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Before I even start I want to express pride in what these Hopeful Commercial Space programs have accomplished so far and hope to achieve in the future. That being said we need to keep in mind what these organizations are realistically doing to provide functional, dependable manned space service.

Hype

The billionaire Richard Bransons space travel venture Virgin Galactic, has planned to order five more spaceships and aims to turn a profit in five years from its commercial start in 2010. As to whether this will happen remains to be seen. The program has become the favorite of most news and space enthusiasts due to the personality following of Richard Branson and the success of SpaceShipOne in reaching suborbital flight. Something to be rightfully proud.

However with plans for SpaceShipTwo and its five ships what are we really looking at? A larger launch plan and ship but still suborbital flights. If you have several million dollars then whip out your money and get a six minute view of space. I have nothing against this and of course it appears to be go a good way to put a few more dollars in Mr Bransons pockets but doesn’t really expand the technology.

Reality

United Launch Alliance (ULA), a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin at first thought doesn’t sound as exciting or sexy as an eccentric billionaire wanting to go to space. But when you step back and look at it if you want a proper car built for your family would you rather it be built by people in the industry or by an eccentric billionaire with a dream? Don’t bother answering that.

United Launch Alliance was formed just five years ago, bringing together the world’s two most experienced launch teams and two highly reliable launch systems, Atlas and Delta. ULA’s unparalleled recipe of experience is built on the Atlas and Delta legacy of 1,300 launches during the past five decades, propelled by ULA employees and suppliers located in 46 states.
The evidence of ULA’s success over the past five years is literally in orbit.

Every Global Positioning System satellite, every missile warning satellite, nearly every intelligence collection satellite, weather satellite and military communications satellite, as well as nearly every major NASA science mission—from Mercury to Pluto—has been launched successfully on a ULA or ULA heritage launch vehicle.

In addition to the satellite market, ULA is continuing its role in commercial human spaceflight and progress in human-rating the Atlas V vehicle to launch crews to the International Space Station.
The Atlas V vehicle is the lowest risk approach to developing a commercial crew capability over the next several years. Atlas V is the launch vehicle of choice of three of four Commercial Crew Development (CCDEV) teams, including Boeing, Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada.”

Deep Space & Planetary missions

Say hello to NASA and be prepared to continue to expect to see NASA as the sole U.S. provider of these missions for several years to come. With proper funding NASA has a long and very good history with deep space missions.


 

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