posted at 18:50
Author: Chris Taylor
Space travel is dangerous. There will be no tourists.
What we do know, and what Friday's tragedy reminds us, is this: Space flight is inherently dangerous. Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic's owner, has repeatedly stated that space tourism needs to be as safe as commercial flight from the get-go. Lulled into a false sense of security by jet travel, we have come to assume space tourism will be much the same - just a shorter flight, a pricier ticket, and more in the way of weightlessness. Everyone who boards a Virgin Galactic flight, whenever such a thing happens, will be a space pioneer - and they'll assume all the risks that all pioneers in previous centuries did. Even a short flight up to the border of space, officially defined as 62 miles up, will subject passengers to all sorts of dangers we don't fully understand yet, such as ionizing radiation. "The frontier of space is far from tamed," wrote the National Space Society in an open letter to Virgin Galactic Friday. White Knight lazily described circles in the air, delivering its cargo to the right height, and I found myself caught up in the airy notion that space flight was going to be quite civilized. One day in the distant future, hopefully in our lifetimes, space flight will become as routine as commercial air travel.

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