24 January 2008

Of all the things to happen in the next decade or so, Virgin actually launching their commercial space service may be one of the most influential.

Our dreams in the 80’s of the last few years being a decade of space travel (as many SciFi series, not least those of Gerry Anderson, foretold) have been on the whole not realised, and space travel has so far proven to be expensive, dangerous and unreliable. This may be as much to do with the operators responsible for it as the problem domain itself. So far it has been almost exclusively in the hands of government or military run organisations and only for research projects. The only real commercial usage has been the launching of satellites, the launches of which are still unreliable and relatively expensive.

If space flight becomes more commercial and market driven, costs will be driven down, and ))SpaceShipTwo(( has already demonstrated how much cheaper it is than conventional space rockets per launch. As I mentioned in an earlier article, the plans for space hotels are beginning to be realised too. I look forward to the next decade as being the one where space travel will actually become more than merely a pipe dream.