These have naturally thrown light on the safety aspects of space travel - with many pointing out that the pilot of the VSS Enterprise was the first fatality in spaceflight since 2003, and that the development of supersonic flight was much more risky. One aspect that is more interesting to me is that these were both aspects of the long hoped for transfer of space exploration from government organisations to private enterprise. It remains to be seen how the crashes will affect that transfer (there is an argument that private enterprise is more capable of getting over a disaster than government organisation - witness the paralysis that struck NASA following the Shuttle disasters).
Photos such as the ones below were the stuff of dreams and sci-fi, but now come in every day.
|Dingo Pass, Mars (Photo: NASA)|
|Rhea and Titan (Photo: NASA)|
|Hydrocardon seas on Titan (Photo: NASA)|
On 12 November, the lander Philae will leave the Rosetta spacecraft (which was launched back in 2004) and land on the nucleus of the snappily-named 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, delivering 25kg of scientific instruments. That will be a truly momentous occasion.
|How we're used to thinking of comets (Photo: ESA)|
|How we can now think about them now (Photo: ESA)|