Open Thread: The future of space travel
SpaceX aborted the historic launch of its Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station at the last second because of a rocket engine glitch.
May 19th, 2012
01:35 PM ET

Open Thread: The future of space travel

The rocket engines of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft fired, and then abruptly stopped as the countdown to launch reached zero on Saturday. The shutdown caused SpaceX to abort launching the private unmanned spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Both NASA and SpaceX want Dragon to be able to deliver cargo to the station, bringing food, water and other provisions to the station's crew. The possibility of this launch was regarded as historic for sending private spacecraft into orbit.

What do you think is the future of commercial space travel? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Harold

    I don't understand why the "Shuttle" program was "aborted", at least they worked! Seems to me that NASA could have opened the program up for private sector investment and input so that we could continue on and make improvements to an already proven space program...just saying!

    May 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • dogmandg

      The shuttle didn't work economically. It was ridiculously expensive. In addition, the shuttle wasn’t capable of going beyond earth orbit. That’s why they shut it down, low capability and high cost.

      For getting stuff into earth orbit, which has been done hundreds of times by many countries, we need private enterprise. After all, that’s what this country is about. Remember, government contracts = socialism. We should only use government contracts where private enterprise isn’t feasible.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PLchemist

    The economic state of the U.S. is so poor that making a large investment in space exploration is seemingly unjustifiable. Also until technology advances allow us to travel outside the solar system, spending money on traveling to dead inhabitable planets would simply be a waste. Invest in research and perhaps long after I am dead we will be able to travel to another planet, suitable for supporting life. It is almost a certainty that life exists elsewhere. They are some 200+ million galaxies in the universe with some 200+ million stars within those galaxies. To think we are the only forms of intelligent life in this universe would be idiotic.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      Thats why we need to explore space. Based on your first statement, we'll never know whats out there unless we fund research and exploration. C'mon, you think there is life out there, don't you!? Wouldn't you like to have some big discovery made IN YOUR LIFETIME rather than when you're dust? No way we can ever attain the technology required unless we fund R&D into it.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • PLchemist

      Andy, I think you just answered your own question. Defense has been the central dogma of our economy since WW2. I'm all for reinvesting it into research and technology but tell that to the republicans. People still want to invest in coal power cus its cheaper. Military because we're pride ourselves in being the world police and making money off of selling our weapons to other countries. From a money grubbing point of view there is alot more to be gained from war than from space exploration

      May 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • PLchemist

      Sorry. I misspoke earlier. I'm a scientist so wanna make sure I spit the facts straight. There are 200+ BILLION galaxies in the universe and 200+ BILLION stars within each of those galaxies. Certainly there is life out there and certainly suitable planets for us to live on. I would love to see research and development in space travel so that we could one day travel faster than the speed of light and go far far away. Unfortunately we are far from that technology and the pay off is only merely discovery which doesn't put money in anyone's pockets so its hard to convince some rich fat cats to invest in something that won't pay off until after they are dead.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. perfent

    Give SpaceX a break. This is a complicated and important project. A problem came up and they made the correct call.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      exactly this.

      May 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chrissy

    @ bobcat, even though ive not posted much lately, i do read the posts. And ive noticed your absense because i look forward to your jokes. Mary please lets not put a quota on funny, laughter is truly the best medicine! 🙂

    May 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Laura

    There's no such thing as space travel, and there won't be for hundereds, maybe thousands of years. There will soon be space tourism, where rich people will fly a little bit higher than comemrcial jets can take them, and even richer people will reach low earth orbit. But travel implies a destination, and there is no place to go for even the uber wealthy, it just isn't feasible. The private "space industry" is another expensive carnival ride designed to separate the rich fools with their money, nothing more.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jack Spotter

    NOT Joey Isotta-Frachini – not even a passable imitation.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. hst1381

    We do not need rocket's, because over 80 percent of our population is always high, and space out.

    May 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jack Spotter

    You suck at the art of impersonation.

    May 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tom

    Mars is the next logical place to go, right? To actually get there, we need to do this:
    1) Remove the cap on H1-B visas so that engineers can come here from all over the world–mostly India-and design the new spacecraft. After all, we have no such engineers here, right?
    2) Call it a private industry effort but actually fund the company with taxpayer dollars. Corporations don't mind taking large handouts in this country (but let's vilify the unemployed starving person who takes food stamps)
    3) Manufacture the new hardware in China, letting them prosper from our efforts, employing no Americans to do so, and padding China's economics while they simultaneously slowly become a greater and greater military enemy to us.
    4) All this can be accomplished in the next 50 years, if we start today.

    May 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Plenty of Engineering expertise here......Remember Apollo...designed and built from scratch. Of course the government has to fund it....No company is going to invest in space exploration without short term profits.Oh we can build it here because that's what we do best. Design and build a few spacecraft. If you want a million of em you call China.

      May 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jerry dube

    I belive that space exploration should be a global enterprise with all nations sharing all technology and cost.l

    May 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jack Spotter

    Maybe you could brush up on grammar and punctuation, faker. And how to spell names. Joey would never write such a post, but hey, that never stopped you, has it?

    May 19, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Name*tim

    I believe we should travel to the stars. We aren't ready to meet et, and won't be until we change and mature in many ways.

    May 19, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dogmandg

    I think traveling to other planets will start in earth orbit. In other words, get the ship, fuel, and crew into earth orbit using multiple launches, and then take off from there. Using this earth orbit rendezvous mode, we'll be able to use lower cost private rockets, dramatically lowering the cost for interplanetary missions. So I see private rockets taking over just about all launch services. This leaves NASA to do what they do best: focus on the spacecraft and the mission, and leaves the lifting to commercial enterprise.

    May 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nick

    I think space travel is a much better investment than Facebook.

    May 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |

    If space were infinite, there would not be a beginning, because infinity is defined as a line, not a ray. It is possible that it does not have an end, but that is all relative to time. This is the main premise for scientists to presume that the universe is still expanding. Because if it has a beginning, they assume that it must have a physical end, but no end in time, If this were true, then there would have to be something that lies beyond the edge of space. But then again, there could be nothing, but our minds are not capable of comprehending nothingness. So, in our thinking, space has to be infinite.

    May 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim


      May 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |

      @ Jim, No
      And I am very interested in the "Lightcraft" laser propulsion research, as U of R is working in conjunction with other Universities directly involved in man-made IFOs. It's REAL fellers, get over yourselves.
      Nite all...

      May 19, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
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