Space

Cheap Tickets to Space, Coming Soon

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yup. pretty phallic.

In Popular Mechanics, space journo and consultant Rand Simberg—who wrote about the future of NASA in the era of private spaceflight in last month's print magazine—explains some of the nifty technical details he picked up from entrepreneur Elon Musk about SpaceX's reusable rockets and spacecraft.

But perhaps of greater interest to the less technically inclined spaceophiles among us, Simberg wraps up the piece like this:

Last week, the company announced the successful test of its new SuperDraco rocket engines, which will power the launch–abort system for the Dragon, making it safer for human occupation, and also act as the landing engines. The idea is that Dragon will land vertically on the pad, like the Falcon rocket components, as opposed to landing in the water with parachutes. 

So what does that mean for ticket prices in the future? Musk tells us that with daily flights, the cost will run about $100 per pound. For the average male, that means about 20,000 bucks. Start saving your money. 

In other words, none of the many players in the private space industry have actually taken paying customers off the surface of the Earth yet, but ticket prices are already experiencing some serious downward pressure. Virgin Galactic's $200,000 price tag is already starting to sound downright extravagant in the face of Simberg's back-of-the-envelope math. And the $63 million we're playing to the Russians to ferry American astronauts back and forth to the International Space Station right now? Horrifying.

Get the scoop on the whole scene from our Very Special Space Issue. (Now available online!)

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  1. $100 per pound to orbit, if true, is DC-3 territory.

    1. Don’t be ridiculous. A DC-3 could never make it into orbit. Besides, all the passengers would freeze.

      1. Two birds, one stone: nuke them into orbit.

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  2. IIRC, Popular Mechanics promised in the 1960s cars that could drive themselves would be on the road “soon”.

    Flying cars were promised around the same time.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    1. the $63 million we’re playing to the Russians to ferry American astronauts back and forth to the International Space Station right now…

      …is not quite the same thing as a suborbital joyride.

      1. Dragon is going to dock with the ISS. Not just a joyride.

        1. And if it performs well on the next few missions, a manned mission is all the more likely to happen before too long.

    2. I have agreed without reservation to stop bitching about my lack of a flying car if the current progress in honest to FSM regenerative medicine come to fruition.

      I think that would be an adequate substitute marker for having reached the notional (as opposed to literal) 21st Century.

  3. newt’s missed NASA’s transition to robotic missions, yrs ahead of the air force, which require much less lift. >joey, do you like moon colonies?

  4. I think Rand’s figures were a little optimistic for the near-term, but the fact is that $100/pound to orbit is something we may see this decade. If so, huge opportunities will open up.

    1. Probably not this decade, but maybe next. The development timeframe for these kinds of things tends to be ~10 years, and they’re just getting started. Hell, they’ve only had 1 or 2 (can’t remember which off the top of my head) Falcon 9 flights and only 1 test flight of the Dragon. Any talk of fully reusable Falcon/ Dragon is still speculative at this point.

      The good news though is that by developing their system incrementally SpaceX already has a pretty good backlog of commercial satellite launches that should make them viable while they develop reusable technology. That’s assuming nothing gets SNAFU’d.

  5. I’d buy a ticket but I need a passenger list to make sure none of you are next to me

    The question remains: who would you want to sit with for a space flight?

    1. A billionaire sugar daddy who paid my fare. Will Pepsi be served…or Koch?

    2. I’d buy a ticket but I need a passenger list to make sure none of you are next to me

      So: You won’t sit next to me and I won’t have to sit next to you. I think we have a workable deal here.

      1. Yes and this is how I deal with any manifest differences

  6. Again with the discrimination against persons of size.

    1. Space flight is a human right.

      1. I think we can use this! It’s got a nice ring to it!

        1. I think we can use this! It’s got a nice ring to it!

          1. true OWS’ers dont use artifical amplification, only monistic chants.

  7. TO THE MOON, ALICE! TO THE MOON!

    /newcular titties

  8. onetime my Dad got mad at me because I ate the buttons off my sweater.

    1. Is “sarcasmic” your other name?

      1. I’ve decided I’m John this week
        https://reason.com/blog/2012/02…..nt_2821724

  9. I’ll trade you two tickets to paradise to go up in that thing.

    1. I always thought it was Two Tickets, a Pair of Dice

  10. “the cost will run about $100 per pound. For the average male, that means about 20,000 bucks”

    SPACE: $19,999

  11. Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace. Space space space.

  12. Am I the only one whose first thought had more to do with weight loss than saving up?

    1. No, i thought that too.

  13. And the $63 million we’re playing to the Russians to ferry American astronauts back and forth to the International Space Station right now? Horrifying.

    FYI putting humans in a parabolic trajectory vs into orbit is a big hurtle.

  14. Tickets for nonexistent flights are getting cheaper! Cool! Let me know when a private corporation develops a rocket that can send a capsule into space at escape velocity (about 27,000 mph) and, of course, bring it back again safely. That will be private enterprise space flight. Up until then, not so much.

    1. So for you it doesn’t count as space flight unless it gets you to the Moon, something the entire human race has achieved only a little over dozen times? (Or considering your given escape velocity, leaves the Earth/Moon system, which the human race has never achieved?)

      FYI, SpaceX sent a Dragon capsule into orbit and safely back in 2010. They’re now getting ready to do it with humans inside.

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