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Monday, September 29, 2008

Private Space Flight - Beam Me Up Scotty

Private Space flight has just become a reality. It may even save NASA the embarrassment of our astronauts hitching rides on Russian (or Chinese) space vehicles during the 5 year gap between shutting down the shuttle in 2010 and the launch of its replacement in 2015. Who wants to hear "Welcome aboard Comrades! We accept only Rubles!"

SpaceX, a private company financed by a billionaire who founded PayPal, has successfully put a payload into Orbit. This is GREAT. It is so American.

Entrepreneurs in space is a good thing. Space flight should not be the exclusive domain of governments. Government development programs take too long and cost too much. They depend on funding that is often erratic and unpredictable.

Getting private companies involved will increase access to space and cut the costs of putting payloads (and people) in orbit -- and beyond. It opens the door to space manufacturing, tourism and cheaper transport of satellites that we depend on for weather information, communication, etc. Can a lunar hotel (or hot dog stand) be far away?

Perhaps the 2001 Space Odyssey movie which had the main character taking a "Pan Am" flight to the moon is possible in our lifetime. But instead of Pan Am, the company who does it may be called "SpaceX" -- and/or "SpaceShipThree" (the British Richard Branson's company).

That could give investors who lost their shirts on Wall Street higher ground to jump from. The Dow lost over 777 points today ("Heck of a job!")

Beam me up Scotty!

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