October 04, 2004

SpaceShipOne wins the X-Prize. For the first time, a commercial space ship has made it repeatedly into space and returned within a short period of time. As a consequence, aside from making history, they win the $10,000,000 X-Prize to get their company going on the dream of space travel for tourism and industry.

Of course, it should also help to reduce the cost of space travel in general, thus giving us additional resources for adding satellites and orbital research stations and, oh, whatever else space is good for. Personally, I just want to go into space; the rest is just a bonus.

  • This is turning out to be one fine Monday...
  • I remember seeing a special on this in the late '90s that predicted commuter space transcontinental flights by 2010. Wonder if they'll make it.
  • Hmm, I think they'll make it for rich space tourists by 2010, especially with Virgin Galactic on the scene. I believe commuter space transcontinental flights were viewed as a succesor to the Concorde, i.e., an all in one plane that would have ramjets or scramjets that could take it incredibly high at fast speeds. With the X prize won, maybe research will return to these 'space planes' that were in the running before rockets and the attached moon program sucked much of the focus away from them. I'd guess by 2020, we might have a "Beijing to Frankfurt" flight similar to the transatlantic Concorde flights of the past. This whole thing does make me excited though, thinking of how the airline industry took off (pun partially intended) in the 30s.
  • Sweet! I'm surprised this isn't getting more play in the news.
  • I'm surprised this isn't getting more play in the news. Unforntunately, it looks like a natural eruption at Mt. St. Helens and an unnatural eruption in Iraq are keeping the media on the ground.
  • I do still have one concern regarding the eventual profitability of space tourism. It's called insurance. Personal injury claims bankrupted most of the American general aviation industry in the '70s and '80s. And right now, insurance is one of the biggest expenses for the satellite launch industry. Finally, the sort of people who can pay $100,000 for a flight ticket usually also have the sort of lawyers who can find their way through even the most stringent waivers if their client so much as breaks a nail during the flight... I just don't know how Branson will find a way around that.
  • I had a friend who nearly always has the SciFi channel playing in the background, "What's SpaceShipOne and what's this X Prize?" Sigh. This stuff is so much more fun to read about than yet another piece about the upcoming election debates.