super luminous velocity

it's not like it's rocket science

Virgin Galactic Greenlighted by US

U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) gave Virgin Galactic of the UK the go ahead to share information with the Mojave based Scaled Composites. Under US law any firm classified as an air weapons manufacturer needs to be given permission before sharing that technology with other countries for obvious reasons. Virgin Galactic, headed up by the market straddling mogul Richard Branson (my hero) bought the rights to Burt Rutan's Spaceship One, winner of the Anasari X-prize.

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The X-Prize was a measely $10 Million refund for Scaled Composites funder Paul Allen (of Microsoft). The real prize was the worldwide publicity, and enough of a guts and glory factor to attract Branson. Since the historic flight last October, Branson has outlined a plan to start sending tourists into space at $20 thousand a ticket. That's about a hundred times less then Denis Tito paid (granted he got several days and they will only get 15 minutes).

Last month, Branson and Rutan formed a new joint company called "The Spaceship Company" intended to manufacture a fleet of spacecraft to jumpstart Virgin Galactic's burgeoning suborbital tourism effort. The first craft on the board is called "Spacship Two", a scaled up 9 passenger version of the original craft. Additionally, the new company will be producing and testing a new launch plane called "Eve" modled after White Knight.

The current plan calls for flights to begin in four years. If anyone has the guts and the funding to do it, it's Branson and Rutan.

This is a huge step in humanity opening the door on living in space. Tourism by the wealthy is the first stage of acceptance into mainstream society for somthing as difficult as this. It will start as a luxury, but as the technology becomes more popular, the cost advantages of space living will become painfully obvious. Especially as living on Earth becomes increasingly more difficult and expensive.

(See "The Dawn of the Corporate Space Cowboys")

Moon-tennis anyone? Hit the slopes of Olympus Mons? How about a room with a view and 1/3 Earth's gravity?

This is a very exciting time to be an aerospace engineer.

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