Steve Inskeep, Nick Schmidl, Sasha Pfeiffer discussed on Morning Edition
Sponsors include truest wealth dedicated to creating meaningful relationships to understand clients so they may protect and pursue what truly matters most truest wealth. Taking a look at traffic this morning in downtown L A on the Colbun won 10 at fifth Street. We have reports of a crashed blocking the left lane there and looks like you're tapping the brakes from the five South. And in Boyle Heights north Beyond five at the near the East La Interchange of Crash there has cleared still stop and go from the 7 10. Support for NPR comes from Subaru, with the 2021 Subaru Forrester featuring standard symmetrical all wheel drive and safety. Technology. Love. It's what makes a Subaru Subaru learn more at Subaru dot com. And indeed, with instant match hiring tool, instantly delivering to businesses a list of candidates whose resumes on indeed match the job description learn more at indeed dot com slash credit. It's 7 45 It's morning edition from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep, and I'm Sasha Pfeiffer. For years, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have competed to be the first to offer commercial trips to space. And yesterday, Branson, the 70 year old British billionaire took the first ride he successfully reached the outer edge of space on a Virgin Galactic rocket plane named Unity. Reflect on this milestone. We're joined by Nick Schmidl. He's a staff writer for The New Yorker who spent four years reporting from inside Virgin Galactic. Good Morning, Nick. Good morning. Thanks for having me on big broad question. Why was this trip such a big deal? It was a big deal for a few reasons. It was a huge deal for Richard Branson, who before becoming a billionaire had had nurtured this dream of flying to space. And so yesterday was it was in some ways of vindication for him. I mean, he's been wanting to do this, as you said. Uh, since 2000 and four when they when he created version Galactic, and it was always going to be next year next year next year, and for a variety of reasons, detailed and test guards. The book that I wrote came out two months ago that you know, he's just, uh, the program has constantly you know, for for technical reasons and engineering reasons and all kinds of other reason test it's just kind of eluded him. And so yesterday was a Was a big moment for him, proving that they can put you know they could fly this this rocket ship to the edge of space with passengers on board. They have done this three previous times, but it had been with Test pilots or just with one engineer in the back. So, yeah, this is This is a big big moment for him and for the company and for those passengers on board, we should note. Some of them are private citizens who paid huge amounts of money to go and other people will pay more. Give us a sense of what people are paying to do this Well, so on yesterday's trip, there was no one no one. None of them paid. They are all employees are version galactic that were on board yesterday. Um, Jeff Bezoza. However, who is going to fly here in eight days. Someone who is as yet unnamed paid $28 million for a seat with Jeff Bas. Oh, so so people are ready to pony up massive amounts of cash and Virgin Galactic has 600 Customers who had made a deposit of 202 $150,000 to hold their seat. And they are all they have been waiting since 2000 and 4 2000 and five for their opportunity. To go to space, and and now we have taken a step forward. Now. It's important to note that in some ways yesterday was kind of a a proof of concept and and the realization of creating a commercial space line that has airline like like frequency and I can do it in a way. Uh, that in some ways kind of bucks history, and we have to remember that the fatality rate for space flight is about 3%. And version. Galactic knows that that if they kill one out of every 3 33 passengers that goes up that's not going to be a very It's not. That's not a solid business model. So they are trying to to to do something that all of the government funded predecessors have not been able to do, which is to bring that fatality rate down to a fraction of a percent. In many ways, you know, to try and emulate kind of airline safety. How realistic will it ever be for the general public to do this? People who can't pay more than you would, by you would spend on a house in order to get on one of these. Well, I mean, look, I still I still can't afford a business class ticket across the across the Atlantic. And I don't think that a space flight is going to be less than a business class ticket across the Atlantic anytime in the next decade, so for most of us will never get up there. It'll be. It'll be. It'll be a lot so all the talk about democratizing space is noble, but it could be. It could be quite some time. That's next Middle, a staff writer for the New Yorker, his book is called Test. God's Virgin Galactic in the Making of a modern astronaut. Thank you, Nick. Thanks for having me on Yeah..