|Vostok 1 - First manned space flight|
When you actually look at the state of the technology, its not insane to think that trips into space will be as routine as trips on an aeroplane in my lifetime.
The best comparison is air travel. Air travel was, for many years, the domain of the military only. Commercially it was unproven technology, dangerous and prohibitively expensive. Then along came the first commercial aircraft, the Comet. It remained very costly for the passenger and was a luxury that only a very few could afford. It was also massively dangerous, and Comet aircraft were plagued with technical problems, some of which were fatal.
But today, some 60 years after the first Comet flight, air travel is cheap, safe and almost anyone can afford it. I am certain space travel will follow this same development profile, but with one major difference, it will be safe.
It will be safe because, as a human race, we are no longer allow ourselves to be pioneers. We don't allow ourselves to be faced with any risk, whatsoever. We leave these things to companies, and we expect them to design out dangers. They design out dangers because they are in fear of litigation adding years onto development programs, and increase costs hugely. This is obviously a good thing, but our risk averse society irritates me. Allowing risk taking in the name of science or technology is important, and without it we wouldn't have achieved air travel, space travel, sea travel etc.
So when the first passenger steps onto a commercial spacecraft, it will be in the knowledge that it is totally safe and almost devoid of risk...which is a bit depressing to an adrenaline junky like me.
If commercial space travel follows the same development profile of air travel, which i expect it to, its likely that i will find myself booking a round the world trip, in space, in the next 50 or so years. Which is an awesome thought.
|Virgin Galactic in the centre, attached to its launch plane|
Article inspired by http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12909071
Anyone interested in space trivia, this website is great http://www.outerspaceuniverse.org