Private Space Flight At 'Inflection Point'

Is private space flight really ready to take off? According to former astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, speaking at the eighth annual International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight, the answer is a definite "yes".

"It's not an exaggeration to say that 2012 has really been an inflection point," said Lopez-Alegria; there is "a sea change going on" both in terms of achievements within the industry and the perception of this industry to the outside world.

Technovelgy readers have already seen the achievements of private industry; for example, the Elon Musk's SpaceX Dragon space capsule linked up with the International Space Station earlier this month in an historic accomplishment.


(SpaceX Dragon back at ISS)

Never to be outdone, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic shows off its first SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceliner (shown below mated to its WhiteKnightTwo mothership).


(Virgin Galactic's)

Science fiction fans have long been comfortable with the private exploration of space. Perhaps the earliest direct science fiction reference to journey to the Moon (at least, using a ship propelled by mechanical forces), Jules Verne details the trip From the Earth to the Moon in a projectile vehicle in 1867:

The projectile had now to be filled to the depth of three feet with a bed of water, intended to support a water-tight wooden disc, which worked easily within the walls of the projectile. It was upon this kind of raft that the travelers were to take their place. This body of water was divided by horizontal partitions, which the shock of the departure would have to break in succession. Then each sheet of the water, from the lowest to the highest, running off into escape tubes toward the top of the projectile, constituted a kind of spring; and the wooden disc, supplied with extremely powerful plugs, could not strike the lowest plate except after breaking successively the different partitions. Undoubtedly the travelers would still have to encounter a violent recoil after the complete escapement of the water; but the first shock would be almost entirely destroyed by this powerful spring. The upper parts of the walls were lined with a thick padding of leather, fastened upon springs of the best steel, behind which the escape tubes were completely concealed; thus all imaginable precautions had been taken for averting the first shock; and if they did get crushed, they must, as Michel Ardan said, be made of very bad materials.

The entrance into this metallic tower was by a narrow aperture contrived in the wall of the cone. This was hermetically closed by a plate of aluminum, fastened internally by powerful screw-pressure. The travelers could therefore quit their prison at pleasure, as soon as they should reach the moon.

The entire project, which included the mighty Columbiad that launched the projectile into space, was undertaken by the Baltimore Gun Club, a private organization led by the indefatigable Impey Barbicane.

Closer to our own day, Robert Heinlein detailed private exploration of the local parts of the galaxy in Methuselah's Children and using small craft like the Joy-Boat Junior. Private craft could be used to reach private homes in orbit in Heinlein's Waldo using a small broomstick speeder:

Grimes let his eyes run over his friend's fusiformed little speedster. Its body was as nearly invisible as the plastic industry could achieve. A surface layer, two molecules thick, gave it a refractive index sensibly identical with that of air. When perfectly clean it was very difficult to see...

Running down the middle, clearly visible through the walls, was the only metal part of the ship - the shaft, or, more properly, the axis core, and the spreading sheaf of deKalb receptors at its terminus. The appearance was enough like a giant witch's broom to justify the nickname....

From CBS News and Space.com.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/20/2012)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Bookies Let You Place Your Bets On the Future!
I'll bet you feel strongly enough about at least one of these bets to want to put your money down.

NASA Gives Away Rocket Code - For Dads
'The rocket thundered and leaped. The children danced in their hammocks, screaming.'- Ray Bradbury, 1952.

Automated Planet Finder Telescope Starts The Hunt
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'- Edmond Hamilton, 1936.

Spacesuit Z-2: NASA Wants You To Pick Their Next Design
'Al was hastily donning his space suit...'- Schachner and Zagat, 1931.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Bookies Let You Place Your Bets On the Future!
Put your money where your mouth is, sf fans!

How Do Americans See The Future Of Technology?
Do you want to participate in the future?

Flying Graffiti Drone Will Alter The Urban Landscape
The tagger's dream - lie in bed while painting at a remote location.

Should Autonomous Cars Have Feelings About Crashes?
'Robots have worse problems than anybody.'

M-Block Modular Robots Assemble Themselves
'... as though a child should build from nursery blocks a fantastic shape which abruptly is filled with throbbing life.'

Augmented Reality Ship's Bridge From Rolls Royce
'... the immense, three-dimensional, minutely cubed model...'

Artificial Blood From Factories
This blood's for you.

Wrigley's Anti-Impotence Chewing Gum
'Chew one of these, Mr. Chip.'

Arcology Now Universal Constructor
'... the hotel direly wanted to exist.'

MisTable Fog Display Like SeaQuest DSV
Captain Bridger, a message is coming in.

Full-Size Invisibility Cloak Now Possible
'I donned it and drew its hood, and threw on its current.'

Bioengineered Muscle Grows In Mice
'Joeboys... shoulders bulging with grafted muscle.'

Self-Assembling Nanoparticles Move Like Tiny Gears
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically...'

PredPol Predicting Crime As It Happens
'All day long the idiots babbled...'

UK Internet Filters Default To 'Family-Friendly'
'People bought personalized filter programs...'

NASA Gives Away Rocket Code - For Dads
'The rocket thundered and leaped. The children danced in their hammocks, screaming.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.