Entrepreneurs in Spaaaaace!


The first manned commercial space flight busted the final frontier today, making it a likely candidate to win the $10 million X Prize. Ron Bailey wrote about private forays into the great black yonder for our June issue. I like to think the first private astronauts were blasting this [MP3] on their way up.

NEXT: Overclock Your Brain

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  1. All I have to say is WOOOHOOO!

  2. It's nice to have something to celebrate!

  3. Heh heh... excellent choice in music and TV shows Julian! "Firefly" rocked. Curse FOX TV and their "sudden but inevitable betrayal when they cancelled it after doing just about everything possible to kill it (e.g. not advertising it, mixing up the episode order, premiering it during the World Series, sticking it in the Friday night "kiss of death" slot, etc.). At least we're getting a movie next year.

    As for SpaceShip One, I was able to watch the takeoff from the run way, but had to head to work right after that. I've been following it as much as I could all morning. I can't wait to get home and watch it on the news or over streaming video. Contgrats to Burt, Peter, Michael, and everyone at Scaled Composites! Thanks to you, I just might get to go into space by the end of my lifetime!

  4. I'm a little bit partial to "Magic Carpet Ride", or perhaps "Countdown" from Rush.

    Now THAT is a kick-ass song to listen to while blasting off in an experimental spacecraft for the first time.

  5. "The colors were pretty staggering from up there,"

    "It was amazing, these M&Ms were going around everywhere,"

    Great. Rich guy spends $20 million to light up an expensive bottle rocket and demo long ago discovered weightlessness.

    Investors anyone?

  6. Wow! Wait'll I tell the Captain we've been spelling "Zephram Cochrane"'s name wrong all this time!

  7. I look forward to the day when zero-gravity research stations are easily accessible to visiting scientists without having to go through the impossibly exacting astronaut selection process. I understand why they're so selective as long as launch vehicles are so rare and expensive, but I look forward to a time of (comparatively) cheap and abundant launch vehicles.

    BTW, once zero gravity is accessible to private ventures, how long before the first zero gravity porn is filmed? Then again, I've heard stories (God only knows if they're true) that the Russians have been real pioneers in the field of zero-gravity sex, so maybe such a film already exists 🙂

  8. Zephram: A piece of advice, if you met some balding HU-man with a French name and a British accent who claims to be from the 24th century, don't listen to his BS about "in the future we no longer need material poscessions." Sell your warp drive for as much gold-pressed latinum as you can, purchase a few wives, and sit back and let the profits come in.

    Oh, and don't listen to those Vulcan's either. Boring people, the whole lot of them...

  9. Whoops, make that "possessions." Blasted universal translator must be malfunctioning.

  10. Thoreau:

    Ahhh yes, the "Three Dolphin Dance."


  11. "I'm a little bit partial to "Magic Carpet Ride", or perhaps "Countdown" from Rush."

    "Countdown" happens to be one of my most favorite songs ever. As far as I know, Rush has never played it live, though. I've been lucky to hear two such songs on their last two tours that get infrequent live play, but alas, no "Countdown" yet.

    "Magic Carpet Ride" was already done in that one ST:TNG movie.

  12. Then there is also a little Space Truckin...

  13. Space porn?

    I will date the girl from Venus,
    Flowers die and so will I,
    Yes, I will kiss the girl from Venus,
    I'm so brave, I'm so brave,
    I'll be her love slave.

    Let's get those missiles ready to DESTROY THE UNIVERSE!

  14. Leave it to the private sector to do things more efficiently. It often takes those government astronauts several days to come back down!

  15. Yes! Congrats to Space DEV!

    From Ron's article:

    It turns out that federal regulations are stronger than gravity in holding back the commercial development of space launches.

    When the machinations of free enterprise motivate space exploration I believe that it will yield surprising and even unimaginable progress. Just look at the results of the forays of capitalism into the other frontiers of human kind.

    Julian, the lyrics of that tune were great but the music was a little slow. Any other suggestions?

  16. No fair! I'm the guy who sang that song!

    There has been a spaceship sighted,
    Flying high above the sky,
    Experts declare there's one among us--

    Yes I will kiss the girl from Venus,
    Flowers die and so will I,
    Yes I will kiss the girl from Venus--

    No fair of John to steal my lines!

  17. hasn't zero gravity porn already been achieved using one of them vomit comet type planes? someone was telling me about this the other day, but i was drunk and having a hard time understanding why floating while inside a plane would be anything but fucking terrifying.

  18. I like to think that a thousand years from now (should our species survive that long), that today's flight will be remembered and universally celebrated as the first major step toward the democratization of space travel.

    Then again I like to think a lot of things...

  19. Whew, the geekdom came out in force for this one. Speaking of which, and I seem to be the only one so far: anyone else think the carrier plane (the White Knight) looks kinda like a Drazi Sunhawk?

    Hell no way I'm going to google it at work, but I vaguely recall getting spammed re: a vomit comet film from NASDAQ:PRVT titled like "Uranus Project" or "Adventure" or whatever

  20. Apparently, after he landed, Melvill held up a sign that said:

    "SpaceShip One, Government Zero"

    If it's true, I'd love to get a photo of that.

  21. sittin up here watchin
    all the lights blink down below
    the earth is turnin' why does it go so slow
    thinkin' about the girl i left behind
    houston can you hear me or have i lost my mind?
    why me?
    why me?

    i was waitin on the pad all systems were go
    the man up in the tower was enjoyin the show
    then i got this feelin that i never had before
    hey let me out of here - what am i here for
    why me?
    why me?

    there must be a thousand other guys
    must be some other way to look good in your eyes
    why am i out here? what do they see in me?
    must be one thousand other places to be
    why me?

    the last man to leave here
    was never heard from again
    he wont be back this way til 2010
    now i'm riding on a fountain of fire
    with my back to the earth i go higher and higher
    why me?
    why me?

    there must be a thousand other guys
    must be some other way to look good in your eyes
    why am i out here? what do they see in me?
    must be one thousand other places to be
    why me?
    why me?

    take anyone but me

    --Tony Carey
    Planet P Project

  22. Firefly rocks, and so does the theme song. "I don't care, I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me."

    As for zero-G sex, I'm betting the reality ain't so great. Good sex requires leverage, you see.

  23. Glen, yeah and I'm sure that men would get a quick education in Newton's Third Law of Motion as they climax. Messy.

  24. The real victory for private enterprise isn't that that got into space without goverment help. It's that private spacecraft look way cooler than goverment ones.

  25. RE Cochrane: He may be more amenable to the Firefly theme than he or we know. After all, doesn't he end up with a "companion" of sorts? (Sorry if I have put you into some kind of causal timeloop by that revelation, ZC. I am not a signatory to the temporal prime directive.)

    RE "SpaceShipOne, Government Zero," check out http://blog.badnarik.org/ for an interesting angle on that event.

    RE Firefly/Serenity: Fox's loss is Universal's gain, but as twisted as Hollywood is, I'm sure that Universal's gain is Fox's gain also. My head hurts to think about it: Hollywood inter-studio deals are more convoluted than time-travel paradoxes. Maybe I'll just kick back with a bottle of Mudders Milk and wait for April 22, 2005, when Serenity flies again. Oh yeah!

  26. A couple of corrections:

    1. Zero gravity has been accessible to private ventures for a long time. The notable thing about this mission was not getting to zero-g privately but the fact that the mission was manned while this was accomplished.

    2. The company responsible for this achievement is Scaled Composites- not SpaceDev. SpaceDev is a government whore who also does a minority of its business with private enterprise. SpaceDev provided just the hybrid rocket motor used on the mission.

  27. And I just read the entry in Badnarik's blog. It is a bit misleading. Libertarians tend to hold up government as the main stumbling block to private innovation. However, what was the government hurdle in this case that was solved by government getting out of the way? Can anyone answer that?

    As it turns out, the private suborbital industry is- unintuitively- generally clamoring for MORE government regulation. It turns out that many investors are shy about putting their money into this industry BECAUSE government is not highly involved. First, they have an image of space as something only the government can do. Second, they fear that without some regulations in place giving some idea of what the government will do to the industry, they have no idea what future regulatory direction the government will take raising concerns that they could be regulated out of business in the future.

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