To New Mexico and Beyond!
I’ll give you readers a respite from the usual IT analyses to talk about a subject I know is near and dear to so many of your hearts: outer space. In the past few years, some serious developments have taken place in the private sector with regards to space exploration. It seems like the X Prize—a multi-million dollar reward set up for anyone who could successfully conduct two consecutive trips into space within a short time span—was handed out just a couple of weeks ago. Time sure flies (pun intended).
The latest news on private space travel was the announcement of the world’s first spaceport, which will be constructed in New Mexico. The $225 million project is being financed by Virgin Galactic, part of the consortium of companies controlled by Richard Branson, who is regarded as both an adventurer of sorts and a very, very rich man. The first flights from this station, which will cost $200,000 per seat, are scheduled to take place by early 2009. According to news reports, approximately 38,000 people have put down a deposit on their seat. It seems the space tourism business is already booming, even before it’s actually commenced.
Can’t pay out that kind of scratch yet? That’s the great thing about private enterprise. Eventually, those costs will come down, and space travel will one day (perhaps as soon as a decade from now) be accessible and affordable to the masses. The idea of a New York-to-New Delhi or Chicago-to-Sydney flight that takes under two hours but goes high enough in altitude to offer views of the curvature of the earth seems like a over-the-top sci-fi fantasy, but it’s a scenario that could easily be realized in our lifetimes. So keep up the good work, Mr. Branson. Your project will make a lot of geeks out there very happy.