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View Full Version : How long until space travel is feasible for the average person?



Govtcheez
09-27-2004, 10:53 AM
http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/09/27/branson.space/index.html

The gist of the article is, by 2008, Virgin plans to have a commercial space flight service. $200K will get you 3 days of flight training and a 2-3 hour flight into space, featuring a few minutes of actual weightlessness.

Sounds cool, but the price tag is obviously out of the range of 99% of the people out there. My question is, how long until we see this being an almost commonplace thing? Flying from earth to the Space Mall to pick up the latest CD by the Venusians? Maybe not even that advanced; how long do you think it'll be until people can fly commercial spacecraft for less than the price of a house? Is this a step in the right direction?

Also, let's talk about the space elevator, because that's awesome.

Brian
09-27-2004, 11:01 AM
Never. It's too expensive, and there is nowhere to go.

Govtcheez
09-27-2004, 11:13 AM
You don't think the price'll ever come down?

anonytmouse
09-27-2004, 12:03 PM
You can experience zero-gravity now (http://www.nogravity.com/) (News Story (http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=scienceNews&storyID=6235897))

You can (or could) see the curve of the earth from a concorde.

Is combining the two experiences for ten times the cost worth it? Maybe people will go for the bragging rights.

Affordable orbital(or beyond) space flight is still many years off. (http://www.newscientist.com/opinion/opletters.jsp?id=ns245411)

sean
09-27-2004, 03:35 PM
Never. It's too expensive, and there is nowhere to go.

A lot of people would've said the same thing when they first heard about commercial aviation. Although I do agree that right now there's nowhere to go, I don't think it'll be that way forever. Right now it would just be a cool experience, but once the technology gets a little further along and it's feasible to go to the moon, then you're really going somewhere.

I'd give it about ten years before someone starts making serious efforts to bring the price down, but I'd say at least 15 before a lot of us will know someone who's gone.

adrianxw
09-28-2004, 01:54 AM
Branson is toting a price of around 100,000 for a sub orbital hop. That is well within the budget of a great many wealthy people, and I expect, assuming there are no disasters along the way, that there will be good business to be had there.

Rob Bigelow is launching the "son of" the X-Prize shortly, for the private development of orbital vehicles with on orbit docking facilities. His inflatable modules could be used to build orbiting hotels. There may not be anywhere to go now, but there will be, and I'd go tomorrow if I could aford it just for the view.

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=979

The space elevator is conceptually okay, but the materials and techniques required to build such a structure have pipe dream status at the moment.

Magos
09-28-2004, 04:23 AM
$200K

lol, read that as 200$ first. wtf, 200$ too much for a trip into (outto?) space? :D

ober
09-28-2004, 06:24 AM
I'm building my own space elevator in my backyard. I plan to finish it by Q3 of 2009. I'm charging $49.99 for a one way trip. At the top is a packet of salt water taffy for each to enjoy.

And the price will come down when something gets built on the moon.

Govtcheez
09-28-2004, 06:36 AM
One packet, or one apiece? Because I'm not licking taffy some dirty Russian might have touched.

ober
09-28-2004, 06:40 AM
One packet. There are 4.5 pieces in the packet. If I get more people, I'll produce more taffy. And yes, you have to share. Don't be last... GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!

Brian
09-28-2004, 06:58 AM
A lot of people would've said the same thing when they first heard about commercial aviation. Although I do agree that right now there's nowhere to go, I don't think it'll be that way forever. Right now it would just be a cool experience, but once the technology gets a little further along and it's feasible to go to the moon, then you're really going somewhere.

I'd give it about ten years before someone starts making serious efforts to bring the price down, but I'd say at least 15 before a lot of us will know someone who's gone.

yeh but at least there is a point to aviation, faster transport.

Govtcheez
09-29-2004, 09:49 AM
Just thought I'd put this here.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/09/29/spaceshipone.attempt.cnn/index.html

One more flight and they've got the X-Prize!

adrianxw
09-29-2004, 09:52 AM
I tried to watch it but Ansari's servers were totally swamped. Just the odd snippets coming through.

Certiainly not an "as planned" ascent, but probably good enough. Still some work to do there. It certainly didn't roll like that on the last flight.

Govtcheez
09-29-2004, 10:03 AM
Both the aerodynamic changes and increased engine size could have accounted for that. I'm sure Rutan's smart enough to figure that out by the tiem they make the second flight.

Is it true that he's never lost a test pilot?

adrianxw
09-29-2004, 01:11 PM
You'd have thought that the uprated engine would have made the ship pitch rather then roll, but still, I'm sure he'll fix it. As it was, the report I read said Mike shut down the engine well early anyway, and they still got the height. I wonder if the mods they made were really necessary? It certainly didn't roll like that on the last flight, with the older engine - still made it, but I don't know how much ballast they were carrying that time.

sean
09-29-2004, 01:29 PM
Is it true that he's never lost a test pilot?

I believe so. They haven't actually had a huge amount of test pilots, but considering how most of the stuff they make is completely experimental, that's still a pretty good record.

ZakkWylde969
09-29-2004, 02:29 PM
http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/09/27/branson.space/index.html

The gist of the article is, by 2008, Virgin plans to have a commercial space flight service. $200K will get you 3 days of flight training and a 2-3 hour flight into space, featuring a few minutes of actual weightlessness.

Sounds cool, but the price tag is obviously out of the range of 99% of the people out there. My question is, how long until we see this being an almost commonplace thing? Flying from earth to the Space Mall to pick up the latest CD by the Venusians? Maybe not even that advanced; how long do you think it'll be until people can fly commercial spacecraft for less than the price of a house? Is this a step in the right direction?

Also, let's talk about the space elevator, because that's awesome.


I think it'll happen eventually. It won't be for a LONG time though. But who knows, technology seems to rise exponentially as of late. I'd say I'm going to be my parents age before that's something I might even be able to think about. I doubt we will ever have a cd made by Venusians though, since everyone knows they don't make cds, they make movies. Space flight in my opinion is a cool thing, but I think there is only so much to come from it.

Unless by some wild chance intelligent life finds us, what all is there to do with a bunch of lifeless planets? It's worth expanding our technology, but I think humans will always be centered on Earth.

A space elevator is actually an unpractical alternative to commercial space flight, if you are talking about a giant elevator into space. We would first need to discover a new alloy that is light enough to not crush through the ground due to weight, but be able to hold itself up. Then we would have to have one hell of an engineering crew to design something that can handle the weight, size, weather, oxygen changes, pressure differences, et cetera.

Plus, would something of that magnitude be maintainable? Skyscrapers are relatively new, cost bundles, and take tons of time and man power to build. How would we make the upper areas that are really low oxygen enviroments, and I'd also assume the tempatures would be insane. Having people actually up there seems improbable.

exluddite
09-29-2004, 02:45 PM
Maybe the elevators could go up to a half way point:

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5025388/

sean
09-29-2004, 02:49 PM
A space elevator is actually an unpractical alternative to commercial space flight, if you are talking about a giant elevator into space. We would first need to discover a new alloy that is light enough to not crush through the ground due to weight, but be able to hold itself up. Then we would have to have one hell of an engineering crew to design something that can handle the weight, size, weather, oxygen changes, pressure differences, et cetera.

There was an interesting article in Popular Science a couple of months ago about this very cocept. It solved most of those problems by having a cable (several yards thick and constatly strengthened by crawlers laying down new cable) attached to an end-stating out in space, where the centrifugal force of the Earth's rotation would be greater than the centripetal force that you are referring to (gravity). It would take some good engineering, but it's not as silly as you might think.

R!ghtw!ng3r
10-03-2004, 07:35 PM
I think in 20 years we will have hotels in space and ships will take us there to float around for a week and then we can come back home. It will most likely be expensive but all things are expensive at first and gradually get cheaper.

exluddite
10-03-2004, 10:18 PM
"We are living in the future
I'll tell you how I know
I read it in the paper
Fifteen years ago
We're all driving rocket ships
And talking with our minds..."

Gotta love John Prine.

adrianxw
10-04-2004, 02:07 AM
SpaceShipOne is go for the second X-Prize flight today.

adrianxw
10-04-2004, 09:13 AM
Unofficial 368,000 feet!

novacain
10-04-2004, 10:07 AM
Some material for a cable to space?

Has to be BioSteel Spider Silk! Made from a goat near you

"It is stronger than steel by weight, more elastic than nylon (it can stretch to almost twice its original length without breaking), and is both lighter and stronger than kevlar.
..... It is estimated that a strand of spider silk the thickness of a pencil can stop a Boeing 747 airplane."

http://www.carleton.ca/catalyst/2003/s2.html

And what about the cannon to shoot equipment into space?

http://www-istp.gsfc.nasa.gov/stargaze/SSHARP.htm

ober
10-04-2004, 11:10 AM
That article on the spider silk is absolutely fascinating.

Govtcheez
10-04-2004, 11:27 AM
SpaceShipOne's thrust was provided by two innocuous substances that, when mixed together, are explosive: nitrous oxide and rubber.

A fuel tank about six feet in diameter at the center of the craft holds liquid nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. A hollow tube leading from the tank to the engine nozzle is filled with solid rubber. The combustive combination produces thousands of pounds of thrust, although exact amount remains secret.

Holy crap, that's amazing!

itld
10-05-2004, 09:41 PM
Howdy,
I heard an interview with a NASA official. He said the person that will walk on mars is probably in second grade right now.

M.R.

Govtcheez
10-06-2004, 05:32 AM
We must find him! He is the chosen one!

adrianxw
10-10-2004, 10:51 AM
Looks like the legislators are starting to move in...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6201543/

sean
10-10-2004, 03:23 PM
We must find him! He is the chosen one!

The prophecy states he will have reddish-brown mars-shaped birth marks all over his face.