Monday, October 04, 2004

... Not because it is hard

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. - JFK, Rice University, 09/12/62

Today, ladies and gentlemen, the profit motive triumphed. In case you haven't heard, the Ansari X-Prize was won by Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne.

Now, what does that mean? Primarily, it means that Scaled Composites, funded mainly by Paul Allen of Microsoft, was just awarded $10M for their efforts. In addition to this, Virgin's investment in Scaled Composites has just paid off. Their name was tatood on the arse of SpaceShipOne.

But really, what does that mean? Does it mean that we are going to be going to space? All things considered, yes. For 90 seconds. At $200 000 a pop.

What else does it mean? Were certain barriers broken in the pursuit of leaving this rock? Yes, yes they were. Instead of having a ship launch from the ground, they strapped SpaceShipOne to White Knight (an airplane), and had it launch while in the air. That's cool, actually, as it saves on the required fuel for launch. But don't missles do this already?

What about the landing? Was that revolutionary? Well, no. Have your ship glide for a while --> deploy landing gear --> land.

I hate to be cynical about this, but I really am. I really want to go to space. I really want humanity to go to space. But I don't see it happening any time soon, just based on the fact that no new technologies were employed.

Oh, on the plus side, this makes up for what happened with Shuttle Columbia.


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