Months ago, I had been loosely following the Ansari X Prize competition. For those that aren’t familiar with the X Prize, it was a competition to see who could build a privately funded reusable spacecraft, launch it into “orbit”, return to earth and then repeat the launch, orbit and return. The winner would be the first private group to ever reach space… and would receive $10 Million.
The reason for all this, beyond the geeky reasons of just doing it…
Tourism. Yes folks, forget that criuse. Don’t worry about that train trip. Why go to Yosemite when you can hit the ice covered fun of Ganymede? Don’t want to go that far? Why not just take a jaunt to the Moon for the weekend.
What brought this topic on? Well, I was running though my morning news on MSNBC.com and ran across this:
The Federal Aviation Administration has started discussions about guidelines for space tourism. Is this a good thing? I dunno. When I was in elementary school and Jr. high, space stuff was all the rage and I thought it was really cool. We spent years trying to figure out how we could get into SpaceCamp. A trip on the shuttle would have been a cool thing. Yes, even at one point, I was considering the Air Force Academy to lead toward being an astronaut. (I had the grades, but other things got in the way and the idea fell to the wayside.) After all those years in school, Astronomy is still the only kind of science that I can really stand. So the prospects of being able to vacation in space has a certain level of appeal. Stargazing out there would be tres cool. And it seems that it’s close to being a reality. Why? Well, look here:
Yes, that’s right. Move over Boeing. Baibai Airbus. And who needs “Atlantic”. Virgin is prepping to take the world (or at least those with the cash enough to try it) into the stratosphere and beyond with Virgin Galactic. According to the website, they’re planning to start trips to outer space in 2-3 years. Yes, before 2010, you can be chilling in at Rudy T’s on the Moon.
Will it really happen though? Really, only time will tell. Until last year, it was virtually impossible. With the advent of the X Prize and the winning ship, SpaceShipOne (yes, very original name… I wonder how long the marketing guys took to come up with that one…), we’re a step closer. Now all we need is some type of sub-space portal and we’ll all be set.
Yeah. See you Space Cowboy.