Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Species of apes leave their atmosphere using private enterprise!

by Edwin Hesselthwite

Offering free advertising to a multi-million dollar private company isn’t something we at LMWN would usually engage in. But Virgin Galactic is not a normal private company.

The X-Prize was a wet dream for technologist libertarians, and there is more than one LMWN contributor who fits into that bracket – reading too much Larry Niven and Robert Heinlein in your youth can be bad for your sanity – but since the X-Prize was won by Scaled Composites there has been disturbingly little coverage in the media. No movie of Burt Rutan’s life story? No authorised biography on the shelves of every Waterstones? This story has blockbuster written all over it. I lay the blame firmly at NASA for this, I suspect a man at Time Warner had this proposal cross his desk and suggested “This isn’t all a bit 1972 is it? Hasn’t this all been done?” Yes, that great Pork Barrel organisation was there before, and they built the Winnebago of the skies to follow up, the glorious shuttle - 115 flights in total, 2 catastrophic failures, a wonder of American Engineering.

But struggling onwards with the project we have Richard Branson, the anti-Tony Blair. Yes, he’s privileged. Yes, He is a snob. But he’s investing a serious pile of money in organising the first viable space tourism industry! I'd prefer that legacy to injecting competition into the monolithic NHS, Tony. According to the Wiki article, It looks like the insurance issue, which has always been my biggest concern, is not yet resolved - if one of these fell out of the sky it could be devastating. Lloyds of London brokers have been approached to cover this potentiality, but early tourists will be going at their own risk. This is the way it should be, and I for one would take that chance.

In design terms the VG website is very sexy. Spaceshipone is a beautiful vehicle, very light and airy, so they have slapped pictures of it all over the page. The blue iris is also pretty good logo, and the Ring of Saturn/grey scale design is all very professional. Doesn't look like they update these pages very often, but I hope that means their work is being done elsewhere.

So – To Richard and Burt – I hope they build statues for you in Washington and London... LMWN offers you its support.

1 comment:

Charles Pooter said...

Lets hope it leads to great things!