Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Man Who Sold the Moon

If you've been living under a rock, you may not have noticed that several private companies are finally getting into the space game. Only 53 years after Robert Heinlein wrote the "The Man Who Sold The Moon" about a private space venture by a rich businessman.

Bert (of Voyager round-the-world flight fame) Rutan's effort, with the un-innovative name SpaceShipOne is now scheduled to go to orbit later this month. Notice, I didn't say "blast off", because the private enterprise efforts eschew the government's rocket method which throws away up to 99.8% of your launch mass before you get out of the atmosphere. SpaceShipOne takes off slung under the White Knight carrier aircraft, similar to the way that NASA's shuttle rides on top of a 747 for transport.

Rutan's company Scaled Composites, which is behind SpaceShipOne, is being funded by Microsoft alum (and rich businessman) Paul Allen. I wonder if the timing of the launch was intentionally done to line up with the opening of Allen's new Science Fiction museum here in Seattle.


Post a Comment

<< Home