Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic, Space, Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin, Spaceflight ‘heralding a new era of commercial space’: Fmr. NASA Astronaut
I believe the actual sub orbit portion of the flight is all of 20 seconds uh, but it’s still really cool right, but our next guest is someone who can say been there done that three space shuttle missions spent several months aboard the international space station, but to Help us understand what’s, going on in this new space race. We invite into this stream leroy chow he’s, a former nasa astronaut and iss commander it’s good to have you here, sir, and first, this is historic. The fact that space tourism is now here. What are you taking away from what’s supposed to happen on sunday? Well, this is a big deal because you know the promise of suborbital flight, as was supposed to come a lot earlier, and you know. Of course, we have seen several people pay a lot more money to go into orbit for around a week or so. But this is a big deal because uh, you know richard branson and a few days later, jeff bezos plan to take their spacecraft right in their spacecraft and go up into sub orbital flight. What that means is it’ll touch space. These spacecraft will touch space. They won’t go into earth orbit, but they’ll touch space, for you know just just a few minutes and then come back down and return to the earth, and so this is heralding a new era. Commercial space of commercial space so i’m very excited to see this happen. I got to ask you i’m going to geek out here because you you went past sub orbit.
You were aboard the international space station for several months. The three shuttle missions what’s it like and is there a difference between when you’re in orbit versus sub orbit? The experience a passenger has oh absolutely if you’re suborbital, i mean you’re, only going to be in zero gravity. For you know just maybe a few minutes. You know so basically you’re on a parabolic arc, you’re going to go, fly up, you’re going to come over and be weightless, see the curvature of the earth, see the beauty of the earth and look out into the universe and then you’re going to be coming back Down into the atmosphere, uh the difference, of course, if you get into orbit you’re going to be going 17 500 miles an hour to orbit the earth uh. On the other hand, these suborbital flights they’ll probably get up to around uh. You know mach 3 or so so, somewhere around. You know 2 000 miles an hour instead of getting up to that 17 500 that you need to sustain orbit uh once you’re in orbit aboard the international space station. My longest mission was six and a half months. Very different experience in just a few minutes um you, you touched upon something that is a bit macabre, that i’ve been dying to ask: is there any chance whether it’s the virgin galactic space plane or the blue origin capsule that they could go too far and oops? We broke out were in orbit now we can’t get back well, they wouldn’t get into orbit because you’ve got to get that orbital speed of 17 500 miles an hour space.
Those spacecraft are not designed to do that. They don’t have the fuel to do it. So there’s no way they could accidentally get into orbit. Of course, there are plenty of other things that could go wrong, but both those spacecraft had been through uh, numerous test flights and so uh. You know it shows a lot that the founders uh, these two individuals are actually gon na go fly on the spacecraft that gives people should give people a lot of confidence that the test program was very rigorous. I i don’t remember the year, but it was at least 10. Maybe more years ago i had the privilege of covering the last shuttle launch, because president obama had put into place. I guess time to privatize the space program we hear about the chinese. You know making great strides: they’ve got something that landed on the moon. They’Ve got something that’s landed on mars, yet they’re, so 20th century it’s a government program where now we have a private sector. You look at spacex going to the iss. Is this? You know cat out of the bag here comes you and i one day might be able to buy a ticket to go into sub orbit and then i’m hoping one day into orbit. Sure it’s going to take a technological breakthrough to really bring the price of a very reliable, robust propulsion system down, because rocket engines are expensive and that’s really kind of the driving force these rockets, these spacecraft, it takes a lot to get them to be very reliable.
A lot of moving parts and so that’s, why you see the price come down from say around 70 million dollars for a one week, orbital flight with the russians aboard the iss down to about 250 000 for a few minute flight into space, aboard um virgin, galactic Or jeff bezos’s chef, new shepard spacecraft, but it’s still out of reach for most people right, and would you rather buy a house? Would you rather go on this several minute experience into space? Most people don’t have that kind of disposable income, so we’re not there yet, but we’re going in the right direction and what’s the coolest thing i mean i forgive me for again: geeking out what’s the coolest thing for you because, as i said in the introduction, been There done that, for you, you did it more than you did it three to four times you were in orbit well, that’s true i’ve been in lower earth orbit for a cumulative total of about almost 230 days. My longest flight was six and a half months as the commander of the international space station, so uh frankly, i’m, not interested in the suborbital flight. You know that’s a few minutes of something i’ve already spent. You know almost a year uh experiencing. So, for me, the big big deal would be to get a chance to go to the moon or to go to mars, but it’s very exciting that the commercial side is starting to break out we’re going to get more people into space.
Not not the quote. Unquote, normal people who can afford this kind of ticket price, even though it’s much lower than an orbital flight but uh but it’s, exciting to see the beginning, and we all have a quarter million dollars lying around to give the russians to take us up. Hey real quick: do you think we’re going to get to mars in our lifetimes? You know what i think we will and it’s, not necessarily i hate to say because of a nasa program, i like to say, we’ve been 20 years from mars since 1969, when we landed apollo 11 on the moon, everybody was certain that within 20 years, we’d be On mars and of course, we haven’t even gotten back to the moon, but spacex elon musk has publicly said many many times he started spacex because he wants to colonize mars. He himself wants to live on mars, uh they’re, building the prototypes, the starship now and they’re testing them uh and uh.