Saturday, October 09, 2004

Fly Me To The Moon

To Boldly Go
Where No Privately-Owned Spaceship
Has Gone Before

This week, the rocket/plane SpaceShipOne, built by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan and financed by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, won the $10 million competition aimed at creating a space tourism industry, flying 62 miles to the edge of space.

The competition required a privately funded spacecraft to make the flight twice within two weeks, carrying a pilot and the weight of two passengers. (SpaceShipOne successfully completed its first flight on Sept. 29, climbing to 337,500 feet above Mojave).

For the second qualifying flight, Pilot Brian Binnie guided SpaceShipOne to a height of 367,442 feet over California's Mojave Desert, winning their team the $10 million prize money.

(The fact that it cost the team over $20 million to get this accomplished was mentioned briefly during an appearance on The Tonight Show by Rutan and Mike Melville, the pilot from the week's prior flight).

Leno: "Let me get this straight...
You spent $20 million to win $10 million???"

This accomplishment should lead to regular flights in the near future to altitudes below the 350 kilometers required for orbit around Earth. Last week, U.K. billionaire Richard Branson announced plans to license the technology used to build SpaceShipOne to start commercial space trips in 2008. ``It was the best experience other than being with a woman,'' Branson said during a press briefing after the flight.

Branson Describes The Afterglow

A deal was by announced last week by Branson, owner of Virgin Atlantic Airways, to build a fleet of vehicles similar to SpaceShipOne to carry tourists into space.

A ride on one of these flights would cost around $200,000. However, this is far less than what the Russian spacecraft Soyuz charged American financier Dennis Tito to take a flight into space! He paid $20 million to take a ride to the space station in April 2001.

Personally, I wouldn't mind taking one of these flights. I personally have been waiting for that price break from $20 million per flight to a very affordable $200,000!!! I wonder if that includes an on-flight snack?!

Somebody Throw Some Water On These Guys!


Post a Comment

<< Home