How Soon Private Spaceflight?

I was reading Reason today and they posted an article from their print issue about the first private spaceport in America.

A concept image of the XCOR Lynx in orbital flight.

It was kind of exciting to read about and I feel stupid I hadn’t known anything about it. (Some “space enthusiast” I am…) What’s really exciting is the “cowboy” kind of mentality that’s described. I don’t think this is unique to the commercial space industry, after all, I worked in the dotcom days when everything was done by winging it. But it’s neat to see people really trying to make private spaceflight a possibility.

From the article:

XCOR is one of the smaller, scrappier players in the private space race, not driven by the headline-grabbing exploits of superwealthy chieftains such as Branson and SpaceX’s Elon Musk. It’s all quotidian at company headquarters—working men with molds and lathes and gas canisters and racks and dummy mockups of ambitious things working cheek by jowl in a full space, testing and building. Men are crowded around the cockpit model for the Lynx, holding up metal pieces, measuring and thinking. XCOR president Jeff Greason is on the phone in the passenger seat. The area of the shop floor where the completed Lynx’s body will sit within a year from now is marked off with full-size model pieces, tangible traces of the worked-for future.

Of course, the XCOR Lynx has nothing to do with the Rayo Lynx but it wouldn’t be hard to see Rayo as perhaps a fictional version of XCOR. (Hey, they have the same number of letters and share two of them… right? Right?)

In fact, the neat thing about reading about the private space industry now is just how much work they’re doing and how much progress they’re making. According to the “history” of the Unified Republic of Stars, much of this progress doesn’t take place for another sixty or seventy years. So it’s nice to be wrong.

The Rayo Corporation is one of the three largest Space Vehicle Manufacturers with the Republic. It is known primarily for making high end and easily maintainable cargo vessels such as the Tomcat and Bengal as well as for the extreme efficiency of it's Ion-Plasma power plants....
The Rayo Lynx was the successor vessel to the Rayo Tiger, making its debut in 2101. A popular intra-system cargo ship, it helped build many of the orbital stations in the Sol System and bases on Earth's moon and Mars....

And, if one were a totally unrealistic but hopeful optimist, like… err… me, one might also hold out hope of getting to travel to suborbital heights before one… uh… croaks.

Which brings up an interesting question, in terms of storyworlds. What should one do when real life advancement is outpacing what is built into the storyworld’s history? Should the history be revised? Or should it be viewed as an “alternate” history of our world?

A shot of the Mojave Spaceport from the air

Not the way I imagined spaceports looking but, hey, they need to start somewhere, right?

Not a problem writers of fantasy have, I’d imagine.

Still, reading accounts of the wet and wild style of these early commercial space vehicle companies makes me think I wasn’t totally off when trying to capture the same vibe for what would make up the early private space industry in the Unified Republic of Stars.

And that’s heartening…


Anyone have any good story ideas about what it might be like to be a pioneer in early private spaceflight? We’re always looking…