Monday, October 04, 2004

Mankind in Space

Today, 47 years to the day Sputnik 1 was launched, we yet again witness the birth of another space era. While most people slept through this morning, something of consequence happened today. Team SpaceShipOne, led by Burt Rutan, completed today the race to the world's first purely civilian flight into space, winning the prestigious 10 million dollar X-Prize, beating 26 other teams - when the ship touched down in Mojave Desert.

The task was to fly into space to an altitude of 100 kms, and fly back within two weeks again, with a payload of three humans, and return safely to Earth. Which the team did, making it the first team to win the X-Prize. It's the dawn of another space age, one led by a small but motivated group of men that has achieved something great. Until today, all flights into space have been government funded, government organized and flown by government trained astronauts - the world over. For the first time, civilians have done it. In some senses, it's a triumph of innovation over mediocricity. When the Wright brothers flew over Kitty Hawk, nobody knew or cared, until later - when the consequences of their actions were fully realized. Today's flight was something similar - while most TV channels were showing fools busy fighting over what should be done for our betterment, these guys were out taking man to space - literally. BoingBoing, CNN and Space.com have more details, on the flight. I would also strongly recommend seeing the powerpoint presentation that the X-Prize foundation has made. So, here's to the future of mankind... in space!!!