As NASA Sleeps


As NASA begins its countdown to (yawn) showing that it can once again put the shuttle into space for who knows what reason and god knows what real cost, cozy up for a chat with space entrepreneur Burt Rutan, winner of the Ansari X prize for successfully putting a reusable craft in suborbital flight and the second coming of the Wright Brothers, Eddie Rickenbacker, and Elvis Presley all wrapped up in one. Reason caught up with him earlier this year and the Q&A with him is still well worth reading. A snippet:

"For decades informed adults have taken treks to the top of Everest, even though more than 10 percent of those who've reached the summit have died on the mountain.

"Now I don't object to that. I think that's fine. There should be freedoms. That people know that they have a one in 10 chance of dying by doing this and they still want to do it anyway, I'm the first one to say, hey, let them. However, I don't feel that that's the right thing to develop and sustain [for] a private space flight industry. Our goals are much more aggressive than that. Our goals are to have the same level of safety that the early airliners enjoyed, and a lot of people don't realize, but those early airliners 1927, 28, 29, 1930, 31, and so on, those were the first regularly scheduled commercial airliners. They were dangerous as hell compared to airlines today, however they were a hundred times safer than all of manned space flight. Not 10 times, 100 times safer."

Whole thing here.