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Privatized Commercial Space Travel is Here!

“[Space travel] will come, but only when there is a high enough demand so that you can have a “public highway” system. To support today’s air traffic network, you’ve got to have a million passengers constantly on the move. The same will be true in space: It’s not really a technology problem, it’s more a sort of chicken-and-egg economic problem. I hope that it will grow, probably on the back of the military. The military has needs for all kinds of space launching and is prepared to pay for it. So with luck something like this space highway will develop. It doesn’t matter who pays for it initially. In the end it will belong to everybody.” – FREEMAN DYSON

The first privately funded spaceship was successfully launched into orbit today, giving birth to an industry that has long been the subject of only science-fiction and boastful speculation: that of Commercial Spaceflight.

Several private citizens (of the 500 total space travelers) have previously orbited the earth in NASA, Soyuz and Mir spacecrafts, and this latest SpaceX rocket, Dragon, is still only available to professional astronauts and millionaires, so we’re not quite in the age of The Jetsons yet. But in researching this story I came across a few other interesting developments in the intergalactic spread of capitalist ideology.

Boeing has apparently entered into an exclusive contract with Space Adventures, the company that assisted former microsoft executive Charles Simonyi on his two 400KM orbits aboard the international space station. The Space Adventures website is now set up to receive extraterrestrial travel packages with spacewalk and lunar landing options.

The CST-100, Boeing’s space shuttle, won’t be operational until 2015, so at this moment in time, you’ll need to book your trip about four years in advance. Anyone in a 2012 panic will still have to make alternative plans for the end of the Mayan calendar.

This a truly historic day, and too soon to voice all of my concerns about what this will mean, in light of what greedy corporations have already done to this planet. Let’s call it one small step for man and one giant leap for capitalism.

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