7 thoughts on “Any Decade Now”

  1. Some really awesome orbital habitats come to mind. We could have had them ready a decade earlier and launching on Falcon Heavy, co-orbiting with the ISS. Or in perhaps a more useful equatorial orbit.

    Staying in a higher inclination orbit, thus would have been born a new hotelier, for sightseers, aka Virgin Orbit.

    Alternative histories are fun speculation, but life goes on. With luck we will have orbital hotels even without Sir Richard’s money.

  2. Branson is a hobbyist
    Bezos is a dilletante
    Musk is an entrepreneur, and very successful at it

    And NASA is a RICO indictment waiting to be filed

  3. Blue Origin is consequential to the extent that they are able to develop propulsion and other technologies that can get payloads into space in useful orbits or other trajectories. the suborbital tourists were supposed to be a means to that end and so far, that doesn’t seem to have worked.

    What Virgin has proved conclusively in twenty years is that their whole approach is a dead end. Assuming they can again scale it up without all the drama and delays of their first attempt, it remains the space equivalent of a roller coaster. They may make a profitable business of it yet, but that’s the end.

    1. I’d certainly consider a ride on VO, since NASA isn’t holding up the promise they made in 1963 that I would live on Luna.

      A view from space, for a few minutes

  4. Spaceship One and subsequent Virgin efforts is what you get when you ask an airplane designer to build a spaceship.
    Spaceships don’t need wings!
    Imagine a conical design with wide base which goes straight up to 100Km and descends and lands on rocket power. Eventually might be turned into an upper orbital stage. See Stoke Space.

  5. The X-Prize was intended to be a stepping stone into space for private enterprise, not an end in itself. Spaceship One was designed as the simplest, cheapest way to win that prize and was completely incapable of anything beyond that. Not a stepping stone, a dead end.

    The only lasting accomplishment is proving that the hybrid rocket engine is neither easier to develop, simpler to build or any safer than more conventional engines and probably combines all the worst characteristics of liquid fuel, solid fuel and, with nitrous oxide, hypergolics as well.

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