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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

Posted by: Jambo / 12:06 PM

This was news to me:

Richard Branson, who's selling rides into space for $200,000 (cash up front), is close to sealing a deal to take off from a new spaceport in the New Mexico desert. The first flights are scheduled in three years, and his company, Virgin Galactic, has already collected more than $10 million from future passengers.

The list of paid-up customers includes the architect Philippe Starck, the actress Victoria Principal and the "Superman Returns" director, Bryan Singer. There's a waiting list of thousands, ranging from the actor William Shatner to the cosmologist Stephen Hawking.

Branson expects this venture to more than pay for itself, enabling him to start lowering ticket prices and expanding the business. "We're going to plow all the money back into space," he told me. "We'd love one day to have a hotel up there and keep pushing the boundaries."

He has ordered five spaceships and plans to send more than 700 people into space in the first 18 months, which is more than all the government-sponsored space programs have sent in history.

I'm assuming that for $200,000 you get a pretty short trip--a great view and a few minutes of weightlessness rather than a couple days in orbit. Still, it's a good start, as anything that gets the public interested in exploring space is OK in my book. John Tierney, in his typical wanker fashion, is all excited about this because it is the private sector rather than the public doing the work. I guess I can live with that since unlike the right wing ideologues I don't really care who gets credit for stuff like this. I just wonder if Branson would accept $100,000 to send a few people on one-way trips. Tierney might even make my top 700 list.


I'm trying to imagine the conversation between Stephen Hawking and Victoria Principal as they zoom skyward.

By Blogger Joseph, at 9:30 PM  

There was a time, about 25 years ago, when I might have constructed a pretty decent fantasy involving Victoria Principal and Zero Gs. Now I think I would stick to talking to Prof Hawking.

By Blogger Jambo, at 10:21 PM  

Only idiots fall for that "private sector" nonsense. The technology Banson is using was developed using billions in public money. All he's doing is spending capital - the technology was a gift.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:11 PM  

I agree completely. The same is true in many different contexts, not the least of all any use of the internet. I've always had a beef with libertarians and all the "self made man" crap from people who would have gotten nowhere without everything from government built infrastructure to public education to government backed loans.

By Blogger Jambo, at 11:24 AM  

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