible for foolish products like this Virgin Galactic nonsense, it's just a scam for rich folks.

Re:That's stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033225)

You're going to die of old age, QA. You're going to live a long and mostly-happy life, but then you're going to die of old age.

Re:That's stupid (1)

geogob (569250) | about 8 months ago | (#46033731)

There are routine 747 flights over Antarctica which never land there, sight-seeing only through little airliner windows.

Might be, but the goal of the these flights is not to fly over Antarctica, but to link cities between Australia and South America or Africa. Special regulations apply for those flights, along with operational limitations.

Re:That's stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033799)

There are routine 747 flights over Antarctica which never land there, sight-seeing only through little airliner windows.

[citation needed].

There *were* DC-10 flights weekly out of New Zealand, until one day they drove the DC-10 into the side of a mountain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

Whether there still are any, and if any have ever used a 747, I think are very open questions.

AC

Re:That's stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033821)

Same old AC here with a correction: According to http://www.erebus.co.nz/ there have been at least two chartered 747 flights over Antarctica, although 'chartered for that flight only' is hardly 'routine', and it was in 1977.

AC

Re:That's stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033025)

As much as I think "space tourism" is an overhyped amusement park ride for jaded rich white people"

Why white people? You can't bring crack into space?

Re:That's stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033129)

No fried chicken or watermelon served on Virgin Galactic, apparently.

Re:That's stupid (2)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#46033175)

Russia, China, and a dozen other countries have air forces and ex air force officers who have flown MIGs .
Did you have an actual point?
Staying in the plane is kind of expected in space. But when that thrill dies out, and Virgin's next model can reach something approximating an orbit they can sell space walks. You'll no doubt be around to say it doesn't count if you wear a space suit.

Tell you what, you just go ahead and move the goal posts any where you want. We'll all know tow to your wisdom.

Re:That's stupid (3, Insightful)

Bartles (1198017) | about 8 months ago | (#46033359)

"jaded rich white people"? Do you think non-white people might be interested in traveling into space? Are only rich white people jaded? Can a brown person be rich and jaded? Or just jaded?

Re:That's stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033719)

Pft, like you ever get out of the basement.

Re:That's stupid (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | about 8 months ago | (#46033863)

As much as I think "space tourism" is an overhyped amusement park ride for jaded rich white people,...

As a jaded poor white person, it doesn't make sense to me how race plays into this. I don't know you or your beliefs, but there are racist who would use a phrase like that. If we ever want to have a color-blind society, we're all going to need to practice it.

launch in a 3rd world country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032923)

The French launch their satellites from French Polynesian island off a high tech raft launch platform. So can Virgin Atlantic.

Re:launch in a 3rd world country (1)

Spaham (634471) | about 8 months ago | (#46032927)

French Polynesia is, like the name says, French, not a third world country.

Re:launch in a 3rd world country (2)

Strider- (39683) | about 8 months ago | (#46032971)

Ahh, in true AC style, you get pretty much everything wrong...

ESA launches their satellites from Kourou, in French Guiana, South America.

Re:launch in a 3rd world country (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 8 months ago | (#46033671)

Ahh, in true AC style, you get pretty much everything wrong...

ESA launches their satellites from Kourou, in French Guiana, South America.

Which is also politically and culturally a part of France itself. People in French Guiana vote in all national elections. Essentially think of it more like the relationship that Hawaii has with America and you get a pretty good idea what the relationship is between French Guiana and the rest of France. It is even considered a part of the European Union.

Yeah, that is some backward 3rd world nation, unless you think France is that backward nation itself.

Re:launch in a 3rd world country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033877)

... unless you think France is that backward nation itself.

Careful, someone might actually take you up on that ;-)

Re:launch in a 3rd world country (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 8 months ago | (#46033011)

The French launch their satellites from French Polynesian island off a high tech raft launch platform. So can Virgin Atlantic.

What?... And change their name to Virgin Pacific?

extremely dangerous and unchartered territory (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032933)

"space travel"? Uncharted? We've been doing it since 1961. Big whoop. And sub-orbital hops that stay in the atmosphere are not "space travel", no matter how grandiose the company name. Virgin Galactic!!! Wow! Just wait for my new company!

Sluts Universal!

How you like that!?

Re:extremely dangerous and unchartered territory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032997)

"space travel"? Uncharted? We've been doing it since 1961. Big whoop."

"We" ? Got a space race based out of an arms race in your pocket? "We" spent BILLIONS to get to this point. It's not for fucking TOURISTS.

"WE" can't even manage cruise ships in the ocean on EARTH very well considering... "we", pfft.

Re:extremely dangerous and unchartered territory (2, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46033049)

This is pretty funny.

"They don't want to endanger the space-farers or the public, and they can't let the industry get started and then have a Titanic-like scenario that puts an end to it all in the eyes of the public."

??? WTF ??? What business of theirs is it AT ALL, except to make sure that rockets don't crash into airplanes? It's private business, the government isn't doing shit to "ensure" the safety of passengers or anybody else... THEY aren't to blame if a "Titanic" event were to happen... and even if it did, people would probably take it in stride just like they did the goddamned Challenger Disaster, which WAS government's fault.

Who the hell do they think they are? And what world are they living in?

Re:extremely dangerous and unchartered territory (2, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about 8 months ago | (#46033073)

They live in the nanny state where it's the job of the government to make sure you don't miss a step and get a boo-boo.

Re:extremely dangerous and unchartered territory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033411)

In the case of space flight, a "boo boo" can mean:
Your craft comes down on a populated area. (range-saftey should have a destruct system on board).
Your craft could collide with another craft (should at least have a transponder).
Your craft could break up and pose a threat to orbital craft (unlikely for suborbital flights).
etc.

I'll take my range-safety, thanks.

Re:extremely dangerous and unchartered territory (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 8 months ago | (#46033669)

Sure, and all this could easily be covered under existing regulations of the FAA. Maybe some minor tweaks. Want to bet what happens? I bet we get at least a couple of new agencies, maybe 20 thousand new government jobs. Just what we need another bureaucracy. The stuff you listed are good ideas. Lets not stop there though. Have to have at least 200 thousand new regulations so we can make sure the price for putting someone in orbit triples. It's the way things work. I like safety as much as the next guy but the typical way things are done now include enough overkill to stifle any chance at making a profit. US corporations didn't flee to overseas production just for lower wages. The place they really save is avoiding the EPA, FLA, and OSHA. I'd bet anything commercial orbital companies end up offshore as well.

Re:extremely dangerous and unchartered territory (3, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46033099)

(Qualifier: Yes, we know that Morton Thiokol designed the system and made the O-rings, but NASA administrators were familiar with the situation and approved the launch anyway.)

Re:extremely dangerous and unchartered territory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033245)

Much as the Titanic happened on its own, the Lusitania disaster was caused by the government . . . both actions that created the situation and inaction when those in the government knew full well what would happen.

Never trust the government - especially when it claims that it is helping or protecting.

Most stupid comment ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033263)

The governement ensure with a lot of regulation that your ass is safe. What do you think those 3 letters agency like FDA are for ? Or EPA regulations ? In this precise case that governement would set a minimum standard of safety for travel to space, where it can be done (to ensure a returning space ship does not crash in a city), at what time, under which conditions and so forth. Only a 3rd world hell hole would not put any conditions whatsoever to space flight.

Re:Most stupid comment ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033415)

The governement ensure with a lot of regulation that your ass is safe. What do you think those 3 letters agency like FDA are for ?

My uncle died of food poisoning, you insensitive clod!

Re:extremely dangerous and unchartered territory (2)

artor3 (1344997) | about 8 months ago | (#46033369)

You could use your same "logic" to argue against the FDA. It's a private business selling the food and the medicine, and the government isn't to blame if its poisonous.

But we're much better off when we come together as a country and put some safety measures in place. That's what government is for. Doing things that would be impossible for loosely organized individuals, but which are beneficial to the public.

Re:extremely dangerous and unchartered territory (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 8 months ago | (#46033441)

??? WTF ??? What business of theirs is it AT ALL, except to make sure that rockets don't crash into airplanes?

There's two basic things in play here:
1. Private space travel has potential to be a very profitable business.
2. Private space travel is going to produce a lot of R&D that NASA can put to use.

In both instances, it's very much in the government's interest to see that this nascent industry gets off the ground smoothly and without a high profile disaster.
Nobody in NASA or the FAA wants private space travel to head off to another country.

Who the hell do they think they are? And what world are they living in

They think they're the people who are granted authority under law to regulate space travel.
They live in a world where tolerance for risk is not what it was 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago.

molon labe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032945)

Who's going to pull me over, seriously?

Bullet meet foot (5, Insightful)

horm (2802801) | about 8 months ago | (#46032961)

Sounds like a good way to drive privatized space travel to another country.

Re:Bullet meet foot (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 months ago | (#46033051)

Sounds like a good way to drive privatized space travel to another country.

Maybe that's a good thing. It could be a national embarrassment if something goes wrong. We already push our pollution, risk, and child slave labor to 3rd world countries, why not add embarrassment to the list?

Re:Bullet meet foot (2)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#46033061)

Won't happen, because these government grandstanders aren't going to get in the way.
Its official US policy to privitize space launch businesses and make them economically feasible.
Virgin has the only plan that gets private money into the game today. Everyone else is launching government payloads at public expense.

The current Virgin ship isn't going to be launching any serious payloads, but it will fund continuing development.
Nobody is going to stand in the way of any vehicle until there is a disaster. Noboby is in a position to certify this vehicle is safe, or declare it unsafe. There are no such published standards.

Re:Bullet meet foot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033113)

It might take another country a few more decades to steal enough technology to make space travel viable, but yes, another country will do it eventually. Fuck the federal USA.

Re:Bullet meet foot (1)

Noishkel (3464121) | about 8 months ago | (#46033305)

Sounds like a plan to me. Who's up for building the Sea Land International Space Port?

do not question your government (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46032963)

Do not question your government's financial interest in preventing you from leaving Earth. Now pay your taxes and pay no attention to the boot stomping on your face forever.

Re:do not question your government (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033107)

You are free to go into a dead, deadly, empty vacuum with nothing in it and die there within weeks. Wouldn't want to have air, water and food brought up from the big, bad evil gubmint, after all. What is it with you delusional far-right Objectivist knucklefucks and your knee-jerk religious space worshiping? It's SPACE. It's EMPTY. You are so afraid of the goverment? Go colonize the South Pole. No one's going to stop you. Only pussies and weaklings will find excuses to never go there.

Pussy. Paranoid delusional pussy faggot coward. Go, go buy some clothes and a tent and go colonize the South Pole. Do it. You don't need help, right? Your mighty penis of the free market doesn't need help, right? That's socialism. Right?

GO AND COLONIZE YOUR BLESSED EMPTY DEADLY DESERT. You pussy. You don't have the guts to get off the couch and put down the video games. You couldn't even last a week living as a homeless person right here on Earth (who needs the boot of government on your face, right? As opposed to the silk glove of the fascist job creators!) but you'll thrive in space!

GO. LEAVE. GO AWAY. Go with your giant space erection and have free-market sex with asteroids YOU TREMBLING COWARD. YOU FEAR-MONGERING PARANOID PUSSY.

GO NOW. LEAVE.

Re:do not question your government (1)

crakbone (860662) | about 8 months ago | (#46033205)

I like the Trembling coward thing. From an AC.

Re:do not question your government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033209)

You don't have the guts to get off the couch and put down the video games.

Damn, how'd you know, bro?!

They know all about safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033001)

The shuttle program lost 40% of it's fleet and the chance of dying on a flight was %1.48 -- yeah, they know all about safety.

So, launch from off shore (4, Insightful)

bobjr94 (1120555) | about 8 months ago | (#46033015)

Just like cruise ships are registered all over the world, typically in countries with fewer regulations, whats to stop these space tourism companies from doing the same thing. If you can pay $100,000 or whatever for a quick trip into space, kicking in another $700 for airfare shouldn't be a deal breaker.

Re:So, launch from off shore (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 8 months ago | (#46033333)

White Knight can't take off from a ship.

Re:So, launch from off shore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033613)

White Knight can't take off from a ship.

What the hell does that have to do with anything?

GP said you pay $700 to fly to China or Russia then take off from a launchpad there.

Re:So, launch from off shore (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about 8 months ago | (#46033381)

I don't know about you, but if I'm going to throw $100K toward a thrill ride that could easily end in my death, I'm not inclined to do so with a company that chooses to operate outside of an established government regulatory authority.

Re:So, launch from off shore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033701)

Like you would anyway.

Re:So, launch from off shore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033483)

They would still need permission from the United States government to launch anything into space.

Re:So, launch from off shore (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 8 months ago | (#46033751)

They would still need permission from the United States government to launch anything into space.

I'm sure Hugo Chávez would get right on that whole asking for permissions thing, if they chose to put a launch site in Venezuela. After all, he really, really likes the U.S., right?

Or if they sited one in Russia, I'm sure that Russia would probably send over their request for the U.S. permission for a launch in the same envelope they send over the papers agreeing to extradite Snowden, because they love the U.S. so much these days, too.

Re:So, launch from off shore (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46034171)

I'm sure Hugo ChÃvez would get right on that whole asking for permissions thing, if they chose to put a launch site in Venezuela. After all, he really, really likes the U.S., right?

Yeah, it would be a real miracle if Chavez asked a permission to do anything from USA nowadays.

A real real miracle.

Insurance? (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 months ago | (#46033085)

Does Obamacare cover craterification?

Re:Insurance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033523)

No, Obamacare is craterification

- GOP :-)

Worth the risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033095)

I think anyone paying $200,000 dollars to reach the edge of space knows the risk they take. I know I would. I would never hold it against them if something went wrong and I died. If nothing else, you would be remembered for a long long time.

Re:Worth the risk (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | about 8 months ago | (#46033661)

$200,000 is not that much anymore, and the price will likely come down,keep in mind a 100+ day around the world cruise on a nice cruise ship like the QM2 already runs around $30,000 - $70,000 per person depending on cabin catagory, and they seem to have no problem selling tickets.

Re:Worth the risk (1)

isorox (205688) | about 8 months ago | (#46034041)

$200,000 is not that much anymore, and the price will likely come down,keep in mind a 100+ day around the world cruise on a nice cruise ship like the QM2 already runs around $30,000 - $70,000 per person depending on cabin catagory, and they seem to have no problem selling tickets.

Quite. A return ticket on a plane New York to London costs $20k

Re:Worth the risk (2)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 8 months ago | (#46033739)

Rich people (and their families) also tend to have expensive law firms on retainer. In the event of a mishap leading to injury or death, they might try to sue VG anyway, despite whatever sort of "waiver" they make you sign. Large estates sometimes get tied up in courts for years by heirs and creditors. It's not hard to imagine a scenario where VG could get caught up in such a dispute.

OTOH, Richard Branson also has expensive law firms on retainer, and I'm sure they've evaluated the risks and prepared as well as possible.

Anyway, I agree with you. If I had that much "disposable" cash, I'd definitely take that ride.

Space Tourists ... Oh Boy! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033149)

The "Ship Of Fools" from Australia (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/01/12/ship_of_fools_in_the_antarctic_121200.html) provides a very good reason to stop "Space Tourism" before the "Fools" get to launch!

However, Bon Ki Moon, distant relative of the Reverend Sun Young Moon, remember him [?], loves Space Tourism! Why. "Big Whitey!" You see, Reverend Bon Ki Moon is racist, i.e. he hates Caucasians, i.e. "Big Whitey." And he has a dilemma to solve in "Global Human Warming."

His Wolfenstein High Command the International Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) has for decades identified the sole cause of "climate change" as due to "Global Human Warming." In the Reverend Moon's mind, "Global Human Warming" = Caucasians i.e. "BIG WHITEY!"

In order to stop "Global Human Warming" the UN Reverend Moon needs to kill "BIG WHITEY!" How to kill "BIG WHITEY" the famous Reverend Moon UN High Command asks himself? Answer!: Space Tourism Fool Whitey! Only 'BIG WHITEY" can pay for such a lavish thrill! Therefore, sending bus loads of "BIG WHITEY" into near-Earth orbit to die will kill "Global Human Warming!" Brilliant! As the Great Reverend Moon of the UN tells himself in the mirror every morning and day and night.

Ha ha

"Titanic scenario" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033165)

So they are worried that a not-top-of-the-line space plane will crash into an asteroid and kill almost everyone. The media will be horrified at the disaster, with the designers calling it (in hindsight only) un-asteroid-collisionable. The public won't care because in the end space planes are still the most luxurious and cost-effective way to travel in space. Eventually some big-shot director will make a movie out of it starring some actor who never gets an oscar.

The Titanic ended what exactly? (0)

J'raxis (248192) | about 8 months ago | (#46033215)

"They don't want to endanger the space-farers or the public, and they can't let the industry get started and then have a Titanic-like scenario that puts an end to it all in the eyes of the public."

Right, because after the Titanic, there's never been another cruise ship. The very idea of sea travel came to an end in the eyes of the public!

Because the Titanic really wrecked ocean travel .. (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | about 8 months ago | (#46033235)

"They don't want to endanger the space-farers or the public, and they can't let the industry get started and then have a Titanic-like scenario that puts an end to it all in the eyes of the public."

Puts and end to all of what? Did we stop ocean-faring after Titanic sunk? What is this guy talking about?

Re:Because the Titanic really wrecked ocean travel (1)

ThorGod (456163) | about 8 months ago | (#46033451)

The Hindenburg. But I don't buy it. If anything's holding up space tourism, it's cheaper ways of leaving the surface.

Re:Because the Titanic really wrecked ocean travel (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 8 months ago | (#46034097)

I think what's holding up space travel is the ability to stay up there (and not in the ISS...). Reduced gravity isn't great for humans, we haven't established large permanent structures (the ISS does not count) for colonization. We also haven't worked out how to mine useful resources up there and sustain life with them. Until we do, gravity wells will be an issue (short of sufficiently advanced technology/magic). If you want people to inhabit a new environment, you have to figure out how to keep them alive without bringing them back all the time. The first permanent inhabitants are likely to be miners operating ROVs. All of this should be taken with a healthy grain of IMHO.

Mandated medical procedures for tourists (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 8 months ago | (#46033255)

I wonder if they are going to mandate chest x-rays for anyone coming back to space in order to look for any "abnormalities" [google.com] they may have picked up out there.

FTFA (yea, I know against the rules) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033267)

"It really comes down to two words: informed consent. AST will likely say to a company like Virgin Galactic, 'if you let people know to the best of your current knowledge what the risks are, then it is their decision to make and that's fine with us',"

Space is dangerous (3, Insightful)

physicsphairy (720718) | about 8 months ago | (#46033329)

Please raise your hand if you are planning on using a large controlled explosion to propel yourself into the oxygenless, -270 Celsius medium of space, return by crashing back down hundreds of miles, and your plan to do so is rooted in the belief that this is all fantastically safe and unlikely to result in your death.

I think the government space program has had an overall fatality rate of something not quite 10%. It's reasonable considering just what they've been doing, but even if commercial space flight is 10 X more safe than the program NASA developed, that's still going to be some guaranteed casualties for any widely implemented program. It's certainly nothing you would tolerate coming from an air liner. Anyone going up is going to have to be acknowledging the not-utterly-unlikely possibility of their death

That said, some oversight isn't bad -- as long it's reasonable and not based on the stupid and unquantifiable "We have the prevent the next Titanic" metric -- but what the government should *really* be offering is direct assistance. The program is still small enough that it's entirely reasonable to help out all the viable startups, and nothing is going to promote success and safety so much as direct cooperation with experienced persons at NASA.

Re:Space is dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033651)

My car also propels me by controlled explosion. This is just another example of government oppression and power looking for a vacuum (no pun intended).

Re:Space is dangerous (4, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | about 8 months ago | (#46033725)

I think the government space program has had an overall fatality rate of something not quite 10%. It's reasonable considering just what they've been doing, but even if commercial space flight is 10 X more safe than the program NASA developed, that's still going to be some guaranteed casualties for any widely implemented program. It's certainly nothing you would tolerate coming from an air liner. Anyone going up is going to have to be acknowledging the not-utterly-unlikely possibility of their death

The actual number of people who have died as a direct result of being in a spacecraft which malfunctioned or somehow caused the death of the occupant is a fair bit lower than you are suggesting. See also:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_spaceflight-related_accidents_and_incidents [wikipedia.org]

Of the total number just more than 500 people [wikipedia.org] who have been in space, 22 people have died. While certainly worse than what you would expect for air transportation, it is not a figure to simply pull out of your behind. It is important to note that these are also pioneers with this form of transportation, where at least for the early travellers they literally had no idea what to expect when they even got into space and the designers of these vehicles really didn't know what to anticipate either.

When compared to the deaths of early aviators and even the deaths of passengers in aviation for the first 50 years of air travel, this is dong pretty damn well and has a surprisingly low casualty rate all things considered.

Re:Space is dangerous (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 8 months ago | (#46033733)

> Please raise your hand if you are planning on using a large controlled explosion to propel yourself into the oxygenless,
> -270 Celsius medium of space, return by crashing back down hundreds of miles, and your plan to do so is rooted in the
> belief that this is all fantastically safe and unlikely to result in your death.

I'll take 10km and -60C, but only if I get peanuts and don't get to sit next to the fat guy.

At least for the first ten years, suborbital flights will have a lot more scrutiny than the self-certified minimally-inspected aluminium death-traps which carry millions every year and are invariably the safest mode of transport.
As a bonus, should trouble happen, you probably won't get told to take your seat cushion with you as you exit into frigid waters.

Invisible Dragons Could Delay Space Tourism (2)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 8 months ago | (#46033345)

If we're going to make an exhaustive list of theoretical obstacles, we're going to need a bigger internet.

The Fussy Block Progress (1, Flamebait)

lorelorn (869271) | about 8 months ago | (#46033349)

An aphorism springs to mind: "Never take no, from somebody who can't say yes."

These bureaucrats have no ability to enable space travel, no idea of what it entails in terms of engineering. But they have put themselves in charge of blocking it. Right.

Get the fuck out of the way, bureaucrat, and let the people who can, get on with it.

Regulations anything (1)

Jesrad (716567) | about 8 months ago | (#46033455)

Regulations could delay or prevent .

That's, like, the whole point of regulations in the first place.

*yawn*

dumb (1)

SuperDre (982372) | about 8 months ago | (#46033667)

accidents do happen (see how many accidents have happened during the spacerace by the goverment), restricting the ammount of passengers in the first place is a good step. But just let the industry do, with high reliability if something happens (that'll hopefully make sure they don't cut corners to make a buck). But just grant the commercial parties the permissions, as NASA isn't going anywhere, and spacetravel is heavily needed as resources on the earth are getting less and less, we need to travel to other planets, and the only way that can happen is if we let the industry do their job, and not let it be held back by some f-ing bureaucrats or NASA..

Well... (1)

agrisea (877522) | about 8 months ago | (#46033761)

If you are on a Virgin Galactic space ship and look out a window and see a giant piece of ice... you are not in space.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033961)

"If you are on a Virgin Galactic space ship and look out a window and see a giant piece of ice... you are not in space."

Or a lot further out than the brochure said you'd be.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46033915)

If a bunch of rich people want to act a guinea pigs, that's fine by me. No need for regulation - the less safe it is, the better.

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