(Private Enterprise in) America, Fuck Yeah!

Yesterday marked another milestone in space exploration as Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo made its first solo flight.  The flight did not leave the atmosphere and lasted on 25 minutes, but Virgin Galactic is now one step closer to making space tourism a reality, and it comes at at time when NASA is going down the shitter.

Virgin Galactic is expected to launch its first commercial flight next year.

NASA is expecting to not have a space flight program at that time.

When SpaceShipOne was launched in 2004 it made two suborbital flights within a period of about 10 days.  From conception to its second landing, it is estimated to have cost Virgin Galactic only about $25 million.  By comparison, the latest Space Shuttle, even with the vast majority of R&D taken care of by the previous models, cost us $1.7 billion, and that doesn’t include the costs of astronaut training, mission control, rocket fuel, or the (non-recyclable) external tank.

Granted, the ships are extremely different.  SpaceShipOne carries 3 people into a short suborbital flight; the Space Shuttle carries massive payloads into orbit.  It’s the difference between a Kawasaki Ninja and a Mack Truck.  But still, when you consider how much production costs decrease when you mass produce a vehicle, we could probably get 100  SpaceShipOnes and launch them 100 times each for the cost of building 1 Space Shuttle and allowing it to sit in a warehouse.

Also, SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo are a whole helluva lot more sexy and exciting than NASA’s Winged Brick.

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7 Responses to “(Private Enterprise in) America, Fuck Yeah!”

  1. thenambypamby Says:

    Clearly your statements are anti-American. You will be visited by the IRS shortly and dealt with severely.

    Everyone knows that the Government is the only manner in which inspiration and advancement can and should occur.

  2. bl1y Says:

    My mother defends the incredibly high cost of NASA (well, used to be high, now it’s basically 0 because the government didn’t pass a budget) by saying that stuff like this probably used a ton of research from NASA’s space flight program.

    Yeah, a ship that launches horizontally from 50,000 ft and re-enters the atmosphere without the need for computer guided trajectory or heat shields is totally based on NASA’s space flight programs.

    NASA spends more money tracking the expenditures of private contractors than Virgin Galactic spends building spaceships. And yet, in a couple months the US will not have a space flight program because we’re retiring the last shuttle. We’re going to be riding with Russia for a while. We don’t even have a replacement in the works since Ares/Constellation got gutted.

    And boy oh boy, you can’t bring up Russia around here. Why is Russia still able to use the Soyuz while we’re on our four different space flight program (Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle, for those of you wondering), and how are they able to do is cheaper and better than us?

    If you ask anyone who works for NASA, the answer is because we have very high safety standards that drive up the costs. If you mention that Space Shuttle has had more fatalities than any other program (lost two full crews of 7 on Challenger and Columbia), and all of those deaths occurred after the last Soviet death, they will, I shit you not, say that the Russian government covers up their space disasters. Right, because there aren’t 100 different news organizations internationally that watch this type of stuff, and they certainly don’t communicate with NASA, or China, or Japan, or India or any other country that launches stuff into space, and Russia most definitely did not hold huge parades and give the last 3 people who died in a space disaster a bigass state funeral and hold them up as national heroes. None of that.

    Okay…okay…breath BL1Y, breath…

    Getting back to the substance of your comment, Virgin Galactic is owned by Richard Branson, a freaking British knight. And fuck the IRS, I don’t even have any money to take anyways.

  3. BL2Y (no relation) Says:

    “Okay…okay…breath BL1Y, breath…”

    I think you meant “Okay…okay…breathE BL1Y, breathE…”

  4. bl1y Says:

    I always forget which is which. Now I’m going to go take a nice, calm relaxing bathe.

  5. chris Says:

    So, a few things.

    First, NASA still has funding because Congress generally passes Continuing Resolutions so that the government dosen’t implode. Therefore NASA will receive funding at the level set in the previous fiscal year.

    Second, Virgin Galactic actually spends a hell of a lot of money on its ships. They spent way, way more than they won with the Ansari X Prize. This is because Virgin actually funnels money into Scaled Composites, the company that actually built the space planes.

    Thirdly, while it’s true NASA wastes a lot of money on a lot of things they do some amazing work. Yes I’ll be glad along with the rest of the private space industry to see the absurd jobs program that is the Space Shuttle retire. But wait, they’ve promised not to cut jobs drastically which is why so few people were let go and we had a whole lot of fun on useless rockets recently.

    Keep your eye on the horizon. There are a few other serious companies renting hangar space right next to Scaled Composites and VG down in Mojave. You’ll see plenty of actually cheap, sexy spaceships soon.

  6. bl1y Says:

    Actually, the Ares/Constellation program is going to lose funding. The continuing resolution will tell NASA to go ahead with its old budget, but that budget had already cut out Ares.

  7. Aline Says:

    I don’t understand all of this military goop. I want a job, though.

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