In about an hour, Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne is to launch again, in an attempt to claim the Ansari X Prize. It’s simple — launch a three-person vehicle to the edge of space, return it to earth safely, and then do it again within two weeks.
Last week, Rutan’s group launched, accomplished their mission of hitting the edge of space, and then landed safely…. after a harrowing series of unintentional “victory rolls”.
I hope they make it today. This prize is ushering in a new era of private space travel, and that, I believe, is the only way I’m gonna get there. Richard Branson, seldom missing an opportunity, has already declared that he wants to make space travel as common as Carribbean cruises. The price tag, though, is thought to be $100k to $200k, which puts it a little outside my realm, but still waaaaaay lower than the Russians at $20M! 🙂
One day though, I’m fairly convinced, I will have an opportunity to be a tourist in space, and will have seen the tip of the iceberg that is to come, and fulfilled part of the future that was promised me when I was a kid.