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WIRED guide to the commercial flight in space

Morning from December 13, 2018, the Virgin Galactic white nightclub descended on the track in Mojave, California, ready to take off. Cvilio was like a regular passenger plane, a dual-voyage catamaran passing by Richard Branson's owner, who was floating in an airplane jacket on the sidewalk. But WhiteKnightTwo was not any plane: it was hooked between two hulls room the SpaceShipTwo aircraft, set to be the first private ship to regularly take tourists from this planet.

WhiteKnightTwo tapped and got up, getting ready to climb up to 50,000 feet. From that height, the nozzle would free SpaceShipTwo; his two pilots fired engines and amplified the vessel into the universe.

"3 … 2 … 1 …" came the words over the radio.

SpaceShipTwo fell like a smooth stone, free.

"Fire, fire," the controller said.

At command, the flame was ignited by the engine of the trade. Kontrail smoked across the crevices of the mountain as the spaceship roared up and up. Soon fire and fire were stopped: SpaceShipTwo simply floated. Earth's Lights curved across the windows, opposite the black of the rest of the universe. Hanging ornament on the instrument panel, in the form of a snowdrop, was facing the microgravity of the cabin.

"Welcome to the universe," the base said. And with that Virgin Galactic letting their first astronauts, who were not the heroes of the old, but private citizens who sponsored the government and who worked for a private company.

Much of the history of space flights, people have left such promises to governments. Since the Middle Ages, Mercury, Gemini and Apolo have given up to 30-year shuttle program, NASA has dominated American space ventures. But today, the companies that run mighty billionaires – who have earned large sums in other industries and now use them to fulfill starry dreams – are taking a torch, or at least part of the fire.

Virgo The Galacticist, for its part, is stylized as a tourist outfit, and such types of space hope to talk about philosophical elevation – a change of perspective that occurs when people observe the Earth as a real planet in the real space. Other companies want to help establish permanent residences on the Moon and / or Mars, and sometimes talk about destiny and salvation. There are many gestures according to the power of the human spirit and the infallible exploration nature of our species.

But let's not forget, of course, that there is money that can be theoretically made; and the federal government is no longer itself flying astronauts. After closing the space shuttle program in 2011, the US was no longer able to send people to space and since then relied on Russia. But that will change: today, two private companies – Boeing and SpaceX – have fellowships at the International Space Station.

But even before NASA's programs for sending people to the universe began to disappear, business magnates have recognized what they can do if they have their own private missiles. They could transport the goods to the space station for the government's conscious budget. They could launch satellites. They could take tourists to suborbital jackets. They could stimulate industrial infrastructure in the deep universe. Moon and Mars could be inhabited. People could become types that always pervade the universe and have always been, and often travel – or even live long-term – away from Earth. It is exciting: after all, science fiction – the great predictor and creator of the future – has for decades been saying that space is the next (final) limit and we should not just go but live there.

Private space companies take small steps toward long-term, large presence in the universe, and in 2019 has more promises than most years. But deadlines continue to sway: as well as cold fusion, private travel to the universe is constantly behind the corner. Maybe it's part of that lag because of private human journeys in the universe – and especially extended private travel to the universe – is an almost unbeaten business model, and most of these companies make a lot of money in companies that have little to do with people: Often, revenue-generating operations now include closing satellites and accessories not sending people away. But since the most promising plans supported by billboards with big plans – and in a sense targeted to other rich people – science fiction could nevertheless become a space fact.

History of private human space flights

Today, capitalist space jet sets call their New Space industry, though in the early days, thinkers spoke of "alt.space". It could be said that it all started in 1982, when Space Services launched the first privately-funded rocket: the modified Minuteman's rocket, which was bitten by Conestoga I (after the car, got it?). The flight was just a demonstration, which used 40 kilograms of water. But two years later, the US adopted the 1984 Launching Act, which cleansed the ground for more private activities.

People flew to the ship in 2001, when financier Dennis Tito bought a spot on the Russian rocket of Soyuz and took $ 20 million, almost eight days off, to the space station. Spacey adventures, who organized a packed flight, would continue to send six more astro-diletanates to the orbit via the Russian Space Agency.

That same year, some guy named Elon Musk, who will be rich in PayPal sales, has announced a plan called Mars Oasis. With his many money, he wanted to increase public support for the human settlement of the Red Planet, so that public pressure would encourage Congress to designate a mission to Mars. Through the organization he founded under the name Life in Mars, Musk proposed the following private fund to open: Mars's $ 20 million lander, which had a greenhouse that could be filled in Marsaxan soil, which could be launched in 2005.

$ 6.8 billion

Potential value of NASA's contracts with SpaceX and Boeing to take astronaut to and from Space Station.

This, let's see, never happened – partly because of the price launching such a garden of the future was so high. An American rocket would cost $ 65 million (about $ 92 million in 2018), while the reconstructed Russian ICBM would cost $ 10 million. A year later, Musk went to lower the rocket barrier. Moving from the "foundation" to the "corporation," he started with the missile company SpaceX with an explicit end goal of Mars housing.

In the early days, Musk was not the only one who wanted to send people to the universe. Pilot (and then astronaut) Mike Melvill flew SpaceShipOne, which resembled a fever-fired bullet in space in 2004. After this test flight and two subsequent trips, SpaceShipOne won $ 10 million X-Prize. These flights combined two dreams in the New Universe: privately crafted crafts and private astronaut pilots. After the victory, Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites have developed a high-flying technology in SpaceShipTwo. Founded by Virgin in 2009, this cruise ship was intended to send tourists to the universe … for the price of an average home. (After all, why have a home forever when you can go to the room for five minutes?)

3.5 billion dollars

Value of NASA's First SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Agreement (now part of Northrop Grumman) for delivering ISS delivery from 2009 to 2016

Virgin Galactic has always kept its focus close to home and on short but frequent flights that remain suborbital. Mussoe, however, kept his original Marx mission. After launching its first missile on the orbit in 2008, SpaceX received NASA's buses delivery contract at and from the space station, and still relies on the agency's burden. But the startup really got its feet in 2012 and 2013 when it launched a rocket called Skakavac. Though he did not jump high up into the air, he landed back to the launch ramp, from where he could pick up again (as, say, the grasshopper). This recycling capability has paved the way for today's reusable Falcon 9 rockets, which have increased and decreased and helped transform the ethos of missile science into one that can be recycled.

Virgo Galactic

From Virgin Records to Virgin Atlantic Airline to Virgin Mobile, Richard Branson has earned money around the block.

WhiteKnightTwo + SpaceShipTwo

The Beknighted Virgin Galactic plane carries a spacecraft that can translate up to six passengers and two pilots across the space border to experience a few minutes of bumblebee and an incredible look. Richard Branson hopes to go mid this year, and tourists will soon follow him.

The goal of Musk, from the failure of Mars Oasis, has always been to reduce launch costs. Today, SpaceX's Falcon 9 for reusable use cost $ 50-60 million – still a lot, but less than $ 100 million of some competitors. How to get into the universe, thinking goes, should not be the biggest obstacle to faces that could be in the universe. If SpaceX can achieve this, the company can – one day, theoretically – send a number of Shipment Shipment Ships and People Needed to Meet MUSKK "the slogan" MAKE LIFE MULTIPLANETARY ".

But the way to multiplanarry was not always smooth for SpaceX. Her multiracial rockets crashed into the ocean, crashed into the sea, hit the ships, crashed into the ships, fell through the air, fled, exploded in the center, and exploded on the launch pad.

However, the course of the new space has never been smooth, and SpaceX is far from the only company that has experienced falls. Virgin Galactic, for example, faced a tragedy in 2014 when pilot Pete Siebold and Michael Alsbury were in SpaceShipTwo under the WhiteKnight jumper.

Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos, of the glory and wealth of the Amazon, is still largely married to space seekers.

New Shepard

"Blue Origin", a reusable missile, will take crews and cargo on 11-minute suborbital flights, landing as quietly as a feather dyed by the body. The goal is to send the first crew this year.

New Glenn

Blue Origin says it wants this rocket that can be recycled by heavy lifting "building the way to the universe". This launcher is likely to appear in 2021.

Let SpaceShipTwo did not go as planned. SpaceShipTwo has a "feather mechanism" which, when unlocked and enabled, slows down the boat so it can safely land. But Alsbury unlocked him early, and he dragged the boat while the rocket was still fired. Aerodynamic forces broke SpaceShipTwo, killing Alsbury. Siebold parachute, alive, on the ground. Several customers have been canceled. Most of them still want to go into the universe, though the industry has higher risk and lower regulation than commercial flights at lower altitudes.

Meanwhile, another big corporation – Blue Origin – has quietly made its human mission plans. This heavenly venture, funded by the founder of the Amazons Jeff Bezos, started in 2000 – before Musk started with SpaceX, but for years it has remained quite hidden. Then in a test launch in April 2015, a New Shepard rocket came out that could be reused. He successfully placed the capsule but did not land. However, in November, New Shepard did what he needed: he touched back, moving SpaceX to that goal of launching and digging.

Blue origin, like Virgin Galactica, wants to use its small rocket to send suborbital spaceship tourists. And he wants, with bigger rocket missiles, to help ease the permanent colony of the moon. Bezos suggested that heavy industry should come from this planet, in places that are already such, but have mined assets. The first lunar touchdown, he says, could be in 2023, facilitating the Earth, which is largely divided into residential and light industrial spaces.

SpaceX also has big plans for 2023. In September 20, the company announced that in the year 2023 it would send the Japanese magnate Yusaku Maezawu and the artist's poster. NASA also entered into a contract with the company and Boeing to send astronauts to and from the ISS as part of a commercial program of crews, which begins testing people later this year.

However, for all the hype around these wider vision of the company, Virgin Galactic remains the only private company that has actually sent a private individual to the space on a private vehicle.

The Future of Private Space Flight

The way in which these companies see the future, those (humbly, of course) will be those who will normalize the voyage of the universe-whether that journey leads you through the Karman line or to another heavenly body. Spacecraft will translate passengers and experiments to suborbital sites, touching for less time than needed to watch The real thing, The Rockets will launch and land and re-launch, dispatch satellites and transfer physical and biological loads to an industrial base in the Moon or Marseilles homeland, where settlers will ensure the existence of a species even if there is a therapist (nuclear, climate) on the land company. Homo sapiens will show his destiny, show himself to be a brave pioneer who always knew he was. And an exciting idea is that we do not have to be stuck in a cosmic spot forever!

But all these companies are companies, not philanthropic visions. Is life a compulsory space and a seriously interplanetary probable financial perspective? And, more importantly, is this desirable?

Let's start with the low-key suborbital space tourism, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, which you would like to offer. Some economists see this as fairly feasible: if we know one thing about the world, that part of the population will always have too much money and spend it on the cold things that the plebiscites are unavailable. However, if such flights become routine, their price could be reduced, and space tourism could follow the path of the commercial aviation industry, which was once rich and is now home to Spirit Airlines. Some also speculate that longer orbital flights – and sleeping in spacious six-star hotels (additional star for the spatial part) could follow.

After there is a market for space hotels, there may be more infrastructure. And if you're building something for space, it may be easier and cheaper to build it in space, with materials from the universe instead of spending billions to launch all the necessary materials. Perhaps miners and manufacturers could establish a protocol, which could cause some people to live there permanently.

Or not. Who knows? I can not see the future, neither can you, nor these billionaires.

But with long journeys or permanent residences the problems are more complicated than whether money can be made or it is possible to build a sweet town square of moonlight dust. The most complicated part of the human space research will always be the human being.

We weak creatures evolved in the environment this one planet. Mutations and adjustments have emerged to make us a unique fit for life here – and so unique not suitable for life in the universe or in Valles Marineris. Too cold or too hot; no breathing air; you can not eat potatoes grown in their own shit until the end of their unnatural life. Your personal microbes can affect everything from digestion to immunity to mood, in ways not yet understood by scientists, and even though they do not understand how the space affects the microbe, it will probably not be the same if you live on an alien crater that you would be in your apartment.

In addition, in lower gravity your muscles decrease. The fluids in you are miraculously assembled. Drugs do not always work as expected. The shape of your brain is changing. Your mind becomes foggy. The back of your eyeballs are flattened. And there is radiation that can exacerbate tissue, cause cardiovascular disease, mess with your nervous system, give you cancer, or just cause radiation sickness until you die. If your body is raised, you can still lose it on other crew members, you will come to planetsick, and safe on your journey and during your boredom and effort, follow him.

There may be a technological future in which we can alleviate all of these effects. After all, many things that were once unimaginable – from vaccine to quantum mechanics – are now pretty well understood. But billionaires mostly do not deal with people's problems: when they talk about space cities, they leave out the details – and their money goes to physics rather than biology.

They also do not talk so much about the cost or how to make up for it. But Blue Origin and SpaceX hope to collaborate with NASA (ie, use federal money) for their far-off countries, making this special private space flight more public-Private partnership. Both have already acquired millions of contracts with NASA and the Ministry of Defense for projects in the near future, such as the launch of national security satellites and the development of more infrastructure for that. Virgin, in the meantime, has a Virgin Orbit division that will send small satellites, and SpaceX wants to create its own giant constellation for providing global Internet coverage. And at least in the foreseeable future, it is likely that their revenues will continue to flow from satellite rather than off-world infrastructure. In that sense, although they are new, they are just conventional state contractors.


Elon Musk made his first fortune on PayPal.

Falcon 9 + Zmaj

SpaceX will also take astronauts and accessories to NASA's International Space Station, and after its voyage, the Falcon will be discharged while the Dragon capsule will collapse. Bonus: The company can boast that passengers can set an internal temperature of 65 to 80 degrees Celsius. His first test with the crew could be in mid 2019.

Super Heavy + Starship

Once called BFR (Big Falcon Rocket or Big Fucking Rocket, depending on who you are talking to), this SpaceX ship and its human capsule should take 100 people and 150 tons of cargo on the Red Planet. Musk discovered a smaller, suborbital prototype in January, and its glossy silver side and vintage sci-fi looks like the 50th-century dinner dreamed of being a rocket. His first test should be held sometime this year.

So, if the money is near, why look away from the Earth's orbit? Why not keep an inbound job sending satellite or enabling communication? Yes, yes, human spirit. All right, surely, survival. Both of the noble, energizing goals. But supporters may also be interested in creating space states with an international water type, full of people who could afford a trip (or maybe workers who are workers who will work in exchange for a map). Perhaps the celestial population will unite into utopian society, liberated from the disadvantages we have made of this planet. People could start from scratch somewhere else, scratch something new and better on the alien ground of the taboo race. Or, as in Earth, history could be repeated, and human luggage would be the heaviest burden on colonial ships. Anyway, wherever you go, you're there.

Perhaps we would be better off if we stayed at home and watched our problems straight in the eye. This is the conclusion of the author of science fiction Gary Westfahl in an essay titled "The Case Against the Universe". Westfahl does not think innovation is happening when you switch your environment and escape from your difficulties, rather than holding yourself and dealing with the situation you have created.

United Launch Alliance and Boeing

There are no billionaires here. Only the military-industrial complex joins forces with itself. In the past 15 years this missile has had a 100 percent success rate.

Atlas V + Starliner

The Atlas V rocket, produced by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, will join Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule to send astronauts and scientific experiments on the ISS. Starliner can fly 10 times as long as it gets a six-month refractory period – for renewal and testing – between each trip. His first test with the crew could be in mid 2019.

In addition, most Americans do not think that human travel in the universe is a big gain at all, at least not with their money. According to the Pew 2018 poll, more than 60 percent of people say NASA's top priorities should be to track climate and track asteroids destroying Earth. Only 18 and 13 percent think the same about a human journey to Mars or month. People, in other words, are more interested in caring this one planet, and preserve life on it, rather than creating another world for life.

But maybe that does not matter: history is full of billionaires who do what they want, and is full of social reversals and reversals that dictate their direction. Additionally, if even a fraction of the US population would approach a long-term space mission, their spacecraft would still carry the largest alien site ever to travel to the Sun's system. Even if it was not an oasis, or a utopia, it would still be a huge leap.

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Last update January 30, 2019

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