Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Giant Leap For Mankind

Private space travel got a boost yesterday with the remarkable sub-orbital space flight of "Starship One." For $25 million, much of which was contributed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, a complex and brand new space vehicle was developed and successfully put into space. NASA would be lucky to purchase the fuel for one shuttle mission with such a sum, let alone design a new space vehicle. Not to say NASA has never achieved anything, but one thing is certain as of yesterday's flight, NASA's days are numbered. Private space entrepreneurship, spurred by the funding of individuals like Allen and the consortium of groups and individuals who are underwriting the X-Prize (a $10 million prize for launching a man into space twice in two weeks through private means), is clearly what is going to advance man's exploration of space. The commercial possibilities of space, not just tourism and the novelty of weightlessness, but resource exploration and scientific experimentation are what will drive more flights, more vehicles, and more men beyond the gravitational bonds of the Earth and into the cosmos.

Burt Ratan and Paul Allen are heroes (they were already heroes for different reasons) and I salute them!

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