...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Monday, June 21, 2004
      ( 10:22 AM )
Space Cadet

WOW! This is awesome. I don't know if you have heard about Project X - it's the competition to get a commercial space craft out of the atmosphere twice - with passengers, all for a $10 million prize. SpaceShipOne's first flight was a success today!

Later, standing on the tarmac beside the ship, Melvill said seeing the Earth from outside the atmosphere was "almost a religious experience."

"You can see the curvature of the Earth," he said. "You got a hell of a view from 60, 62 miles."


Rutan said the flight was remarkable because SpaceShipOne both reached space and then returned so smoothly.

"It's the first time that a winged vehicle can have a carefree re-entry," Rutan said.

The space shuttles, for example, require extensive computerized control mechanisms to maintain proper attitude and stability during the plunge back into the atmosphere.

SpaceShipOne, however, employs a novel design in which its twin tailbooms and the back half of each wing rotate upwards to create drag for a brief time, much like feathers slow and stabilize the flight of a badminton shuttlecock. The tailbooms and wings then return to normal for the glide back to Earth.

The mechanism worked flawlessly, Rutan said.

Just incredible. Space junkies (like myself) are totally into this - it is so cool that space is opening up to people. It's possible we could have commercial space fight within the next decade. Innovation and entrepreneurship at its best. I'm a HUGE fan of NASA and so I don't advocate getting rid of it, we need it. But this competition shows us that there is a lot out there to be done for us regular folks who some day hope to see the curvature of the earth - in person. Ever since third-grade when I saw that slide show about the first space flight I've wanted to go there. Just imagine.

Space. Universe. NASA. Time-space continuum, capsule, space station, star, comet, planet, solar flare, solar system, gravity, orbit, moons, rings, light years, the Prime Directive, Challenger, Columbia, Apollo I, space suit, space flight, rocket, blast off, anti-gravity, earth, vaccuum, atmosphere, craters, exploration, contact. I'd like to do more than just know or say these words. I want to be in the midst of them, roll around and float in space, get a space cramp, catch a space cold, take a space nap. I want to look back at the earth while surrounded by stars. Space. The best part of human beings makes it possible.

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