A Space Democracy with George T. Whitesides

A Space Democracy with George T. Whitesides


My name is George Whitesides. I’m the CEO of Virgin Galactic. Well, the world of space is going through a tremendous
transformation right now and we like to think at Galactic, we’re a part of two aspects of that. So, the first one is high
speed point-to-point travel that we’re opening up space access to people from around the world and we’re building a vehicle
that will take people on suborbital journeys
up to space and back, and we can do that from
anywhere in the world, but what we’re doing with SpaceShipTwo is really learning all
the key technologies in terms of thermal protection systems, integration into National Airspace System and high speed navigation, where we’ll be able to actually think about going between two points on Earth at very high Mach numbers. With our rocket-base solutions, it would be Mach five to Mach 10, so you’d be getting across
the Pacific in two hours, you’d get across the Atlantic in an hour, that kind of time frame. The other thing that’s very exciting is the area of small satellites. What we wanna do is be the
responsive launch provider to all of those small satellite payload, so we’re building a small
satellite launch vehicle. It drops from a 747 aircraft, so we take it up, a rocket, and we drop it and it goes up into space and it can take those
small satellites to space. And why does that matter? It matters because space is
transitioning from a time in which only governments
really could be involved and really big governments to a time when many other entities are going to be able to reap the benefits of space technology. So, there’s this transformation going on as small teams around the world are learning how to build
these smaller things, even some teams here in the UAE were doing great things here. And so, with a small satellite,
something like this big, you can do something that you
could have previously done with something that was
the size of a school bus. It would have cost billions
of dollars to make. And now, you can make
it for a million bucks or maybe even a few
hundred thousand dollars or even less, potentially, a few tens of thousands of dollars. And you can do things that previously were only
available to big governments. And that democratization
or that opening up of space benefits is going to be something that I think will
dominate the next 10 years of space development. (powerful tune)

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