The CBS News program 60 Minutes did a report on Elon Musk this week. The video is now available on YouTube.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNwg8FvfuuU&w=700]

The Congressional testimony by Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan is a bit disturbing. Armstrong and Cernan are national heroes. They deserve our respect, but they do not deserve a veto right over our future. Imagine if Charles Lindbergh had returned from Europe, disappeared from aviation for 40 years, then reemerged in the 1960’s to testify against commercial air travel. Safety is important, but commercialization is not the enemy of safety. Safety will improve in space the way it did in aviation – with experience. That’s the only way safety has ever improved, and commercialization is necessary to bring about the increased flight rates that will get us that experience.

As a side note, this is why, as interesting as the SpaceX developments might be, suborbital spaceflight is even more important. Suborbital vehicles have the potential for achieving far higher flight rates, in the near term, than orbital system. As Burt Rutan likes to say, all progress begins at the low end, and it is low-cost low-end suborbital spacecraft which will gain the base  of experience we need for future breakthroughs in orbital and deep-space transportation.

Written by Astro1 on March 21st, 2012 , Citizen Exploration, Commercial Space (General), SpaceX

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