Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Da Vinci team next?

Fox News just had John Pike (of Global Security) on, saying that a Canadian team, "Da Vinci," is planning to make their first X-prize flight within a couple of days, I think. I'm not familiar with them, and I'm excited for an American team to win the X-prize, but I'm excited that there's going to be some real competition.

The private manned space industry can only be helped by having active competition within its ranks.

Ansari Cup?

Fox News' William Lajeuness is interviewing Rick ...Somebodyoranother about the X-Prize. The reporter just asked him about suggestions that the group that put up the X-Prize might come up with a regular event--the "Ansari (sp?) Cup," perhaps. Give annual awards for speed and altitude.

This strikes me as an excellent idea. I'm reminded of the early 20th century aviation competitions, which of course are in the minds of the entrepeneurs involved with the X-Prize, as well.

There are some objections that this is all a bad idea, because at some point, somebody's going to die. This strikes me as a frustratingly risk-averse mindset. Of *course* somebody's going to die someday. In the early days of aviation, a *lot* of people died. The early deaths did not prevent people from continuing to work in this field, nor did they destroy the industry. Here we are in the 21st century, taking planes regularly. The industry survived and thrived.


SpaceShipOne is now at the apogee of its flight! I'm watching the Fox camera, which is able to follow it all the way to the top of its flight. Very weird to be able to see a resolved spacecraft while it's actually in space.

It's coming down pretty fast now, getting bigger and bigger in the TV. Wow--the fins are really maneouverable. He's tilting them up by 45 deg., easily, now moving them back to horizontal.

Drop lauch at about 11:15 AM EDT

Fox News is reporting that SpaceShipOne will separate from its mothership, White Knight, at about 11:15 AM EDT.

SpaceShipOne: First X-Prize Launch

Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne has just taken off in the Mojave Desert for the first *qualification* flight for the Ansari X-Prize. His first space flight the other month was just with a one-man crew, while the X-Prize flights require either a three-man crew, or carrying the equivalent weight.

The carrier plane, White Knight, just took off a few minutes ago, and it will do the drop launch about 35-40 minutes from now.

If this is successful, Rutan will need to do repeat this within two weeks to win the prize.

I'll be blogging this to the extent that I can, today.

SpaceShipOne: First X-Prize Launch