Big news this week for Space Tourism. I’ll quote the article. “A go-ahead was given last week by the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) that clears the way for exchanges of technical information between Scaled Composites of Mojave, California and Virgin Galactic of the United Kingdom to build passenger-carrying suborbital spaceliners.”
What does this mean? It means the U.S. has essentially thrown its support behind private space tourism. It means Virgin Galactic (the money) is cleared to gain access to information about how to make this thing happen. As with everything lately, this was evidently a national security issue. Scaled Composites (the brains) has already done it. Burt Rutan is a god damn genius and he won the X-Prize because of his love of space, desire to get regular people there, and vast expertise. But he doesn’t know anything about marketing, consumerism, and hype. Or maybe he does? Together he and Branson are going to get a suborbital tourism business going. The name of the project? The Spaceship Company. How cool is that? They’ll show the world that space sells. Again, these are exciting times.
But what about orbit? Obviously, the next logical step is orbital tourism. That’s the golden ride. And it shouldn’t require a Willy Wonka golden ticket to get there. Average people deserve to go into space. Bigelow Aerospace plans to build the first orbiting hotels. And Robert Bigelow is crazy enough and rich enough to pull it off. He’s already invested $500 million into the project. So in the future, Virgin will get us there. And Bigelow is where we’ll stay. Sounds great to me.
Bobby B has also started another space competition in the same vein as the X-Prize. His is called “America’s Space Prize” and will award $50 Million to the team that can build a space craft capable of getting 7 astronauts to orbit, docking with an orbiting structure (presumably a Bigelow Aerospace habitat) and returning them safely to Earth. With the wild success of the X-Prize, this new competition should open the eyes of many skeptics and space freaks a like.