Monday, June 7, 2010

An Age of Private Space has begun... just as another ended

private space. for many a long year this had only one meaning to us humble creatures. the little bubble we liked, the place we could talk to friends about anything we wanted. safety, security, privacy - perhaps even the very nature of individual and personal identity. As time has worn on and language and sciences have evolved, Private Space now means commercialized orbital and exoplanetary technology and related processes. SPACEX launched their first serious orbital test flight in the recent past and now the floodgates are open... errr, sort of.

In 2004 VIRGIN GALACTIC won the ansari X prize as the first private outfit to successfully launch humans into LEO and return them safely to earth. Since this glorious, sunny day the private space business has gone into 'eyes only, at the right time' mode real fast. We have hardly heard a peep from SC/Virgin crew for nearly 10 years. We dont expect too much in the next 12 or 24 months from the current media and official positioning of both the company and the governement.

Nevertheless the Obama space budget is something to consider. When the shuttle (sadly) retires in a few months America will be looking hard at available alternatives. Now I dont want to rain on Mr. Musks parade, he was a gem in Ironman2, I think he should leave the human element to a company that can afford to focus on providing the comfortable and luxurious accoutrement that travellers preferr. I have seen clips of the dragon module, and while efficent, it has NOTHING on the VIRGIN clips of their LEO vehicle. Virgin has long experience in Arilines and luxury safari, etc, Mr. Musk should try to focus on and provide what is really needed, a revolution in heavy-lift vehicles.

VIRGIN GALACTIC = human cargo
SPACEX = heavy cargo

I think this should be the basic plan for the first few years. Obviously as the technology grows and competetion for efficency and profits intensifies these monopolistic endeavours will have to subside, but it would still be wise for virgin to try to be the 'big boys' (airliners) and leave the personal units (one or two man spacecraft) to independent enterprise.

Al this aside we are definately looking at the serious dawn of a unified planetary system. The space stations and craft all need to be able to maintain stable communications around the globe at all times. Personal identification and location need to be easily accessible in order to approve and tract extra-planetary travellers and craft (space pirates are always a danger). so we see that there is some real relationship we do not yet understand between exoplanetary activities and one world government and a surrender of certain liberties... but then most of those liberties are already being stripped away day by day with no remuneration for the people, no invitation to a new frontier and new opportunities.

As our species sets about the business of exploring and 'conquering' the solar system, the question aptly becomes; what will happen to our sacred private space? Will it be sequestered away in memory and future illegalities ? Who will be the Fred Rogers of future advocates on behalf of our right to own our very lives and thoughts, to choose our own paths, do be free. Never mind shady beta-max copies of other peoples ideas in VHS that no one even looks at anymore.

Is information free ? Is space open ? Who owns planets we have not visited yet ? If I get there first, do I own it ? If I do, I will make it my private space. ;)

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