The dramatic explosions last week of a piloted Virgin Galactic spaceship and an unmanned commercial rocket off Virginia’s Eastern Shore have shone a spotlight on the risks of commercial spaceflight. Though investigations are ongoing in both incidents, the accidents are a blow to both the private launch industry — which helps resupply International Space Station astronauts, among other tasks — and the future of space tourism. We get the latest on the accidents in the Mojave Desert and in Virginia, and learn about the risks and rewards NASA is weighing as private companies increasingly take over vital functions in space travel.
Howard McCurdy Professor of Public Affairs, American University; Co-author of “Robots In Space: Technology, Evolution and Interplanetary Travel” (Johns Hopkins University Press)
Jeff Foust Senior Staff Writer, SpaceNews; Editor, The Space Review