update: space travel still risky

Cosmos 1, the solar-sail probe launched yesterday by the “Planetary Society”:http://www.planetary.org/, has apparently “failed on launch”:http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/northern_california/11958311.htm. The failure was in the first-stage rocket launching the probe into orbit, not the probe itself, so it seems that the thing to do is to build the same thing over and try it again.

3 thoughts on “update: space travel still risky

  1. Thinking about it some more, this makes another good point about the current state of space travel. The lack of inexpensive, reliable access to Earth orbit is making efforts like Cosmos 1 next to impossible. As a result, all the exciting new technologies we could be exploring (like solar sails, or ion drives, or multi-planetary communications networks) are stuck on the ground — either due to lack of funding or, like Cosmos, due to launch failure after launch failure.

    People smarter than me are working on the problem, but it really is the big roadblock to Our Bright Future In Space.

  2. At Mike Melvill’s talk, Glen asked whether Scaled Composites was going to try to get into orbit next. Melvill said he wasn’t involved in that but that Rutan was. So we’ll see.

    Funny, I think of Scaled as very business-oriented and of the whole group behind Cosmos 1 (the American backers) more as Hippies with a Dream (nothing wrong with that, but motivated slightly differently). Maybe Ann Druyan (spelling?) can get Burt to take a solar sail up on SpaceShipTwo.

    I have to admit, I’m very very disappointed in the failure of Cosmos 1. I was looking forward to seeing the solar sail from earth. That would have been awesome.

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