Richard Branson and Elon Musk aren’t the only personalities in the commercialised spaceflight game. There a plenty of smaller operations having a crack, from hobbyist operations such as John Carmack’s Armadillo Aerospace, to more serious efforts. In this video from Freethink — which will be an ongoing series — we get a chance to meet one of these dedicated outfits, with the focus here being Jeff Greason and XCOR Aerospace.
According to the video’s description, XCOR’s aim is for daily space flights. The first problem to solve of course is creating a vehicle up to the task:
XCOR’s team of aerospace engineers are hunkered down in the Mojave Desert, working on a spacecraft prototype with a very ambitious goal: four daily, safe, round-trip flights to space, five days a week. If XCOR is successful, they could take more people to space in six months than NASA did in 30 years.
Greason’s desire to chase the stars was kickstarted in part by the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster:
… we all just assumed an organisation like NASA would have fixed it. Not only had NASA known about that problem and not fixed it, they had known about lots of other problems and not fixed them. And that was really the moment where I said “You know, it doesn’t matter how much money Congress does or does not give NASA, this agency is not going to get me off this planet.” And I said “I want to live in a civilisation that knows that our possibilities are limitless” … so I sat down and started writing business plans.
I should note this video is a little out of date; Greason appears to have moved onto another venture, Agile Aero, Inc., which is less interested in commercial spaceflight and more rapid prototyping / services company for the aerospace industry.