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Google's Brin Books a Space Flight 170

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-can-see-my-house-from-here dept.
coondoggie writes "Google largely conquered the Earth — now it is taking aim at space. At least co-founder Sergei Brin is. Brin today said he put down $5 million toward a flight to the International Space Station in 2011. Brin's space travel will be brokered by Space Adventures, the space outfit that sent billionaire software developer Charles Simonyi to the station in 2007. Computer game developer (and son of a former NASA astronaut) Richard Garriott is currently planning a mission to the ISS in October 2008. Garriott is paying at least $30 million to launch toward the space station aboard a Russian Soyuz spaceship according to Space Adventures." Make sure to wave when you are over Michigan, man. I'll be the one on my lawn, green with envy.
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Google's Brin Books a Space Flight

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  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:05PM (#23750317)

    Make sure to wave when you are over Michigan man. I'll be the one on my lawn green with envy.
    I hope you'll be wearing at least a bright red shirt or something, because otherwise you're going to blend right in.
  • by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:08PM (#23750391)
    While this may sound like a nice adventure, going into space, if I had a billion, its the last thing I would ever want to do, because it is so risky. There are a million things that can go wrong, space flight has a high rate of occurance of accidents, when you are in orbit, as well, there is not much anyone on ground can do to help you when you get into trouble. So certainly, it is a huge gamble, and not one I would be comfortable with.
    • Totally worth it IMO
      • Seconded.
    • by Nimey (114278) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:24PM (#23750697) Homepage Journal
      Good thing space exploration isn't in your hands, then.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:24PM (#23750699)
      And that is one reason you do not have a billion.
    • The fact that he is doing it although it is risky, is probably the reason he has the billion dollars in the first place.
      • by afabbro (33948)
        Oh, horseshit. For every guy who's risked everything and made a billion, there are thousands who did the same and did not. Fearlessness does not equal success in any way, shape, or form.
        • Absolutely. I totally agree with you. But all people who have succeeded, have risked.
    • If I had a billion I might think about it, but if I 'only' had $5-30 million I could think of things that would give much more satisfaction overall. It would be cool to experience Zero G, see the earth from space, see the stars more clearly, etc, but personally I think I'd probably find SCUBA diving in the carribean much more fun.. you don't have to pee into a bottle when you're in the sea.
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      While this may sound like a nice adventure, going into space, if I had a billion, its the last thing I would ever want to do, because it is so risky.
      [SNIP]
      So certainly, it is a huge gamble, and not one I would be comfortable with.

      Chill out man, he's not asking you to go, he's planning to go himself.
      Not knowing the guy personally I can't say for sure, but there's a high probability that he's big enough, old enough and ugly enough to make these choices for himself.
      IIRC, he was a graduate student when starting

  • by cashman73 (855518) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:09PM (#23750413) Journal
    Google is now just one step closer to founding the Copernicus Center [google.com],... ;-)
  • by jason.sweet (1272826) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:09PM (#23750417)
    Kinda offsets driving a Prius, doesn't it?
    • If the shuttle or the soyuz is going up anyway, it's not like paying for a ticket is going to change much. I guess Brin could pay a carbon offset for the fuel required for the delta-v of his mass (~150-250lbs).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cashman73 (855518)
        I never really understood the purpose of "buying carbon offsets". To me, it's just a total advertising gimmick. I mean, people aren't actually changing their behaviors and lifestyle choices to live a more environmentally-friendly life. It's basically just a way to say, "Fine! Go ahead and keep polluting the earth and destroying the ozone! But as long as you give lots of money to , it's all ok!"

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Suppose that the cash goes toward planting trees, research, efficiency upgrades -- something like that. Then it might make sense. But cutting out the middle man might make a lot more sense. I suppose it depends on how much you trust your carbon offset broker.

          Personally, I've yet to hear a compelling case as to why (and to whom) I should be making this sort of donation.

          • Oh, and the hole-in-the-ozone thing, caused by CFC propellants, is very "eighties". Yes, it's real, and yes, it probably going to be giving penguins cancer for many years to come -- but the crisis that in the headlines these days is the greenhouse effect aka global warming aka global climate change. No weird chemicals involved, just regular "harmless" CO2.

            This is part of the reason that global warming took a while to catch on as something to panic about. It's easy to condemn nasty things like sulfur, le

          • http://www.terrapass.com/projects/ [terrapass.com]

            I buy offsets because I think it's the right thing to do to work towards a solution regarding climate change. Eventually, it'll either be legislated (i.e: required, via a tax on fuel) or the price of oil will go so high that consumption will drop drastically on it's on (i.e. the current situation in the US).

        • by corbettw (214229)
          Guess you've never heard of plenary indulgences [wikipedia.org].
        • by Firehed (942385) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:56PM (#23751347) Homepage
          It's just outsourcing your environmental concerns :)
          • Theory of indulgences: somebody somewhere is doing good, you've got money, why don't you buy a bit of excess "good" with your money. (The excess "good" was Jesus' "Treasury of Merit", on the theory that since he was basically infinitely good you couldn't tap him out just by drawing out a finite amount to expiate your sin of choice.)

            Theory of carbon offsets: somebody somewhere is doing good, you've got money, why don't you buy a bit of excess "good" with your money.
        • by cHiphead (17854)
          ^5

          I'm right there with you. My more in-tune-with-yuppiedom friends spoke feverishly about how they 'buy carbon offsets', yet I noted they still drive 10-15mpg vehicles and have poor insulation with all the glamorous wall sized windows to maximize the view of the lake outside their place.

          Paying a 'non profit' to plant a tree will not reduce the amount of energy they consume. Level of consumption is the problem, not just additional trees.
          • I'd mod u up if I could. I think it is better to spend where it counts. I bought a decent sized solar array that will take nearly forever to pay for. But by buying it, it makes a bigger market for solar, which pushes research into cheaper solar, which may get solar cheap enough some day. I think the key is to buy things like panels, high eff. A/C & heat, low energy lighting etc to push corp world to make these objects in mass. If it is profitable to be green, we will be green.
        • Actually, it's pretty easy to understand buying carbon offsets (if you're an intelligent, altruistic human being). If you're the kind of person who enjoys pushing the externalities of oil consumption onto other people, resulting in a tragedy of the commons situation, than you wouldn't see the point of carbon offsets.

          I've reduced my carbon emissions as much as possible in my home, at the business I own, and with my vehicles (2 hybrids and an all electric on the way). Carbon offsets let me offset that last

        • It can be a total advertising gimmick and money-shuffling scam, just like any other activity. However, the concept carbon offsets, and any deceit promulgated in its name, is based on is valid.

          Carbon dioxide is a globally well-mixed gas. Hence, removing CO2 from the atmosphere at any point on the planet balances out adding CO2 to the atmosphere at any other point on the planet. How, and even if, that CO2 removal is accomplished is where the duplicity & deceitfulness comes into play.

          CO2 physically removed
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        Well the shuttle is close carbon free last time I checked. 2LH2+Lo2= 2 H20 and a lot of heat.
        Now the SRBs probably do produce some CO2 but I am not sure of the exact chemistry of the binder.

        Now Soyuz isn't carbon free at all but then it will probably burn less full than Brin burns in private 767 in a year.
        It is good to be the king.
        • by mfrank (649656)
          And the industrial processes used to make rocket fuel are fueled by what, exactly?
    • by Bearpaw (13080) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:22PM (#23750657)
      How do we calculate MPG? Sure, it's a shitload of fuel just to go 213 miles up (*), but then you can coast for ~3 million miles!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Richard Garriott will be America's first 2nd generation astronaut and will be onboard with Russia's first 2nd generation cosmonaut - Sergey Volkov. A great way to express the new space age of international cooperation.
  • Make sure to wave when you are over Michigan man. I'll be the one on my lawn green with envy.
    Am I the only one who read that as "I'll be the one on my green lawn with envy?"
  • Chalk me up on someone who is quite jealous of S. Brin over this! I mean the vast richest he has _earned_ is of no concern to me. The fact that he gets to not only go into space, but he gets to be tagged with being the first person in space via a private venture is enough to make even the modest geek envious. Thanks for helping the door for the rest of us to follow you through in the future though.

    I hope to follow the same path someday and pay for myself to float around for a few days in space ;) - Then
    • by cHiphead (17854)
      I could give a shit either way. Do you know how many people you could HELP with $5 million, like real bonified food on the table for dinner kind of help?

      His little toy trip into space is not going to benefit mankind, unless he is explicitly going to perform dangerous experiments that could put his life at risk other than just riding along or pressing a few buttons at the direction of an astronaut, in which case perhaps I could feel a need to encourage him.

      Or on a more greedily humorous note, he could just
      • by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:35PM (#23752191) Homepage

        I could give a shit either way. Do you know how many people you could HELP with $5 million, like real bonified food on the table for dinner kind of help?

        It's not like the money just vanishes into thin air, you know. Sergei gives it to someone else, who ends up giving it to someone else, who gives it to someone else, who gives it to someone else... and so the economy rolls on. You could argue that spending the money does a lot more good for society than just leaving it in the bank.

        BTW, why are you sitting there reading Slashdot when you could be volunteering at your local homeless shelter?

        • Ah yes, the trickle down Reagonimics [theonion.com].

          The inverse of this is how a $600 check from the government to all tax payers will revitalize the entire US economy.

          • by PCM2 (4486)
            No, that's not the same thing. Trickle-down theory largely relates to tax policy. It's about putting more money into the pockets of businesses and the wealthy as a means of spurring overall economic growth (whether you personally believe in that or not).

            In contrast, Brin has just done the opposite. He's volunteered to take $5 million out of his own pocket and give it to someone else. That's not trickle-down economics, that's plain ol' ordinary economics.

            BTW, even if you don't believe that spending $5 millio
        • If you keep your money in a bank, it doesn't just sit there. The bank lends it out to other people or businesses - so leaving it in a bank isn't so detrimental to society. If you are unwilling to spend it, the bank will spend it on your behalf - while paying you an interest rate for the privilege.
        • by cHiphead (17854)
          It was somewhat a tongue in cheek reply on my part. Where do you think his $5 million will go? I bet it goes a quarter to the private ventures costs, the rest to a select group of capital investors who will keep it entrenched in capital gains markets. As a result, the taxable footprint that would've mitigated additional costs for public services or money towards employee wages (not even including stock options) is greatly reduced, and the idea that the money will move on down the line towards lower income
      • by db32 (862117)
        To be fair spending large sums of money actually does help lots of people. Its the money hoarding that is the real problem. Now granted it is a little less direct, and the people it helps aren't exactly in dire need of help. But, the fact remains, there are a shitton of people who benefit as a result of this. It takes a ton of people to get a spacecraft off the ground, and a significant chunk of that money goes to pay all of those people that make it possible.

        Now, at the same time, the ammount of peop
      • by IdeaMan (216340)

        Do you know how many people you could HELP with $5 million, like real bonified food on the table for dinner kind of help?

        You don't understand what motivates humans.

        Dreams and Hope.
        The hope that there is more out there to find that just my little space. The dream that someday my kids or my grandchildren can visit the stars.

        Wonder.
        The wonder of the vastness of the universe. The awe that inspired at the power required to cross such vast distances and the beauty of orbit.

        Love.
        N/A for this one.

        Greed.
        Space has huge quantities of resources. Unfortunately there are staggeringly large distances to cross get to them.

        Envy.
        Envy that

  • Oh yea duh... but waiting for all the modules to be installed should make it even more fun. I wonder what it would cost to make a space walk? Gotta get going on that web3.0 killer app.
  • by Subm (79417) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:29PM (#23750791)
    It would be great if he would spend at least a comparable amount of money to plant trees or something else to help the environment for the amount of CO2 and other pollution he's going to cause to be put into the atmosphere.

    I guess he has the right to pollute all he wants, but launching yourself into orbit dwarfs the effect on the environmental most people would ever cause. People get the value of protecting the Earth from viewing it from space. Usually that perspective ends up happening afterward. I hope Brin gets it beforehand.

    "...From up there, it looks finite and it looks fragile and it really looks like just a tiny little place on which we live in a vast expanse of space. It gave me the feeling of really wanting us all to take care of the Earth. I got more of a sense of Earth as home, a place where we live. And of course you want to take care of your home. You want it clean. You want it safe."
    -- Winston Scott, two-time shuttle astronaut

    "You change because you see your life differently than when you live on the surface everyday. ... We are so involved in our own little lives and our own little concerns and problems. I don't think the average person realizes the global environment that we really live in. I certainly am more aware of how fragile our Earth is, and, frankly, I think that I care more about our Earth because of the experiences I've had traveling in space."
    -- Eileen Collins, first female space shuttle commander.

    I'm sure he has friends who read Slashdot. If you are one of them, could you ask him to think and do something about how his actions will affect the rest of us?
    • by khallow (566160) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:11PM (#23751711)
      Alternately, we could stop giving in to global warming hysteria and recognize that there are carbon producing activities more important than eliminating positive carbon emissions. Space tourism, for example, easily meets this weak threshhold. Yes, sending rich guys on joy rides in space is more important than token gestures of support for environmentalism.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737)

      I guess he has the right to pollute all he wants, but launching yourself into orbit dwarfs the effect on the environmental most people would ever cause.

      So because he's going up it's bad, even if the rocket were headed up anyway? By that logic the space program should be ended entirely. Never mind that he'll probably do it once in his life whereas millions of cars keep dumping crap into the atmosphere every day at an order of magnitude more per day.

      Usually that perspective ends up happening afterward. I hope

    • How is riding along on a flight already taking place expending more energy & emitting more CO2?

      Besides, Google has spent more money already on alternative energy research & other environmental friendliness than Brin is spending on this space flight.

      http://www.google.com/corporate/green/energy/reducing.html [google.com]

      As part of that responsibility, Google has committed to being carbon-neutral for 2007 and beyond. To honor our pledge, we're taking a three-step approach. First, we're increasing the energy effici

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Digital End (1305341)
      While you are saying that, would you mind disabling your cellphone, gps, tv, and anything else space travel has given you? k thx
    • launching yourself into orbit dwarfs the effect on the environmental most people would ever cause.

      The technological advancements achieved from space programs alone offset any sort of emissions chemically powered rockets emitted in order to get us into orbit (and that's not to mention the potential for human unity that trans-national space programs have nor any other human benefits technological advancements space programs have introduced). If we (as a human race) had never engaged in the challenging exercise of optimizing existing technologies or creating new technologies in a way that is necessary for

  • If you live in Michigan and still have a front lawn that hasn't washed away, consider yourself lucky.
  • Risky business. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dzimas (547818) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:37PM (#23750955)

    I'm jealous and also quite in awe of how brave people are to venture into space. Some sobering stats on manned space flight: 18 of the 430 people who've ventured into space didn't make it back alive. Of course, quite a few astronauts and cosmonauts have flown more than once, but I calculate that the shuttle's overall fatality rate is running at around 1.8%. IOW, the chance of dying is about the same as my chance of winning $10 in this week's 6/49 Lotto. I hope he has a fantastic trip and that he blogs about his experience.

    Would I be willing to venture into space if given the chance? I'm not sure. I'd love to have the opportunity to consider it, though.

    • Well, as someone who said above I don't see the point for that kind of money, if I could do it for free then I'd definitely consider it. I do vaguely remember hearing about a Soyuz blowing up though? The benefits would probably outweigh the cost if it cost up to 1000 pounds for me, but over that I wouldn't consider it worth it :p
    • by Kingrames (858416)
      "Would I be willing to venture into space if given the chance? I'm not s-"

      If you spoke this out loud, you'd be interrupted by billions of people who would be willing to go into space at the drop of a hat.
      • by Dzimas (547818)

        *If you spoke this out loud, you'd be interrupted by billions of people who would be willing to go into space at the drop of a hat.*

        I think you're significantly overestimating. Merrill Lynch estimated that there were about 95,000 people in the world with personal fortunes of $30 million or more in 2006. If even 1% of those people wanted to book a trip to the ISS, Space Adventures would have almost 1000 applications piled on their desks. But they don't.
        • by Kingrames (858416)
          I never said anything about being able to afford it.
        • by FleaPlus (6935)
          I think you're significantly overestimating. Merrill Lynch estimated that there were about 95,000 people in the world with personal fortunes of $30 million or more in 2006. If even 1% of those people wanted to book a trip to the ISS, Space Adventures would have almost 1000 applications piled on their desks. But they don't.

          I suspect that for the people who can financially afford it, the concern isn't so much the $30 million fee. It's more the several months of dedicated training in Russia you have to do, is
    • Up to the turn of the century about as many people summited Everest and went into space with a similar fatality rate. With pampered guided tours recently, the Everest summits are about triple.
    • Re:Risky business. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ELProphet (909179) <davidsouther@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:25PM (#23753115) Homepage
      Most interesting in that line of statistics: no human has died outside the confines of Earth's atmosphere. Apollo 1 was a fire on the pad, Challenger hadn't crossed 50 miles, and Columbia was under 50 miles. The Russian space program has similar circumstances. 18 didn't walk out of the craft alive, but all 420 who have crossed into space have made it back inside the atmosphere.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by guruevi (827432)
      I would like to see those numbers over the years. I think (wild speculation) space travel would be (on a relative yearly basis) safer than both cars and airplanes. Also compare Russian, European, Chinese and US based space programs. AFAIK most crashes and malfunctions happen on the Shuttle program with the Soyuz program having the lowest cost and casualties.
  • I thought the Russians announced that they were no longer doing the space tourism gig, and that space tourism was going to be the realm of private industry from that point forward.

    I know he's booking through a separate agency, but the Russians are still hauling the meat in the seat.
    • by FleaPlus (6935)
      I thought the Russians announced that they were no longer doing the space tourism gig, and that space tourism was going to be the realm of private industry from that point forward.

      They had previously announced that they would no longer sell individual seats, but it looks like in this case Space Adventures is booking the entire capsule.
    • Mark Shuttleworth
    • Charles Simonyi
    • Richard Garriott
    • Sergey Brin

    Earth or not, the geek are sure inheriting space!

  • Make sure to wave when you are over Michigan, man. I'll be the one on my lawn, green with envy.


    Well Taco, you should have sold your VA stock right after the IPO then.

    (I keed. I Keed.)
  • If I had the money, I might do it, but since I don't...what an egomaniacal, opulent ass.
  • Whoa, when did the IIS become a space hotel? Are the russians kicking out real sceintists so they can jam a billionaire in there for a quick infusion of cash? How is that in the spirit of space research and exploration?
    • by PCM2 (4486)

      Whoa, when did the IIS become a space hotel?

      Better that than a Web server.

  • Perhaps its easier for Google to fire Brin into space with a Canon Point-and-Shoot to update those ever changing Google Earth maps...
  • NASA has let non-astronauts into space. Rather than selling these positions, NASA has sought citizens with a special slant. One was a Senator. Two were teachers( one didnt quite make it, and one converted into a full-fledge astronaut). And there was a slot for a journalist/author/poet that I dont think was ever realized after the accidents.
  • When he gets up there and realizes that he can't make the world move in any direction he wants like he can using Google Earth.
  • by Illbay (700081) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:20PM (#23754035) Journal
    Since the cost of fuel has gone up, NASA has started adding surcharges on everything.

    For instance, now you get only one carry-on bag free of charge. Any extra bags cost $100,000 apiece.

    You no longer get free beverage service on the shuttle. Soft Drinks are $3,000 each, beer and wine $5,000 and mixed drinks are $10,000.

    If you want an in-flight magazine, that'll be an extra $4,000.

    Pretty soon, only the really wealthy or business customers will be flying to the ISS, at these prices.

  • the share holders, AdSense users, & Google fans who actually made this possible. We bought the stock, clicked the clicks, read the ads, handed over our personal information to put this executive in orbit.

  • Nice. He won't even have to learn Russian. I heard that's a requirement on the ISS - to know at least a few basic phrases. And seeing that he holds an advanced degree, he won't have any trouble doing the actual work, which is another requirement. And he's not very heavy.

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