The Man Who Sold Low Earth Orbit

Ever wonder just where Burt Rutan’s spacecraft are going to fly to once they’re perfected? Wonder no more.

Great story here, via Slashdot, about a Las Vegas company designing and building an inflatable space station. It’s intended to produce, among other things, an orbiting hotel.

Delos D. Harriman lives!


14 Responses to “The Man Who Sold Low Earth Orbit”

  1. shell Says:

    Wow! I’m saving my pennies.

  2. Frank Martin Says:

    …..its Burt, as in Reynolds…..not Bert, as in “Bert and Ernie”..

  3. Terry Reynolds Says:

    Delos D. Harriman will always live! As long as the pioneer spirt lives. Nice tie-in. Best, Terry

  4. jborel Says:

    Sweet Heinlein ref. I mentioned to my brother last week that they should rename the that Mojave airstrip Harriman Field.

    Hey, remember the end of Space Cowboys? Tommy Lee Jones leaning against a rock on the moon, dead eyes staring back at earth? Someone still reads Heinlein.

  5. Will Collier Says:

    Shell: You and me both!

    Frank: Thanks.

    Terry: Great idea, but Heinlein Field would be even better.

    JBorel: I saw that movie with my dad, and blurted out, “They ripped off Heinlein!” as soon as Jones’ spacesuit appeared in the last scene.

    I hope Eastwood sent Mrs. H. a check…

  6. bj Says:

    Is there truly a draw for people to travel to 62 miles above the surface of the earth? (Besides the desires of the flesh; ‘space nookie’).

  7. Sekimori Says:

    Will, you just earned an “I” hug from me (should we ever meet) for the Harriman reference, despite your unfortunate Auburn affiliation. *sniff* 🙂

  8. ed Says:


    Nice thought. But, Rutan’s craft will never reach low earth orbit (what we call LEO in the biz) in it’s present form. They are only shooting for a suborbital trajectory.
    Sure, there can be a next generation (Space Ship Two?) that can be pumped up to get three people into LEO. But, White Knight will be looking more like the size of an Antonov 124.
    While I would venture to say that there is a need for innovation in our industry, this project is not going to put Boing out of business.


  9. Will Collier Says:

    Ed, you’re obviously right about SS1… but ya gotta start somewhere.

    Sekimori, I didn’t know you were one of… them… but I suppose I can let that fundamental character flaw slide. After all, you and I do agree that the NFL sucks ass.

  10. Frank Martin Says:

    What Burt does today is make technology demonstrators. SS1 does that very well.

    But lets take a look at what SS1 has done.

    – First private aircraft faster than Mach 3.
    – A complete, workable developed system that can be if needed “scaled” up to greater size.
    – Demonstrates to companies and governments around the world that space access is achievable at a very low cost. If Burt can do it, certainly India, Japan, UK can do it as well.

    What should he do next?

    Extend the downrange.
    Extend the load carrying capacity.

    I’m not as interested in full on orbit just yet until weve explored the full potential for sub orbital craft. If you really want to cross the pacific quickly, I cant think of a better faster way to go than, up, over, then down.

    But I do want to mention that the most important thing he has done is that he has gotten us thinking about “what might be ” again. Theres no underestimating the value to us all that this little event has given. Its given many of us hope for a future that we all had hoped would be here by now.

  11. Silent Running Says:

    “Real hardware here, and it’s destined for Space

    For those wondering just where Burt Rutan was thinking of going with SpaceShip One, this is looking like one possible destination. This is also imminently exciting news as well. This is a sign that the words of Sean O’Keefe about…

  12. shell Says:

    bj: Yes

  13. Slartibartfast Says:

    Dang. Someone else got there first.

    Well, let’s look a little closer. Orbital velocity is (in LEO) in excess of seven and a half kilometers per second. In contrast, Mach 3 is only a little over one kilometer per second (at sea level, of course; it’s slower at higher altitude). It’s going to take over an order of magnitude (actually, a factor of about fifty) more energy to achieve LEO with the same payload. More, probably. Let’s not be thinking we’re doing more than baby steps, here. And getting there is (I think) only about half the problem; you’ve got to de-orbit and reenter.

    That aside, this is really, really exciting. I’m wondering what’s next, and if it’s going to be Rutan delivering the goods.

  14. Random Jottings Says:

    “Instead of boxes, you get rooms…”

    Do take a look at this article on inflatable space habitats, being created by businessman Bob Bigelow, owner of the Budget Suites of America hotel chain… …To understand just how revolutionary Bigelow’s projected cost savings might be, consider the …

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