Unqualified Friday Opinions: Space travel for the rich and famous
On October 17th, Virgin Galactic opened the world’s first commercial spaceport in New Mexico. This is a big deal and a historic event, even if VG goes nowhere. Richard Branson is no dummy, but he’s also aware that not everything he tries pans out. His willingness to take big calculated risks has obviously been working just fine for him, so no matter what the future holds for VG or this first spaceport, he has done something that nobody else has done before and has already succeeded in that way. Of course, the plan is, I’m sure, to make more billions of dollars.To get the ball rolling, they already have a contract with NASA, who has purchased two flights for $4.5 million.
It might seem odd that NASA is hiring a private company for research missions, but there’s no question it will make their budgeting much easier and may even allow for more missions and more science to happen that might not have otherwise. It’s not like congress is giving them more money for anything and getting a ride from VG is comparatively cheap.
Of course the point of this was to sell private space flights for people who are not astronauts. At $200,000 per seat, 150 trips are sold and there are over 400 reservations already. As soon as some wealthy guy or gal writes an article in The Robb Report about how their space trip was the greatest thing they’ve ever done with $200K, I’m sure the line will be out the door, so to speak.
This is the first of what will surely be many such spaceports. There was a time when regular aircraft flight was not for the common man and look how that’s changed. In no time at all we’ll be flying half way around the world in a few hours for not much more than we pay for our current airliner fares, relatively speaking. Of course, by then Richard Branson will probably be an immortal cyborg and have a luxury hotel on the moon. You got to walk before you run though.