Brittle Skillet

Sparks of passion and items of interest.

Lunacy or Luna See? Virgin Galactic Mothership Takes Off

with 3 comments

Are you a speed junky? How would you like to travel three times the speed of sound? If Richard Branson’s vision for Virgin Galactic succeeds, you can realistically add it to your list of 100 things to do before you die.

Since 2005, Virgin Galactic has been selling tickets for a true space ride at approximately US$200,000.00 each. The venture’s longer-term intention is to reduce the price of a ticket as quickly as possible, to a price as low as possible, ultimately making space travel available to all.

Why is Virgin the company to bring this experience down to earth? According to the Virgin Galactic website, it’s a natural win given “Virgin’s vast experience in aviation, adventure, luxury travel and cutting-edge design combined with unique technology.”

Historically, Branson and his Virgin ventures have joined the ranks of environmental causes in a significant way with the likes of the Virgin Earth Challenge and the Virgin Green Fund. Appearing as big proponents of alternative energy and highly fuel-efficient aircraft and trains, what is their real agenda?

In Branson’s own words: “Virgin Galactic is investing in a space access system that is radically different from what’s gone before and many times more environmentally friendly. This, and the future technology that it inspires, will allow man to continue to reap space related environmental benefits without making an unacceptable contribution to the environmental problem.”

One can hope he’s going to be true to his words. In particular, how do you reconcile the amount of spent fuel hurled into the atmosphere so my neighbor can have a look around in space just for fun? You might argue that this is not so different from the cross-country summer vacation trek that many families take each year. However, the amount of fuel spent on one space flight makes the fuel needed for the family excursion look like a mere splash.

Perhaps you should get your memorial or logo etched on the Moon sooner rather than later. It seems that there will, after all, be orbiters able to view your lunar thumbprint within the next few years. Of course, it may well be the same folks orbiting as buying the etchings. In my mind, they’ll be the only ones affording either caper.

Who knows? Perhaps there’s a company selling the naming rights to a future space hotel too. Just imagine: the T-Mobile Hotel Intergalactic next to the Microsoft Spacewalk Conference Center.

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.


Written by Julie Pierce

August 5, 2009 at 6:21 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Very interesting article. Branson is a visionary. I hope that in our lifetime space travel becomes affordable for most people. How cool! I have no doubt that they will have resort hotels on the moon in the next 100 years. Hopefully, they’ll have outdoor basketball courts. Can you imagine the amazing, Michael Jordan like dunks anyone can do in gravity that is 1/6 of the Earth’s. Seriously, even though it seems like a giant waste of fuel to do this, good always seems to come out of advancing technology and exploration.

  2. I would like to see space travel become more affordable and be used for more than just providing super-rich people with luxury holidays.

    For example, perhaps it could enable food and medical supplies to be transferred from one part of the world to another more quickly.

    Marcia Space

    August 6, 2009 at 5:07 am

  3. Branson is a true visionary and the sky is not his limit. My favorite vision of his (and Peter Gabriel’s) was the idea of gathering elder world leaders to bring about global understanding and peace. They are called The Elders and were ultimately brought together by Nelson Mandela. Here is the website: Perhaps we will need Virgin Galactic some day if we outgrow our planet, or worse destroy it.

    Nancy Doe

    August 11, 2009 at 9:50 am

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