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« It's Dead, Jim | Main | I Wonder... »

Unsafe At Any Speed?

This article about the safety of the space tourism industry is wrong on several levels. I'll be rebutting it one way or the other within the next day or two.

[Update at noon]

Clark Lindsey beats me to the punch (at least as far as publishing--ahh, the wonder of blogs), with many of the points that I'll be making, probably in a rebuttal at TCS tomorrow.

If statistics were a child, Alexander Tabarrok would be arrested for abuse...


[Update on Friday morning]

I have to say that I'm pretty underwhelmed by Professor Tabarrok's response to my column. He seems to have read it sufficiently to complain about my use of the (admittedly overused) word "paradigm," but not comprehended it. He certainly doesn't offer any substantive response to my arguments or criticism, except to cling to his old myths. David Masten wasn't very impressed, either.

Posted by Rand Simberg at November 18, 2004 08:09 AM
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At least, you have to admit that the extrapolation of rocket failure rates to the year 2217 is rock solid and impossible to rebut. Don't mess with The Graph. I suppose you could be mindboggingly pedantic and whine about how this guy includes unmanned rockets, but rockets are rockets. Or how the only other ways contemplated are either a space elevator or "other such device not yet available and perhaps not yet even contemplated".

Posted by Karl Hallowell at November 18, 2004 09:09 AM

Everest expeditions have a death rate of 4.4%. That's interesting, even higher than the shuttle, and I'm sure Rutan could improve on that by an order of magnitude.

Posted by B.Brewer at November 18, 2004 11:22 AM

That's exceedingly interesting. If you post a link to your source perhaps Rand can use it. Here are some people who are selling tickets for a 2005 expedition to Everest. Cost is $65,000.

Posted by Carl Pham at November 18, 2004 12:11 PM

*puts on space helmet*

All Aboard!! Everyone step softly now as you climb into my privately owned space capsule lest we upset the 4 MILLION POUNDS OF HIGHLY VOLATILE AND EXPLOSIVE ROCKET FUEL WERE ALL STANDING ON **waves arms violently in the air**!!! SHHHH!!! Move with gentle action or this delicate and quivering mass of dangerous technology will most certainly tip over and squash an endangered North American woodland shrew with uncaring fury. Now as you strap yourself in take note of the risk and waiver form located in the seat back in front of you. No worries for the ink in the pen is made of biodegradable flaxseed oils :D Ready for countdown? Okay Great! On your mark, Get set..Oh wait - is that an Angora sweater? I'm highly Allllerrgg AAHH AAHH CHEBOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!! *The world just blew up*

Posted by Josh "Hefty" Reiter at November 18, 2004 12:36 PM

What it comes down to is that this fellow never establishes his assumptions, so his argument is specious. He never begins to explain what he is actually evaluating or why it is valid to compare it to space tourism. There aren't holes in his argument - rather, there is no argument.

Posted by VR at November 18, 2004 12:57 PM

Here's the link to the Everest stats.

Space tourism: (too) risky business?

Posted by B.Brewer at November 18, 2004 01:16 PM

Mr. Tabarrok has convinced me that bread causes crime.

Seriously though, he fails to acknoledge that on a well-designed craft, there will be several abort and or escape modes that do not apply to unmanned rockets.

Just because a launch fails, it need not reuslt in loss of crew and passengers or even the vehicle itself.

Posted by Mike Puckett at November 18, 2004 04:03 PM

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