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Virgin Galactic crash: Is space tourism worth the risk?

To the editor: In assessing the damage caused by the crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, Richard Branson quoted another famous British citizen, Sir Isaac Newton, saying that his team is "standing on the shoulders of giants." ("Virgin Galactic fatal crash sends tremors through commercial space industry," Nov. 1)

If I were a space tourist on his aircraft, I would want a recognized giant in the rocket industry to have certified flightworthiness. I would hope that Branson wants a group like NASA or the Aerospace Corp. to be a part of the investigation. These groups each have more than 50 years as giants in the space business.

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The National Transportation Safety Board has admitted it is learning in this new area. For the sake of his potential passengers, Branson should reach out to the world leaders in safe space travel to certify the flightworthiness of his vehicles.

Bernard Bregman, Northridge

The writer is a retired aerospace engineer.

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To the editor: The media and public need to realize that new, huge undertakings are filled with risk.

I am sure many people were injured or killed when air travel was just getting started. The same is true about the early days of automobiles. Massive changes are usually fraught with risk, and thank goodness there are people who are willing to sacrifice life, limb and money to help bring about major changes.

I think the public and the media need to leave the pessimism behind.

Tom Reinberger, Glendora

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To the editor: Middle of the Mojave Desert this is not. The debris field from the Virgin Galactic crash is close to the intersection of California 14 and Redrock Randsburg Road, near the site of a closed elementary school.

A ride in space for a few bored movie stars who want to burn some money is, apparently, enough reason to allow Branson to play with rockets over populated areas. The risks certainly outweigh the benefits to society.

Can any rich yahoo launch a test rocket in this way if he can afford it?

Kathleen Garcia, Van Nuys

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion

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