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Risk In Private Rocket Flights Worthwhile

Published by Robin on Tue Sep 14, 2004 4:17 pm
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Space Daily, Sep 13, 2004

As the X-Prize sub-orbital rocket contest heats up, the Space Frontier Foundation is praising the imagination and bravery of the rocketeers competing to win this historic race to space.

“We are ecstatic that someone may well win the X-Prize in the next few weeks,” remarked the Foundation’s Rick Tumlinson (a founding Trustee of the X-Prize.)

“We see this as a pivotal moment in human history, as the door to space is at last opened to regular people,” he added.

“But, we are also cognizant of the great risk involved, and we are sympathetic to the families of the people taking those great risks.”

The Foundation has long fought for an open-to-all frontier in space, and is keen to see the X-Prize won, but recognizes that the people of the world are watching, and will be judging the meaning of this new space race for themselves.

The group sees our risk-adverse and litigious society as a real threat to our future, one that must be kept at bay by taking extra precautions, especially in an area that some see as the territory of the apparently more safety-conscious governments of the world.

Ironically, any tragedy that is seen as frivolous can trigger a government reaction, which might threaten the entire alternative space movement of non-government firms and institutions trying to pry space away from its long standing all-government domain.

“Space is a frontier, and frontiers are risky,” explained Tumlinson.

“We also know that expanding any frontier comes at a heavy price, which many have paid for with their lives. As tragic as that is, the benefit to humanity is worth the risk, and we honor those willing to lay everything on the line and take it.”

The Foundation believes it is important that people in government, the media and the general public understand that much more is at stake here than joyrides for rich guys.

Just like the government space program, it is about humanity’s highest aspirations: protecting the Earth, creating a freer and more prosperous life for future generations, but doing so by unleashing the power of free enterprise to open the space frontier.

“The new space age isn’t just about frivolous fools flying freaky toys. We know that all the competing teams will do their utmost to protect their crews and the public. The bravery, creativity, ingenuity, vision and hope of these heroes should make us all proud,” continued Tumlinson .

“Flying paying customers into space for fun may seem silly or too dangerous to some, but this is just an entry market for what we hope will become a whole new industry – one that leads to opening space to all humanity. That is worth almost any risk.”

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