What Does It Herald For Commercial Space Tourism?
On October 31st 2014, everyone who could afford the $250,000 ticket to tour space and even those who could not afford it, waited with bated breath to see how SpaceShipTwo would perform on its test flight.
If the flight was successful, it meant those who had the spare cash for the ticket would be one step closer to achieving their dream of touring space.
Their ride would be aboard Richard Branson’s much publicized SpaceShipTwo.
Test Flight at Mojave Dessert California
At 10.30 am, the spacecraft took off from Mojave Desert in California and soared into the sky along with its mothership, WhiteKnightTwo.
However, about 40 minutes later, immediately after they separated, three was a serious anomaly and SpaceShipTwo broke up at an altitude of 45,000 feet.
Test pilot Siebold parachuted out and landed safely although he was seriously injured but Michael Tyner Alsbery, the second test pilot was not so lucky.
Investigators are not sure yet whether he managed to eject the parachute but died on the way down or whether he did not manage to eject at all.
Commercial Space Tourism on Hold
The crash was a huge set back to Richard Branson’s commercial tourism venture with a lot of discussions going back and forth about the implications of this disaster.
Does this spell the end of commercial space tourism or would it continue? Is it worth endangering more lives?
Should the project be abandoned as the mere whim of a rich entrepreneur or should it be seen as a commendable attempt to break the frontiers of space?
According to Mr. Branson, he would absolutely like to continue with the space tourism project but only if engineers are able to first identify what went wrong and caused the fatal accident and secondly if they are able to find a proven way to overcome the main cause of the accident.
Nobody is yet sure how much it would cost or how long it would take. It all depends on what the investigation turns up.