25 April 2007

The real space race begins

If you're a regular reader (difficult due to my irregular posting habits, I know), you will probably have guessed what this post title refers to; yes, it is commercial space flight. Although I am as impressed as anyone with the fact that man has made it to the moon, the way we went about it was not so impressive, i.e. the reason for going was pure machismo and the cost was a stupendous burden for very little benefit. The converse is true of commercial spaceflight and what is much more interesting now is the following from Virgin Galactic:

"Scaled Composites is progressing well in producing what will be an exceptional spaceship and launch system. Test flying of the system will commence in 2008 and we expect to start commercial operations towards the end of 2009."

Fully operational commercial spaceflight could be one of the true breakthroughs in my life time, allowing an efficient sustainable exploration of the solar system and beyond. I won't try and predict how fast this will happen, but it seems likely that we are a stage similar to that of 17 December, 1903.

Also exciting is that not all the fun will be in America, as Spaceport Sweden intends to be Virgin Galactic's base of European operations.