Space, here I come!

via "TCS":http://www.techcentralstation.com/111804C.html:

bq. The vision is enticing but the facts suggest that space tourism is not ready for market.

Sorry, I don't buy it. The article extrapolates from failure rates of all orbital rockets, including unmanned ones, *practically all of which are expendable*, and then expands on this false extrapolation to say that rockets can't possibly be safe enough for tourism. This shows a complete lack understanding of how rockets are designed and built. There is a tradeoff between cost and safety; the reliability level is determined beforehand and then "dialed in."

This applies to SpaceShipOne as well. Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie are _test pilots_. They know the risks and they're willing to take them. Neither of them died or was even injured. Everybody knew there was a good chance one of them would die, including the pilots themselves. Tourist rockets would be tested by these same pilots, and only when all the bugs were worked out would they carry paying passengers.

Rockets built for tourism will have far greater safety and reliability than even the "optimistic" 500x figure the article "allows" for tourist rockets, for the very simple reason that they will be designed for tourists. Rockets aren't unreliable because we can't make them reliable. Rockets are unreliable because they are intentionally designed that way. The Shuttle is another matter... safety was hardly a real consideration, not when NASA is saying "tell us we can launch" to Morton Thiokol while the engineers at Morton are telling them it's going to blow up on the pad.

If one wanted to argue that rocket ships weren't ready for prime time, the better argument would be that it would be too expensive to design and build one that was safe enough for adventure tourism. However, this argument has not been made, and I think that the experience with SpaceShipOne proves exactly the opposite. Even at 10x or 100x the design cost, such a ship would still be profitable.

And strangely enough, people still pay 100k to climb Everest even though it's far more dangerous than even the Space Shuttle or Soyuz.

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