Will commercial space companies be able to conduct manned space flights (i.e. above 80km) in 2018?

Both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic will send people to space in 2018.
19 (19.6%)
Blue Origin will send people to space, but Virgin Galactic won't.
29 (29.9%)
Blue Origin won't send people to space, but Virgin Galactic will.
4 (4.1%)
Neither company will send people to space, BO will launch unmanned NS rocket, VG will have powered rocket flights
35 (36.1%)
Neither company will send people to space, only BO will launch unmanned NS rocket
5 (5.2%)
Neither company will send people to space, only VG will conduct gliding or powered tests.
2 (2.1%)
Neither company will send people to space - total hiatus, only ground activities, no flights at all.
3 (3.1%)

Total Members Voted: 97

Voting closed: 02/03/2018 01:05 PM

Author Topic: Will commercial tourist companies conduct manned space flights in 2018?  (Read 4993 times)

Offline DanielW

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I don't think BO even plans on manned flights in 2018, so that counts them out. VG might but color me doubtful. I think blue origin will end up launching customers first and end up with a virtual monopoly on sub orbital tourism. I just think most people will prefer BO's simple elevator ride to virgin's complicated multi-step mission profile.

Offline Craftyatom

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I have more faith in Blue than VG, given that Blue has now basically done a dry run with human-capable hardware.  They don't plan to put humans in their current capsule (which we've been told has ECLSS and abort capability), but they definitely could - so if someone said "$1 billion to the next commercial company to put people into space" I think Blue could slap an intern in one of the chairs and have it done within the next 30 days.  They won't - because they're sensible - but it bodes well for them flying one of their employees in the next 12 months, even if it requires building another capsule that meets their strict human-rating standards.

VG are a different story.  They're on track, but it's one that we don't have a map for, and they're taking it slow because the last time they tried, they crashed.  I was almost tempted to say they won't make it before the year is out, except that - as mentioned upthread - they don't have unmanned capability.  All flights to space will be manned, which means that the question becomes "will a spaceshiptwo go to space next year?"  Given that they're supposedly quite close to powered testing, and there are only so many powered tests you can do before you end up in space, I think they're probably going to make it to space this coming year, and there will have to be at least one human on board.

So I voted both.  Now, in terms of customers, not a chance.  Nobody - not Blue, not VG, not SpaceX - is flying commercial passengers in 2018.  SpaceX may well fly people in 2018, but given that they'll be NASA astronauts, I don't think they count.
All aboard the HSF hype train!  Choo Choo!

Online mme

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I think Blue will conduct a manned test flight but won't begin commercial operations.

I bet on VG not flying at all in 2018 but I hope I'm wrong.
« Last Edit: 12/18/2017 10:41 PM by mme »
Space is not Highlander.  There can, and will, be more than one.

Offline Zed_Noir

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In theory SpaceX could omitted the upper stage from their Falcon 9 stack with a slightly modified Dragon 2 for sub-orbital flight profile in 2018.

Not likely IMO. SpaceX will need a new TEL and new crew access hardware along with several fast recovery ships and dedicated search & recovery air assets.

However, if block 5 cores is used in this role. Then only maybe a pair of cores and a pair of Dragon 2 is all the flight hardware required along with the trunks for the Dragon. The trunks might be recoverable for sub-orbital flights.

Offline Paul451

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so if someone said "$1 billion to the next commercial company to put people into space"

A billion? Virgin is selling suborbital tourist flights for $200k, and that seems to be the appropriate market price (judging by response.) And the Ansari prize was $10m.

Offering $1b for suborbital flights would be just throwing money away. That's substantially more than SpaceX & Boeing will receive for each manned orbital flight.

(Aside: And I'm disappointed that "space flight" has been downgraded to 80km.)

Online hop

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I don't think BO even plans on manned flights in 2018, so that counts them out.
FWIW, Jeff Foust reported on this today http://spacenews.com/blue-origin-a-year-away-from-crewed-new-shepard-flights/
a Blue Origin executive said Dec. 18 that the company was now about a year away from starting to fly people
So notionally, there's a chance they could fly crew before the end of 2018, but given how schedules move in the space biz, slipping past that seems like a pretty safe bet.