SpaceShipTwo: Much More Than Just a Roller Coaster for the Rich

Friday’s tragedy in the stratosphere above the Mojave Spaceport in California, and the previous week’s dramatic unmanned rocket explosion at NASA’s Wallops Island launch facility in Virginia, are stark, related reminders that getting to space is hard.

If getting to space were routine, if it were as easy as, say, boarding a transcontinental flight is today, then we’d have the colonies on the Moon and mining crews on asteroids and geologic field trips to Mars that I imagined, in my youth, would be ubiquitous by now. But it’s not easy; it is hard. In fact, it’s unnatural; why fight the strong gravity field of our home world and leave its nurturing atmospheric cocoon just to get to any number of other nearby or faraway hostile, unforgiving environments in which we clearly do not belong? Why do we have to go? Can’t we just send robots?

Everyone who has ever had even an ounce of curiosity or the merest inkling of wonder knows the answer: We have to go; we have to explore. We are compelled, as a species, and as individuals, to act upon a manifest destiny that we begin to feel in our bones at —> Read More Here


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