SpaceShip One

Hip, hip, hurray!

Update May 22, 2018: With SpaceX in the news almost every other day and seriously looking like they really will send out a Mars expedition plus Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic quietly doing their things, I’m taking a look back at the day SpaceShip On won the Ansari X-Prize for private space flight…

Originally Published October 4, 2004:

SpaceShipOne Wins Ten-Million-Dollar X Prize

I admit, I’m just a bit excited. Regular manned space travel had been made to seem unattainable by years of government domination and the huge expenditures typical of government projects. As a space nut and a free market nut, I can’t help but be excited to see a reusable craft built by private industry for about 4% of the cost of a single flight of the government’s space shuttle.

They haven’t achieved orbital flight or dealt with an orbital reentry, but for comparison purposes the International Space Station’s orbit is 220 miles and SpaceShipOne has made it over 60 miles three times. It’s an oversimplification to say that one more trip and they’ll have made the distance, they just need a bigger fuel tank, but the first 60 miles really were the hardest part. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Richard Branson or Burt Rutan planting a flag on the moon before NASA makes it again.