Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Transportation Space Technology

Richard Branson Plans Orbital Spaceships For Virgin Galactic 177

Posted by timothy
from the ignore-the-weight dept.
Velcroman1 writes "Following the historic first rocket-powered flight of its SpaceShipTwo vehicle, Virgin Galactic plans to build a fleet of spaceships and begin ferrying hundreds of tourists into space in 2014. And then? A whole new kind of spacecraft, Sir Richard Branson said. 'We'll be building orbital spaceships after that,' Branson told Fox News Tuesday, 'so that people who want to go for a week or two can.' Assuming the cost is on the same scale, would you pay a few hundred grand for a few weeks in orbit?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Richard Branson Plans Orbital Spaceships For Virgin Galactic

Comments Filter:
  • $200K ... Uh Oh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NReitzel (77941) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @12:47PM (#43592025) Homepage

    If I could get to orbit for $1,000,000, forget it. The problem is that $200K is just barely in reach, and I'd start thinking about selling my house.

    So, short answer. Yes.

    • by AuralityKev (1356747) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @12:49PM (#43592043)
      I wonder if you work for Virgin if they give you discounts? You know, like the airlines do with normal flights? That would be a hell of an incentive and may just gather the greatest nerdforce in history.
      • by 0123456 (636235)

        They probably take Air Miles.

      • Re:$200K ... Uh Oh. (Score:5, Informative)

        by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @01:37PM (#43592545)
        Forget it. Even $200k for a few weeks in space is a pipe dream right now. Even with your mass and your portion the mass of the spacecraft keeping you alive squashed down to say, a ton. that one ton has to be lobbed into low Earth orbit just to get you there. That would mean $200 per kg in launch costs. And if that $200k meant also the food and the service and the launch personnel and other costs, start looking for significantly lower launch cost figures. Who's going to do that for you? SpaceX is aiming for $2k per kg with their heaviest LV which is still only on paper. If they succeed, it will be the cheapest LV in history, by a wide margin, probably for quite some time. Who's going to squash another order of magnitude? And when? Also, one ton per person makes for a really cramped vessel (think Mercury capsule).
        • And if that $200k meant also the food and the service and the launch personnel and other costs

          It wouldn't have to, if the food and water and whatever else was already up there.

          Water can be recycled, from what I understand - and I expect that with all that solar energy, growing food wouldn't be impossible.

          The less mass you can send on a trip, the less the trip costs. Just keep the stuff up there and reuse it a lot.... let people check in at the hotel that's just 250 miles away.

      • by tchdab1 (164848)

        Get the right job and you can work flying people up there.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      Well, if it's $200k equiv. in, say, 2020, and it's an early private sector tech... hopefully by 2030 or 2040 it'll be a lot cheaper.

      'course, some of us will be getting on in years then...

      • by NReitzel (77941) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @01:08PM (#43592247) Homepage

        Some of us are already on in years.

        I expected to be here, at this point, by the end of the 70's. Then Vietnam happened, Nixon happened, and the future was, and still is, being mortgaged.

        • Are they going to honor my reservation with Pan Am ?
      • Energy costs will limit just how cheap it can get, and energy costs are rising.

        • Its not the energy cost so much as it is the amount of hardware you have to throw away or recondition between flights.

    • Money is one question. I'm curious what will be the caveats, such as "Virgin Galactic is not reasonable for any passengers with heart conditions, etc. And you must be this high."
    • by Motard (1553251)

      If the cost is 'on the same scale', it's going to be one heck of a lot more than $200K. Beginning next year, they should be able to get you into space for $200K - for about five minutes. What will it cost for two weeks?

    • I have long been willing to give my left nut to go into space. I'm only afraid that my left nut may not be keeping up with inflation.
  • I thought the first customer launch would be in 2011. Between the recession and perfection where human life is involved they took longer.

    I know someone who took the oreintation course in 2010. They put you in a similator so you you know how violent certain parts of the ride will be.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @12:48PM (#43592035) Homepage

    Assuming the cost is on the same scale, would you pay a few hundred grand for a few weeks in orbit?

    Would I if I had it to spend? Absolutely. Can I or most of us afford to spend the cost of a house on this? Sadly, no.

    I suspect most of us will never get to do this, which sucks. Because I would dearly love to do this before I die.

    • by langedb (518453)

      Assuming the cost is on the same scale, would you pay a few hundred grand for a few weeks in orbit?

      Would I if I had it to spend? Absolutely. Can I or most of us afford to spend the cost of a house on this? Sadly, no.

      I suspect most of us will never get to do this, which sucks. Because I would dearly love to do this before I die.

      Folks said the same thing about:

      • Automobiles
      • Air travel
      • Computers
      • Cellular Phones
      • ... and much more
        • Give it 30-40 years or so and you'll be getting daily deal notifications about $1000 one-way tickets to Disney-Space on Southwest.
      • $1000 one-way tickets to Disney-Space on Southwest

        I'll now be plagued with visions of moustronaut helmets. Thanks for that.

    • Cost of orbital flight for one person in 1962: $1.6B in 2010 dollars
      Cost of orbital flight for one person in 2014: $0.0002B in 2014 dollars

      There's a bit of downward pressure on the cost, so we might see it in our lifetime yet, depending on where you are on the actuarial tables.

      • Cost of orbital flight for one person in 1962: $1.6B in 2010 dollars Cost of orbital flight for one person in 2014: $0.0002B in 2014 dollars

        0.0002B is 0.2M, which is $200,000. That's for a sub-orbital flight. Big difference.

        There's a bit of downward pressure on the cost, so we might see it in our lifetime yet, depending on where you are on the actuarial tables.

        Yeah, but not that much.

    • While most can't or shouldn't afford this, there will still be at least 70 million people who can easily afford this if they chose (the top 1% of wealthy humans). It's a HUGE market.

  • by AuralityKev (1356747) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @12:52PM (#43592093)
    During a press conference surrounding the annoucement, Branson confirmed a name for the proposed space station has not been put forward, though he clarified "Nobody will mistake it for a mood, and please, call me Darth."
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@noSPam.hackish.org> on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @12:55PM (#43592115)

    I guess the 1960s really are back.

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      Better than the last few years where it was recession and war, which was the return of the 1930s.

      Sadly, we'll probably have to go though the 60's again in space tech to get back to where we need to be to progress. That's what happens when people stop doing things and decide to forget all about them.

  • If I had the money to spend, sure thing. Any geek would.

    Problem is ... I don't have the money to spend. Not even if I sell my house. And I suspect most geeks don't either. The question is, to be a bit blunt, rather stupid.

    I presume Virgin will find plenty of people willing to spend 200K on a week-long orbital vacation (probably not too many geeks) but less people with the actual cash in hand.

    [willing to spend] != [able to spend]

    - Jesper

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      Yeah, his clientele is still millionaires, just more of them will be able to afford it.

      That said, like airplanes, eventually they should get to a point where it is a experience where you can afford it if you are middle class, and it is still fairly luxurious, if not quite opulent. Once that happens, sign up as soon as possible for the experience, as it may well become the Golden Age of Sub-orbital/Orbital flights.

      Just don't wait until it is too cheap. Thirty years after that, you'll be crammed into tiny s

      • The difference between orbital flight and airplanes is that airplanes are actually a practical means of transportation from one destination to another. There are no destinations in orbit. It's just a few minutes of sightseeing.

        Moonbase Alpha is also not going to happen. A domed city in Antarctica would be more feasible and no less pointless.

        • This isn't transportation. It is an unusual resort, a cruise ship in orbit. People go on cruises to enjoy the cruise ship, not to get anywhere. Sure you see some sights also, but that is true of an orbital vacation too - you get amazing views of Earth all the time.

    • by afidel (530433)

      In case you didn't notice geeks make up a very high percentage of the high net worth individuals out there. Between tech, telecom, and the quants in the financial sector geeks are probably overrepresented in the top 1%.

    • by mmcxii (1707574)
      When this kicks off it'll be of such limited seating that even at a couple million a trip there will be people willing to pay out even if for no other reason than bragging rights. I wonder how many people tried to get on with the Russians at 20 million a pop before the plug was pulled.

      Virgin isn't going to need to worry about the customers' cash flow until they get something in orbit that makes cruise ships look small. It'll be decades.
    • but less people with the actual cash in hand.

      My dyslexia momentarily had me read that as "with the actual cash to land."

      That makes for an even stickier situation...

    • by rvw (755107)

      If I had the money to spend, sure thing. Any geek would.

      Problem is ... I don't have the money to spend. Not even if I sell my house. And I suspect most geeks don't either. The question is, to be a bit blunt, rather stupid.

      What if you would get $200k tax free like in a lottery plus the opportunity to book a ticket now?! I would travel around the world first or pay my mortgage. However if I would have $2m to spend, that's another case. So even if I have the money, it totally depends on the amount that's left afterwards.

  • So many people say they want to go, but I find it amusing that of the handful of space tourists since 2001, very few have written inspiring books or stories about it. A quick check of Wikipedia seems to indicate only Guy Laliberté (flew in 2009) as authoring something about his experiences.

    If going to space is so great, why haven't the few who've gone written more about it?
    • by ganjadude (952775)
      Most likely because not everyone is an author or has any interest in being one. I Have done a few amazing things in my life over the years, not to the level of going to space, but even if I did I wouldnt write a book about it either.
    • by CountZer0 (60549)

      Because there isn't a vary large overlap between 'space tourist' and 'author'?

    • by kimvette (919543)

      Out of the millions who visit Israel, Rome, Sicily, Cairo, what percentage of those tourists write books about it? The percentage is lower than that of space tourists, so obviously those places cannot be that great. ;)

      If I had the financial means I'd go - I'd shoot a lot and post photos of both the cosmos and the Earth online, but I would be very unlikely to write a book about it. Personally, I'd rather see what the heavens really look like from space in properly-exposed photographs (by properly-exposed,

      • Thank god there's not the equivalent of Jerusalem syndrome for space travelers!
        Strike that, that would be funny as hell!
    • Because being a space tourist means only that you have enough money to pay someone 7 figures to ferry you somewhere. There is no skill involved outside of remembering your bank account number. And nobody wants to read about that.

      Now, if they would actually DO something in space? Well, that would be something to write about. Otherwise, it would be as fascinating a read as someone's exploits at the Sandals in Jamaica: "Laid on the beach. Had a drink. Went to eat and drink more. Slept. Got sunburned. Repeated

  • As a flight attendant.
  • by Infiniti2000 (1720222) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @01:09PM (#43592267)
    In 50 years, 200K might be cheap for a Galactic Virgin.
    • by tekrat (242117)

      Not according to "Taken".
      If I recall correctly, if you know the right people, $100,000 can get you a young hot chick.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hky7wN2QGko [youtube.com]

    Alternatively...they could offer "Natalie Portman" service, naked and petrified.
    Oh yeah, with hot grits...of course
    In zero G.

    For two weeks.

    Sorry, gotta go and lie down on my lawn now.

  • In a world of climate change and rising temperatures I can't help but wonder: What is the carbon/energy footprint of a single ticket? To speak nothing of the total impact if this "business"? It look to me like Virgin Galactic and its customers are likely to be the absolute worst polluters on the planet ...

    Would they be so eager to go into space for fun if they had to pay the actual environmental cost as well? Allowing it for science is one thing ... doing it solely for entertainment is another!

    - Jesper

    • by WoOS (28173)

      Yes, indeed. From a very interesting article at NASA [nasa-usa.de]:

      Travelling from the surface of Earth to Earth orbit is one of the most energy intensive steps of going anywhere else. This first step, about 400 kilometers away from Earth, requires half of the total energy needed to go to the surface of Mars

      It also mentions the mass to fuel ratio into earth orbit for the Saturn V was 4% whereas for the Space Shuttle (due to its heavy reusable reentry vehicle) it was only 1%.

      Sorry to say it, but humankind cannot afford tourism into space until we have a space elevator.

  • Assuming the cost is on the same scale, would you pay a few hundred grand for a few weeks in orbit?

    If the cost were that low, and I had the money somehow, I'd love to spend it on a few weeks in orbit. However, recognizing how much harder it is to get into orbit than to just go straight up, I have strong doubts that costs won't be a factor of 10 or 100 higher. Also, since it's already taken more than twice as long as originally projected for this thing to be ready, I wouldn't expect anything orbital before 2020 or so.

  • I have to really wonder who will build this vision. While Scaled Composites is an innovative company, it's leader isn't exactly a spring chicken. Rutan is almost 70 [wikipedia.org] and while I know he has bright people working with him, without Burt this thing will go nowhere.

    It's also been almost 9 years since they won the X-Prize so IMO, if they're not flying the public by 2014 (end of) this will be a venture that Branson and Rutan won't be seeing anytime soon.

  • by WrongMonkey (1027334) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:20PM (#43593617)
    What is the obsession with space tourism? Get a decent monitor and zoom out on Google Earth while riding a roller-coaster. Same experience. Why not guided tours of the ocean depths instead? There actually is "alien" life down there.
    • by bkmoore (1910118)
      The appeal is because most normal people cannot get there. If it were as easily accessible as say, the deep sea or Mount Everest, it would still be exclusive, but would loose a lot of its appeal. Psychologists probably have a term for this.
  • Go to a space hotel with centripetal "gravity" and 5 star food? Yeah I'm up for that.

    But what I want in the short term is a fast transcontinental flight.

When all else fails, read the instructions.

Working...