Hey did anyone say "Go USA", this is a great achievment, and I can only say at least we have a wealthy individual doing something risky at the expense of creating a profit down the road from the investment. Where is BG and WB in the equation of wealth but not filling the gaps in way-out technology development. Compare and contrast give some credit here!
Many people died in the early days of the motor industry (and still do!) and the aforementioned parliament acts were all designed to prevent that. I was really struck by the fear factor of cars in the early days of the industry. In the same way, I think ultimately, we will conquer our fear and go for it in space. Whether this is it, or we will have to wait a bit longer is another matter....
Space travel is an entirely different and deadly game. We have cited critics who warn that SpaceX hasn't blown up enough rockets to know if it can safely carry humans to orbit. Other commercial space companies have an even bigger problem since their entire business model is based on space tourism. Someone is eventually going to be killed by a commercial space vendor, and the question is whether the industry can survive and move on. If you choose to spend a $1M for a suborbital flight, for example, you must acknowledge before leaving the ground that space travel is risky and you stand a decent chance of being killed.
NASA has never built rockets or spacecraft. It has always relied on American aerospace companies to build these machines. Our "silly political system" is now attempting to create some competition in a new commercial space industry. Lockheed Martin and Boeing are pioneers in this industry, and now they have competitors.
We'd prefer to focus on the company and the technology as opposed to the SpaceX CEO, who is currently a media darling. Say what you want about Elon Musk, but so far he has done, as the Apollo astronauts used to say, "what we said we were going to do."
Space travel to low Earth orbit, while still dangerous, is well understood. It does not push the state of the art. The U.S. space shuttle worked well, but it was an extremely complex, expensive machine built under the old "cost-plus" contract approach. Those days are over. It's time for NASA to focus on "going somewhere" in space and leave relatively routine tasks like space station flights to qualified commercial space companies. So far, SpaceX is the most qualified given what they have accomplished, not merely what they have promised.
In the 19th century, there were a series of parliamant acts in the UK to restrict/control the use of motor cars on British roads, because of safety concerns. In one of these acts, cars were restricted to travel at a maximum of 4 mph in the countryside and 2 mph in towns, and have a person walking ahead of the car, carrying a red flag to warn off pedestrians :-) Some say these acts held back the progress of British car industry for decades, allowing the Germans in particular to gain a considerable lead.
Safety concerns in space missions are real and I do personally share them, but if history is anything to go by, these concerns will probably look ridiculous in 50-60 years. Wish these folks the very best of luck!
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.