[FPSPACE] Spaceflight is a dangerous business

Robert Pearlman robert at collectspace.com
Sat Nov 1 14:16:21 EDT 2014


Richard Branson said today:

"We have had numerous messages of support from the people, the astronauts who have signed up to go with us. We even had somebody sign up yesterday in support of the program." 

"They've been patient to date. I think most of them will be patient longer. We may lose one or two, but it doesn't look like it." 

"Of course, anybody who ever wants a refund would be able to get a refund. We haven't used the money, we always decided it was best not to use the money. It just gave us the confidence to do the program knowing these people were so committed."

He was also very clear that the program will only continue if a safe way forward can be identified.

"We owe it to our test pilots to find out exactly what went wrong, and once we've found out what went wrong, if we can overcome it we'll make absolutely certain the dream lives on."

On Nov 1, 2014, at 11:33 AM, Dominic Phelan wrote:

> Although I do have some respect for those passengers with a proven track record when it comes to an interest in spaceflight (Tom Hanks, James Cameron, Richard Branson and yourself Robert), I'm afraid Virgin's courting of the VIP market might actually have harmed space tourism in the short-term. I can't wait to see how many of those 800 have their reservations cancelled by their PR companies...
> 
>  
> > Subject: Re: [FPSPACE] Spaceflight is a dangerous business
> > From: robert at collectspace.com
> > Date: Sat, 1 Nov 2014 11:12:19 -0500
> > CC: dominic_phelan at hotmail.com; fpspace at friends-partners.org
> > To: dsfportree at hotmail.com
> > 
> > If both of you really believe that the majority of the 800+ people who have paid for seats on SpaceShipTwo are either celebrities or naive (or both), you need to better familiarize yourself with the adventure travel market. 
> > 
> > You needn't be a daredevil with a death wish to sign up for an inherently risky activity. Nor does celebrity-status equate to being naive. Or do you think James Cameron was naive when he made his record-solo deep sea dive? Certainly he had a very real chance of dying on that venture.
> > 
> > I came very close to buying a ticket on Virgin Galactic a couple of years ago, and it wasn't safety concerns that ultimately delayed that reservation. I also wasn't naive about the real chance that I could die on the eventual flight, had I gone forward.
> > 
> > - Robert
> > 
> > ---
> > Robert Pearlman, Editor
> > collectSPACE - The Source for Space History & Artifacts
> > www.collectSPACE.com
> > Twitter: @robertpearlman | @collectSPACE
> > Facebook: http://facebook.com/collectSPACE
> > 
> > 
> > On Nov 1, 2014, at 10:49 AM, David Portree wrote:
> > 
> > > Dominic:
> > > 
> > > Yes! That is exactly correct. And it's not only celebrities who are naive. All these people who want to go one-way to Mars - yikes! (Tho I have to say in that case that I think - or perhaps vainly hope - that most who have signed up have done so not because they really think that they can go to live on Mars right now, but rather as a way of proclaiming their support for our future off the Earth.)
> > > 
> > > dsfp
> > > 
> > > David S. F. Portree
> > > author and stuff
> > > 
> > > Email:
> > > dsfportree at hotmail.com
> > > dportree at usgs.gov
> > > 
> > > Profile:
> > > http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/people/david-portree
> > > 
> > > Blogs:
> > > http://www.wired.com/category/beyondapollo/
> > > http://theportreelibrary.blogspot.com/
> > > 
> > > From: dominic_phelan at hotmail.com
> > > To: fpspace at friends-partners.org
> > > Date: Sat, 1 Nov 2014 15:38:45 +0000
> > > Subject: Re: [FPSPACE] Spaceflight is a dangerous business
> > > 
> > > I'm just glad this "accident waiting to happen" took place during a test flight. Apart from the fact that the design is now showing itself to be fundamentally flawed - changing the rocket fuel this late smacks of desperation - a later crash would only have killed six passengers who naively believed their celebrity status protected them from the realities of spaceflight.
> > > 
> > > Dominic
> > > 
> > > 
> > >> Date: Sat, 1 Nov 2014 13:58:52 +0100
> > >> From: dokter.nuyens at telenet.be
> > >> To: fpspace at friends-partners.org; dsfportree at hotmail.com
> > >> Subject: [FPSPACE] Spaceflight is a dangerous business
> > >> 
> > >> David Portree wrote:
> > >> 
> > >>> Absolutely, but spaceflight can be made safer through good design. The more boring a design is, the safer it tends to be. Novel concepts invite catastrophe. SpaceShip Two is pretty, but its design and operational characteristics are complex.
> > >>> The Space Shuttle was also a novel design. We hyped it& spun it and eventually Challenger forced us to face the bald fact that it was so complex and contained so many design compromises that flying it could never be routine.
> > >>> Some people have developed the peculiar notion that, because inexperienced private entities are developing spacecraft, often with novel features, the hard facts of spaceflight do not and will not apply. My hope is that this week's twin accidents will serve as a wake-up call.
> > >>> It's not enough to say "spaceflight is dangerous." What we need to say is "spaceflight is dangerous - so are our designs and schemes realistic?"
> > >> 
> > >> David,
> > >> 
> > >> What do you want us to do? Use the same old stuff over and over again 
> > >> being afraid of developing something new? And yes,everybody agrees the 
> > >> shuttle was not up to its expectations because the way it was build was 
> > >> too complex and dangerous. But it was mainly political bickering that 
> > >> got us the shuttle that was.
> > >> Developing something new takes time,money and knowhow but if we really 
> > >> want to go somewhere in space in this century, that's the way to go. 
> > >> Will there be accidents-sure there will be. After more than a century 
> > >> there are still plane crashes and car accidents.
> > >> Spaceflight IS a dangerous business-yes. We don't have to stop doing it 
> > >> because of that.
> > >> 
> > >> Zeger
> > >> 
> > >> _______________________________________________
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> > > 
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