Something that really struck a cord with me was the news about Virgin Galactic’s failure of their SpaceShip2. The story itself is really tragic, and ended with the death of one of the pilots. There is a lot of speculation on what exactly went wrong, but that doesn’t matter. In the end, pioneering this new field of Space Tourism will continue to be inherently dangerous. Should they continue with this work though?
A gut reaction is to say “no, they should obviously stop with this because it’s too dangerous.” But Virgin Galactic remains undeterred, and will in fact continue forward with their company. Personally, I agree that they should continue as well. Space travel being dangerous is nothing new. In fact, earlier last week saw another spaceship malfunction too, which was luckily unmanned but still could just have easily ended in tragedy and ended up costing millions. NASA, of course, will continue their work despite the loss of the scientific equipment and resources.
Commercial space flight seems extremely dangerous, but it’s far too simple to forget that commercial airline flights took years of trail and error as well to get to safe standards. Even then, there are still unfortunately accidents involved with there flights, as pioneering commercial flights took plenty of years of persistence and unfortunately there were good pilots lost to reach the formula to what we have today. The same principle applies to the automotive industry, as accidents were a regular occurrence when cars first appeared and there were many civilian casualties in the process.
The fact that this sounds cold isn’t lost on me, but hear me out. Virgin Galactic is on the forefront of this industry and truly pioneering what’s to be expected in the future. Science fiction stories have romanticized what space travel could look like centuries away, but we have many years until we reach that point – if we ever in fact reach it. We are going to have to put up with the grim reality that if we seriously want to take a stab at making space tourism and commercial space flight viable, there are bound to be more casualties. Is it worth it? It may be a tough pill to swallow and face, but throughout history there’s always a tough road with tragedies, but in order to make progress it’s sometimes necessary.
I’m very curious to hear your opinions on this matter, both from a personal perspective and from an entrepreneurial point of view. Should Virgin Galactic continue with this endeavour?