10 thoughts on “Space Tourism”

  1. Some Everest-climbers, I’m sure, rather like the idea that if they die on the mountain it will become their final resting place. Near enough the top from what I’ve read, even if someone dies right along the trail, the risks and costs associated with bringing them down off the mountain preclude removing them.

    What better monument than one built by God that stands five and a half miles above sea level?

    1. There was an attempt to bring a body down one time that I know. Over 20 people could only go a few hundred meters then they had to give up and leave the body anyways.

  2. …and it makes no sense that a single accident would end the industry, any more than deaths on Everest stop people from climbing.

    I’ve always thought the Virgin Galactic/Everest analogy to be unsound. Climbing Everest is a great personal achievement worth great risk and cost to some people. Buying a helicopter ride (if there was a helicopter capable of it) to the top of Everest is not a great achievement and so would be worth considerably less risk and cost. I don’t think any business that offered helicopter rides to the top of Everest for tens of thousands of dollars and had a 10% fatality rate would last long.

    I think space tourism is much closer to the hypothetical helicopter ride than the arduous climb. I don’t think any space tourism business could survive a fatality rate comparable to Everest climbs.

    1. An even commercial helicopters have a rare fatality, as recently seen in NYC. But in those cases, we intuitively understand that if you do enough of anything, something will seriously fail. It’s only this particular helicopter provider that’s in trouble, not all of them. That’s the point we need to get to with any form of space tourism. Lots of flights, extremely rare accidents, and life for other providers (that are not using that particular vehicle model, if it was a design issue, vs. piloting or maintenance) goes on…

  3. I don’t think any space tourism business could survive a fatality rate comparable to Everest climbs.

    I don’t know whether it would or not, but it seems off topic for the post, which was the theoretical effect of a single fatal incident.

    1. Actually it does have some relevance. Folks have died mountain climbing for thousands of years so its taken for granted. Space tourism, like HSF is new, and so in their minds folks classify it differently. Its just like folks fear nuclear power, although it results in far fewer deaths then chopping wood.

  4. Like the Reno Air Races, it will probably depend on the insurance firms. If they are willing to continue to offer insurance at a reasonable rate, it will go on. If not, or the rate is too outrageous, then it ends.

  5. He doesn’t count NF-104A (1 accident in 302 flights), which I don’t get. He also doesn’t include the He 176, the SO 9000, or the SM-50, with 119 accident free flights between them. Or the various zero length launchers, with one accident in 86 flights. Or the XCOR rocketplanes, with 66 accident free flights. Or the Armadillo rocketplanes, with more than 50 accident free flights.

    So he counts 8 accidents in 846 flights (updated his numbers, was 8 in 499), for an accident rate of 0.95%. But he ignores 2 accidents in 623 flights, an accident rate 1/3 of the one he cites.

    This is an old story among space safety scaremongers. If you cherry pick your data, you can reach any conclusion you want to.

  6. If the federal government had a Bureau of Mountaineering, then if Everest were located in the United States I suspect it would be off limits to climbers.

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