It’s been five years since SpaceShipOne won the first Ansari X Prize and proved that commercial vehicles have a future in outer space.
But the move to actually commercialize space hasn’t been as quick as those trying to make it happen predicted.
The Associated Press is taking a look at that reality in a new article. The article features “daredevil venture capitalist” Alan Walton as one of hundreds of people who “plunked down” the $200,000 to be among the first space tourists on a Virgin Galactic spaceship.
Now he says he’s about ready to ask for his money back, if there’s no set launch date by next April, when he turns 74.
“This was going to be the highlight of my old age,” the AP quoted Walton as saying.
When Virgin officials and the state of New Mexico came together to announce a partnership to turn the commercial space industry into a reality, they estimated commercial flights beginning in 2007 in California and moving to Spaceport America as soon as the New Mexico facility was ready in 2008.
Clearly, that hasn’t happened. Commercial flights in California haven’t started yet, as Virgin has experienced as many delays in building its craft as New Mexico officials have had in building the spaceport.
From the AP article:
“Turning the dream into reality has taken longer than many expected in those days, and spaceflight remains the realm of government astronauts and a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people who have paid millions for rides on Russian rockets to the international space station.
“X Prize founder Peter Diamandis says, however, that things have not been at a standstill.
“More than $1 billion has been invested in the industry, regulatory roadblocks have been addressed and as many as three different passenger spaceships will emerge in the next 18 to 24 months and begin flying, he said.”
Spaceport America’s runway is under construction, and officials now estimate that the facility will be operational by 2011.
But the AP article deals with the creation of the spaceship, not the spaceport. Check it out by clicking here.