The Granddaddy of Space Colonization?

Discover Magazine spoke to Burt Rutan about his inspiration for SpaceShipOne and what SpaceShipTwo passengers can expect to get for their money.  Here are some of the interesting questions and answers:

What will a trip in SpaceShipTwo be like for a passenger?
Well, my job is not going to be running a spaceline or selling tickets or flying. My job is to build a spaceship that is affordable and safe enough to fly the public. We are working very hard to optimize the experience, because if you don’t give people the best experience, they will go somewhere else for their spaceflight.  Some of the things we have talked about are that the ships will be large with large windows. It will be a large cabin. The details on how that’s done we will be proving in test flights. I wouldn’t be surprised if at that time we discovered other features that would add to the experience.

How will private spaceflight succeed as an industry?
Not by making [private] spaceflight twice as safe as government spaceflight, or 10 times as safe, but 100 or 600 times as safe. By 1931, after a few years’ experience of flying scheduled airlines, those planes were operating at roughly 600 times the safety of the space shuttle. I look at safety not in terms of fatalities per passenger-mile, but when you get in and close the door, what is the risk Image descriptionImage descriptionof dying on this flight? In 1931, for commercial airlines the risk was 1 in 33,000. For manned spacecraft it has been about 1 in 70. I believe that to have an expanding business that won’t be hindered by people’s fear of flying you have to be as safe as the airliners.

What will spaceflight look like a century from now?
A century is a relatively short period of time. Let me stick my neck out a little bit further and say that in 300 or 400 years, a large majority of people will go to a planet and not return back to the Earth. We will colonize. Lewis and Clark went out and back. But most of the people who followed them went to California and stayed there. In a hundred years, I believe you will see such an enormous reduction in the costs of transportation around our solar system that there will be a lot of travel. I’d like to see affordable transportation into space in my lifetime.

Read the whole thing here.  Good stuff.


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