Commercial space flight take priority over moon

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People manned space flight is dying. It has been almost 50 years since the beginning of manned space flight, and look at where we are today. There is less money and interest in manned space flight than there was decades ago. Who would of thought that 50 years after putting the first man in space this is where we would b.

The problem with human space is that despite the hundreds of billions of dollars put into it over many years it is still seen as only a symbol of national prestige. There is no commercial or industrial applications for it. It is seem as something that is cool to do, but lacks any real application. That is why HSF is only done by a few governments. It is not that many other countries do not have the technology or the money.

Honestly who cares if we build a moon base? Who cares if we go to Mars? While those might be great technical achievements, just like everything else all of NASAs other HSF projects, including Apollo, the shuttle, and the ISS, there will be a brief wow factor, then the program will be cancelled for something else. Without a real business case there will be no industry growth, no economic exploitation of space, and no colonization. As long as the enterprise is a new economic loss than no businesses will invest in it, few countries will invest in it, and it will only be seen as a stunt.

In order to HSF to grow and become more common place, in order for colonization to occur people have to find a reason other than national prestige in order to send humans into space. It is just like when Europe colonized the new world. It was the potential for making profits that drew people to America. The economic opportunity in a new land is what drove development. If space tourism takes off people will see that HSF can be profitable. The prospect of making money will drive them to develop HSF.

In a sense this has already occurred. The Russian Space Agency already proved that it can be done. They have taken several people to the international space station for a few tens of millions of dollars. Now several business are investing in a space tourist industry, but the industry is still in its infancy and could use help from the government.

Honestly if we can get a commercial HSF industry going then it will be a far greater achievement than going to the moon or mars. It will secure a large amount of private investment. It will build support for HSF by allowing private individuals to experience space and it will show people that space is the future. Just as with computers, cell phones, and airlines, companies will focus on making the technology more reliable and more affordable. That is why I support Obama's decision to scrap Constellation and put that money into commercial HSF.


I made a similar comment over here:


I fail to understand why more people aren't excited about what's going to happen in LEO and maybe Cis-lunar over the next 10 years. This is very significant! I know this will undoubtedly impact many NASA employees and disorientate those of the public who can only visualise one form of human spaceflight, a traditional government-led manned spaceflight program... but that was yesterday's modus operandii and all we've got to show for that is ISS; times have moved on.

Over the next years, Virgin Galactic/Scaled, SpaceX, Bigelow Aerospace, ULA will likely open up space to the masses. Allow Joe Public to see what space looks and feels like (in fact I think that starts next year! :shock: ), provide space taxi services to scientists visiting ISS and fly tourists to space hotels that will probably end up dwarfing the habitable volume of ISS! All while NASA develops the technologies that enables robust, faster, cheaper and more advanced human exploration of Mars and NEOs.

This is progress for all, not just the few and I for one will be keeping a close eye on the efforts of Burt Rutan/Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Bigelow et al. These are the new faces of space and this is the new human spaceflight program.

ps. I've just noticed that James Cameron has bought into this new plan: ... inionsbox1


Now lets see James Cameron take his Billions and invest in SpaceX. ;)


I wouldn't put any money on Burt Rutan or anyone at Virgin Galactic going orbital or translunar anytime soon. As mentioned by Richard Branson at around the time of the SS2 unveiling, Virgin Galactic has suspended all work on SS3 being an orbital vehicle. Virgin Galactic is now designing SS3 to be a suborbital point to point vehicle, allowing travel between tokyo and london in several hours. This is a smart business move as now with the new NASA mission to allow commercial, there will a glut of private companies investing in orbital space, including ULA, Boeing, Spacex, Orbital Sciences to name a few. Charting a suborbital course may just be the ticket considering there is alot more people who will travel point to point than in orbit.


It would be great if suborbital takes off. If a single stage horizontal takeoff and landing craft was a real commercial success this could be a great starting point for a reusable two-stage to orbit.

I am hoping that the moon is not dead though. There is money in the budget for robotic precursor missions to the moon, there are prizes for lunar landers, there is money for ISRU demonstrations such as lunar oxygen extraction.

I am hoping that if we put these together we can get a growing, robotic colony with a significant commercial component. The problem with a pure science justification is that once you have learnt what there is to learn, the infrastructure is abandoned. If your motivation is also to learn to build and exploit the resources there, your lunar landing technology has an ongoing motivation to keep improving.

There is a lot you can do with a robotic colony but it is absolutely not about negating the reasons to send people. Rather, it will create reasons. It will create safety through practicing our lunar landing and an in-place infrastructure with insitu oxygen and power production. it will create interest because everything the robots build or visit on the moon, we know it is plausible for humans to visit and soon, especially if commercial LEO business is busily promoting itself. It will create an obvious reason for people to be there, (a) because robots need maintaining and (b) the 3-second lag to the moon, though far better than mars, will mean that a teleoperator on the moon will be far more productive than one on earth.


mr_mark":2yrjyyep said:
I wouldn't put any money on Burt Rutan or anyone at Virgin Galactic going orbital or translunar anytime soon.
To be honest, I probably find what VG are doing more exciting than SpaceX or even NASA are doing now. I think the reason is that space tourism connects better with people. Take suborbital - its relatively attainable/affordable. Anyone can go and see curvature of the earth and feel space. It just brings the dream of a spacefaring nation closer to the people. During the first successful flight of spaceshipone climbing out into the blackness of space with someone who wasn't an astronaut was absolutely awesome, it felt like you were part of the ride! Whereas your average space shuttle flight or ISS crew mission these days can seem distant and disconnected from mine and your reality, perhaps more difficult to relate to. So I think what VG are doing is very important, very relevant, and very exciting to the masses moreso than Orbital, SpaceX, ULA etc. Suborbital is just cooooool!! :)


Commercial aerospace is not about achieving lower costs by selling the physical product and outsourcing the production-process to other nations, but it is all about providing services (for example space launch) to governments, companies and individuals at lower costs by competition and new ideas. Several months ago I read an article about Scaled Composites (Spaceshipone & two). They had to ask approval from the US government before they could buy and use technology of other aerospace companies and I assume the backgrounds of all its personnel were also screened. They were also not allowed to pass this technology on to others, which means there’s a major difference with other kinds of commercial business: Aerospace technology belongs to the interest of national security and can not be sold or passed on to others without governments’ approval (even between American companies). That is a major advantage of commercial aerospace: aerospace companies could provide commercial services, but the technology can not be exported or outsourced to other nations. In other words we could generate growing profits and investments with commercial aerospace and protect the research, the technology and the jobs at the same time (even if we decide to export the services). I do agree that at the moment commercial aerospace is too much confined to the market of launching of satellites. That’s why we also need space tourism for the masses starting in LEO and later on the moon and mars. First we need more investments to develop fuel-efficient jet-engines, rocket engines (whether it is air-breathing, non-breathing and hybrid) and cheaper/lighter (inflatable?) space modules in order to reduce the cost of (manned/unmanned) space launch and space stations at least 20 times or more. Maybe we do need the Orion rocket as a back-up plan to replace the Space Shuttle in case commercial aerospace will not deliver its promise in time, but I do think that in the near future the commercial aeroplane industry/infrastructure will merge with the commercial aerospace industry*. I fear if we focus too much on the moon-mission or space-station “old-style” and we do not develop this option we could lose both the commercial airplane and aerospace market to other nations in the future. (That is why America and EU have to make agreements not to outsource the production-line of the airplane industry to other nations and should decide to develop this option together). Not commercially exploiting this option would also diminish our possibilities to develop an economic viable plan to colonize LEO (Low Earth Orbit), the moon and mars. The space industry at the moment is too depended on government budget and policy for developing affordable LEO space-launch, “spaceports” and space colonization. We need to allow the aerospace industry to develop commercial services to generate profits, investments and research without selling and outsourcing the technology. The only thing the government should do is to support the commercial aerospace and keeping an eye on whether the technology doesn’t fall in the wrong hands.

*Scaled Composites for example is already planning to transport people to different continents in “no-time”. Their long term vision is to reduce the launch-costs by using more simple technology, logistics, infrastructure and fuel-efficiency (airlift, decreased air-resistance, air-breathing and air-pressure compensation) by combining future fuel-efficient airplanes and rockets to launch satellites and “space-tourists” into LEO (with the possibility to dock to different “spaceports”) at significantly lower costs.


I would like to see a link about SS3 status.

Bigelow Aerospace is going into the space real estate market. So that's different than providing services to space. Its providing services in space. LOL!

The US laws about keeping the space technology in the US is so antiquated and dumb. And its probably why ESA's ATV service module is based on Soyuz technology, as well as China's space tech. Plus global business could probably run circles around the law.
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