SpaceShipOne started its pursuit of the X-Prize today by launching from the Mojave Spaceport today. While the flight appeared to have some issues (the rolling post ignition reared its ugly head once more), the flight was successful. Rutan and Co. have two weeks from today at 11:34 AM EDT to make a second flight to the 100km altitude.
It’s difficult to say at this point just how significant this prize could be. Cheap, efficient, and solid technology to orbit payloads in the hands of private business and citizens will revolutionize the way we think about and use space. The difficult part is to say how this revolution will materialize. Will we vacation in space? Will we finally start to reach beyond the surface of this planet in numbers? Will science finally have a way to experiment and manufacture things in ultra-low gravity?
Aeronautics changed the way we think of the world; places once off the grid are now accesible just by changing planes. Extrapolate that concept to space flight and then you start to get really excited about the potential that is quickly becoming part of our lives.
Spaceflight Now running commentary
Link to Slashdot discussion