Commentary

“It’s like an upside-down bungee jump”

That’s how Jon Logsdon of the Space Policy Institute describes what a trip into suborbital space will feel like. Tourists could be catapulted into space as early as next year and Futron, a Bethesda, Md.-based aerospace consulting firm, estimates that revenues in the space tourism industry could exceed $1 billion a year by 2021. Who will be taking us into space? We’ve heard a lot about the Rutan-Branson team behind Virgin Galactic, but there will be other companies too:

Oklahoma-based Rocketplane Kistler is one of Virgin Galactic’s biggest competitors. Rocketplane Kistler, whose main investor is American businessman George French, hopes to start test flights next January and fly commercially by next summer. French owns several businesses including a space education company in Wisconsin. The company is building a souped-up, 42-foot-long suborbital Lear jet that can seat three passengers and a pilot. Unlike SpaceShipTwo, which would piggyback atop a mothership to a certain height, the Rocketplane XP would take off and land like an airplane using turbojets and rockets. … Space Adventures, a Virginia-based space travel agency best known for brokering three tourists to the international space station, is the latest entrant. Last month, Space Adventures announced a partnership with members of the Ansari family ââ?¬â?? the major funders of the $10 million X Prize won by SpaceShipOne ââ?¬â?? to develop Russian-designed suborbital rockets that would launch from a proposed spaceport in the United Arab Emirates by 2008. … PlanetSpace, backed by American businessman Chirinjeev Kathuria, is building a 54-foot-long, three-seat suborbital rocket that would launch from somewhere in the Great Lakes region and re-enter Earth by splashing into the water. It hopes to fly 2,000 passengers in the first five years, beginning in 2008.

Article here. Thanks to Don for the tip. Related: My interview with Burt Rutan.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.

Ted is the director of Can We Take a Joke?, a Korchula Productions feature documentary about the collision between comedy and outrage culture featuring comedians such as Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette, Jim Norton, Lisa Lampanelli, and Adam Carolla. Ted is producing Little Pink House, a Korchula Productions feature narrative about about Susette Kelo's historic fight to save her beloved home and neighborhood. The film stars two-time Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener (Capote, Being John Malkovich, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Emmy nominee Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love, The Firm, Basic Instinct).

Ted produced the award-winning shorts The Conversation and Cute Couple. He is an executive producer on the feature documentary Honor Flight, and produced the film's first trailer, which attracted more than 4.5 million views. The Honor Flight premiere attracted an audience of more than 28,000 and set the Guinness World Record for largest film screening in history.

Ted is a founding member of ReasonTV, where he produced hundreds of videos and documentary shorts, including Raiding California, which introduced a nationwide audience to the Charles Lynch medical marijuana case.

Ted is co-creator of The Drew Carey Project, a series of documentary shorts hosted by Drew Carey, and creator of the comedic series Don't Cops Have Better Things to Do? and Nanny of the Month.

His ReasonTV contributions have been featured by The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, and on the he John Stossel Special Bailouts and Bull, a first-of-its-kind joint project between ABC News and ReasonTV.

During Ted's tenure, ReasonTV received the Templeton Freedom Award for Innovative Media and in 2008 Businessweek recognized his short Where's My Bailout? (created with Courtney Balaker) as among the best of bailout humor.

Prior to joining Reason, Ted spent five years producing at ABC Network News, producing hour-long specials and 20/20 segments on topics ranging from free speech to addiction.

Ted's written work has appeared in dozens of publications, including The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Reason magazine, The Washington Post, and USA TODAY. He is the author or co-author of 11 studies on topics ranging from urban policy to global trade, and his research has been presented before organizations such as the Mont Pelerin Society and the American Economic Association.

Ted is co-author (with Sam Staley) of the book The Road More Traveled (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), which Chapman University's Joel Kotkin says "should be required reading, not only for planners and their students, but for anyone who loves cities and wants them to thrive."

Ted has appeared on many radio and television programs, including ABC World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, and has interviewed hundreds of thinkers and innovators, ranging from X Prize recipient and private spaceflight pioneer Burt Rutan to Templeton Prize-winning biologist and philosopher Francisco Ayala.

Ted graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Irvine with degrees in political science and English.