21 April 2008

A Marriage Made in Heaven--Courtesy of Virgin

Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic Airways intends to begin presiding over marriages performed in sub-orbital space. You had best plan your wedding far enough in advance. Oh, and make it a small and intimate ceremony. Virgin's spaceships can only accomodate a small wedding party.
He's married a couple on board a Virgin America jet, he's also officiated the marriage of Google's co-founder Larry Page on his private island in the Caribbean, now Richard Branson wants to marry couples as they reach the apex of their Virgin Galactic flights into space. The British billionaire already has two wedding-related bookings, one marriage and one honeymoon, and it is hoped he will obtain a licence to conduct the ceremonies for more. Certainly unique, but I wonder how popular getting hitched in zero gravity will be…..Virgin Galactic already has 200 people booked to fly into space proving there is a market for space tourism out there. Construction of SpaceShipTwo has already begun and the first test flights are expected to commence in 2009.
Being the first couple from your home town to be married in space may be a large enough novelty to attract hundreds--even thousands--of couples to space tourism, despite the hundred thousand dollar price tag. Next, people will want to actually spend the night in an orbiting hotel--perhaps one of Bigelow's--and experience a weightless honeymoon that lasts long enough to actually enjoy.

None of these things are actually doing anything to put human enterprise, and colonies, into space permanently. That will require ongoing commercial ventures that require a human presence in space, and that pay very well for the risk that such a presence entails.

Unfortunately, for such ventures, human governments and inter-governments are turning out to be the enemy. When governments oppose a burgeoning market based upon rational returns, it is often the government that loses in the end.


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