A few perspectives, in the eve of Virgin Galactic’s rollout of its first SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism vehicle:
In 2010, the Civilian Space Industry Finally Takes Off
Popular Science’s Sam Howe Verhovek talks about the future with the folks over Virgin Galactic, XCOR and SpaceX. Nothing particularly newsworthy, but some interesting details and lot from the always chatty Elon Musk.
Introducing The Space Tourism Friedman Unit (or STFU)
Over at the Daily Kos, Brian Swiderski isn’t sure that 2010 is the year that civil space takes off so much as it begins some serious flight testing. Or at least Virgin Galactic will do so.
There’s speculation here about when the first commercial flights will take place. Swiderski believes it could be in 2012. Branson has promised to take his family aloft for the first official flight.
For what it’s worth, I could easily see the company aiming to fly on April 12, 2011 – the 5oth anniversary of the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin. This would be a tight schedule given that flight testing usually takes 18-24 months, but it’s not unachievable.
Over at The Space Review, Jeff Foust reports on an emerging space research market that proponents believe could someday be bigger than space tourism itself.
Foust also looks at last week’s hearing by the House Science and Technology Committee, which examined the potential safety of NASA’s Constellation program versus commercial alternatives. Foust wonders if committee members were asking the right questions about the future of human spaceflight.