(Paul Jacob) – It seems like only yesterday that Burt Rutan flew SpaceShip One into near-orbit and received the Ansari X-Prize for piloting the first manned private craft into space.
But it’s been five years.
Things have happened in the meantime. To be specific, SpaceShip Two, just unveiled.
It’s a much larger ship than the original, capable of carrying six passengers as well as two pilots. It has more windows. I like windows.
A year or so ago the company, Virgin Galactic, had shown off their White Knight Two, a twin-fuselage aircraft designed to ferry SpaceShip Two high into the atmosphere.
There’s still a lot of work to be done before rich people can actually trek up into space. Yes, space tourism is a few years away. But it’s coming, and it’s important.
As long as space is a government-subsidized and -organized industry, it will suffer from the usual problems associated with bureaucracies and politics.
But let’s give NASA its due: Those scientists and engineers took the risks, squelching the screechings of many folks who, these days, don’t approve of burning any kind of fuel, really, or risking anyone’s life. Think of the lawsuits that would have happened — the OSHA violations, for instance — had private industry been allowed to start this!
Now, it’s high time for private enterprise to take over. To make space flight rational. And fun, again.
(Mr. Jacob is president of Citizens in Charge Foundation)