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"The damage to the space tourism industry will only be in the short term, it is clear to everyone that there is a risk in technological developments"

This is what Dr. Omri Vandel from the Rakah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University says in an interview with the website Hidan following the crash of Virgin Galactic's Spaceship-2 spacecraft.

Richard Branson is practicing flying Spaceship-2. From the Virgin Galactic website
Richard Branson is practicing flying Spaceship-2. From the Virgin Galactic website

The damage to the space tourism industry will only be in the short term, says Dr. Omri Vandel from the Rakah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University in an interview with the website Hidan following the crash of Virgin Galactic's Spaceship-2 spacecraft last Friday.

"Hope didn't crash, these things happen. The rosy picture presented at the beginning made us forget that this is a significant move with quite a few risks. It's a matter of time until the first ship reaches space, and it's also a matter of time until one of these crashes."

In response to the question of the science site, whether this will affect the ability of Branson and some competitors less famous than him to return to space tourism activities, Wendel says: "I don't think it will have any more impact than it did for much more difficult events such as the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters. The only fallout is a short-term fallout. It is likely that some of the people who wanted to fly will cancel their reservation, but many will be willing to take the risk despite what happened."

In the same topic on the science website:


"Everyone knows that in technological development there are disasters. As soon as it is a flight, and millionaires are involved in it, it could be expected that it is not a smooth process because they develop innovative techniques under time pressure. It should be remembered that Virgin Galactic has postponed the first commercial launch date many times. In light of this, it is certain that there is pressure on the developers at the company to reach the finished product, just as at the time there was pressure to launch the Challenger and they did not wait for suitable weather and this was the direct cause of the accident. This time the cause of the accident is not known. There are speculations, but the reason will become clear and the company will announce that it will take care of the root of the expression and it will not repeat itself, the effect will be small."

Will public opinion be open to such flights after the disaster?

"From a social point of view, there will always be those who will say that it is unethical, and it is not fair for people who have money to invest it in the narrow private interest and not to contribute to higher goals or even to other areas of space exploration. This is the nature of the capitalist economy - those who have money do what they want with it. Flying in a spaceship is no more or less legitimate than maintaining a cruise ship, but this is something new."

The scientist: The flights offered by Virgin are suborbital, that is, takeoff and descent, there are companies that are developing flights to orbit, including hotels in space, how will the accident affect them?

Prof. Wendel: "On flights for a few minutes, the passengers get a taste of space, they can't even see the whole earth from above because the height is not enough. It's quite similar to what the shuttle pilots saw and crew members on the International Space Station see today, except for the duration. Hotels in space are perhaps an issue for the distant future. The technology for a suborbital space plane is within reach, more significant flights - to orbit around the Earth and certainly beyond it, will be much more expensive and therefore only a few people will be able to afford it. But this does not always deter people, it is a fact that there are people who sign up and compete to reach Mars without the possibility of returning from there. There are enough people with different ambitions and there will always be those who will agree to embark on a one-way journey. Even though 99% will not agree to fly into space, and the remaining 99% will not agree to fly on a one-way flight, there are sure to be volunteers.

Indeed, how about the Mars One project offering a one-way flight?

"As a scientist, I think the project is quite unnecessary because everything we know about Mars we can obtain using unmanned spacecraft and we have been doing this for 50 years. The main thing that has not yet been done was the return of a soil sample from Mars to Earth so that it can be analyzed and there is also a plan for the next few years, which has been postponed due to budgetary considerations and is currently intended for 2020 with the existing technology. To do the same operation with humans: a manned flight to Mars and the safe return of the astronauts is a much more expensive matter, around a trillion dollars. They could if they wanted to establish colonies on the moon, which is much easier to establish a supply network to. If someone undertakes such a mission, his motive will be first and foremost political prestige like the race to the moon. Not because of scientific necessity.

4 תגובות

  1. The elevator will not be built from the bottom up - but from the top down, exactly according to the vision of the pale tracker in the "Cafeteria in Tiberias". For this, it is necessary to raise a number of things, and accumulate space technology and means that are sufficient to at least transport a medium-sized asteroid into orbit around the Earth, and to produce from it a cable 50 thousand kilometers long and another small space station (small in New York City terms, yes?).

  2. "Simple and short and to the point", wow Meir, you're really a genius... I suggest you read a little about the subject, it's anything but simple and short (this is not an elevator in a building, the engineering and technological challenges here are much greater, and to the best of my memory some of them are still not solvable with the existing technology)

  3. Awwww really ….. maybe you will get some sense and build a huge elevator to space and put the spacecrafts on it and then when they reach the edge of the atmosphere they will detach and tour space a bit, fill up with the batteries of the international space station, etc., etc. And then when they finish they will come back to the elevator to do docking and return to Earth....simple and short and to the point.... Instead of getting involved with huge amounts of ray fuel, it is clear that the existing technology does not allow us to make star trek style spaceships, so for now the elevator is the most ideal...

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