A space race for a new millennium
13 years ago
After the first privately funded spaceflight June 21, there is now a whole new meaning of “to the moon Alice.”
Reaching over 62 miles above ground, Michael Melvill is the first person to pilot a privately made and funded aircraft into outer space.
That’s freaking cool.
SpaceShipOne was designed by Burt Rutan and cost $20 million to create. And I admit, he kept his hobby pretty well hidden since its conception in 1996.
I never imagined that anyone would go into space apart from NASA – I guess I didn’t even think it was allowed.
And starting next year, anyone with $100,000 can take that same sub-orbital flight.
Mind you, that’s the price of a small home to not even completely orbit around earth – just a trajectory to around 62 miles above earth and fall back down.
If you wanted to fly to the space station you’d have to cough up $20 million like N’Sync singer Lance Bass tried to back in 2002.
So, what does this mean for people on earth?
Well, first off we’re going to have to change all of our catchy sayings like, “I’ll give you the world” and “You mean the world to me,” because they just aren’t going to be big enough.
Second, the word astronaut will be applicable to any person who exceeds 50 miles above ground. Now, you’ll have to spell it with a lowercase “a” because a “proper” Astronaut can only come from NASA (as of right now).
Third, the conspiracy of no one ever going to the moon and that it was just a governmental ploy will be easily dismissed.
Oh the possibilities – I just love thinking about it.
It’s funny to think that two generations from now they will contemplate how we ever existed without space flight, kind of like how the previous generation survived without computers.
And never fear, we haven’t lost our “last frontier,” so Star Trek won’t have to change its opening slogan. And, there won’t be a need for a Fredrick Jackson Turner essay about losing our last true frontier, because space is ever expanding. It’s always getting bigger, therefore there will always be more to explore.
But, as I sit here getting giddy just thinking that I could go to space and actually “see” the world, I can’t help but think of digital cameras. Yes, digital cameras.
I really want one, but it has taken so long for the price to become cheap enough for my standards.
And just like that ubiquitous digital camera, so will be space flight.
$20 million is a lot of money, and I don’t know if I’ll live long enough for the price to be cheap enough for a joe-shmoe like me to travel into space.
On a more serious note, this is a life-changing event I am proud to have experienced.
The 1950s had Sputnik, and now in the 2000s we have SpaceShipOne. We are at the dawn of a new era, as trite at that sounds, because we, as a world, will have access more than just our own planet.
While we won’t be able to visit Pluto personally just yet – it’s a 22 year roundtrip – we have otherworldly opportunities that most of us never imagined we could have.
Growing up we never thought cartoons like The Jetsons would come true. But, you never know.