So NASA have closed down shop (sort of) and will no longer be sending shuttles into space. No more astronauts well be sent out to explore the immense depths of space. So who will step into their place? Who could possibly afford to carry on pushing the boundaries of space travel? Perhaps Russia? I mean there’s always been a sort of rivalry between America and Russia with their space programmes.
It’s not a country that has any particular expertise in space travel, it’s not even a company that you would usually associate with it. In fact the person stepping into the void is a Brit who goes by the name Richard Branson.
You all know him, successful businessman who founded Virgin (hence the kind of awkward bog post title), expanded into music, retail, phones, airlines and now spacelines with Virgin Galactic…I guess. Except of course, as with everything else, it is purely commercial.
So instead of trained explorers boldly going where hardly anyone has gone before it will be tourists. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read the fact that people could pay to go on holiday in space I couldn’t help but imagine a shuttle floating listlessly through the darkness with people fogging up the glass as they press their noses against the windows while others, in neon bright floral t-shirts, relentlessly click their cameras at every piece of space dust that passes them.
Stereotypical? Yes. Likely? No, not really.
I understand that it won’t be like this, I also understand that it won’t exactly be commercial for the first few years, after all only the rich would really be able to afford it. But, in my ever cynical capacity, I don’t see the need for it. Yes space has always been something that we’ve been curious about. But are we advancing our technology just for the sake of advancing our technology, or is there a logical reason for it?
Richard Branson is exploiting the novelty factor, he’s exploiting the fact that space is something everyone is interested in, for him it’s an easy way to make money. For consumers it’s the future. It’s what we’ve all seen in Star Trek and Doctor Who but also a chance to quench that nagging curiosity in the back of our minds. At some point in our lives we’ve all stopped and stared at the sky, be it at night or during the day, and wondered what it’s like up there.
Branson has predicted that within the next 12 months the next shuttle will be sent up, everything is being tested, after all with travel like this there are may more dangers than there is to simply flying.
- Virgin Galactic opens world’s first commercial spaceport with weird window dancing (slashgear.com)
- Virgin Galactic News of the Day (geeks.thedailywh.at)
- Virgin Galactic christens terminal ‘Gateway to Space’ (Photos) (gadling.com)
- Virgin Galactic Opens World’s First Commercial Spaceport in New Mexico (forbes.com)