Saturday, June 26, 2004

Mojave Road Trip, SpaceShipOne

In the middle of getting all the work done, I felt compelled to drive down with my two children to the Mojave Inland Spaceport. Along with a crowd of other people (reports vary, between 10,000 and 30,000) who believe that the spirit of exploration and enterprise fit hand in glove, we watched history made. At Scaled Composites you can see and read all about it.

Two high points stand out, to me: The collective energy, the surge of awe and hope, swelled in us all as the little ship went faster and faster. Our hair stood on end, we all hardly dared to breathe, we all shouted encouragement as chills played up our spines. The other was calling home to KFOG and filling in the Morning Show about what was going on. They must have popped onto the internet or they are really smart, because they asked me really intelligent questions: How high will it go, who is the pilot, why hasn't anyone done this before, where is the money coming from, and so on. We stayed at White's motel, which you can read all about in "The Right Stuff."

We had a tour of XCOR, which is the company that built the EZ Rocket and which I predict is involved in Burt and Allen's next project.

I actually expected to be not very impressed. How exciting can a 3-1/2 minute trip in space be for someone standing on the ground? But when the SS1 came in and landed, and they towed it past us with Mike Melville standing on top, the impact hit me: this ship was in space less than 30 minutes earlier. It was on the ground less than two hours before that. It can turn around and do it again. And other ships will get built which will do it, too.

The power here is that it's more gentle, and more quick, than anything a government has done. Its power is precisely that it can get up and get back, with an ease and style that the world has never seen before.

Hmm, that's sort of how I like to work, too. Quickly, with ease and grace.

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