Monday, October 04, 2004

to infinity, and beyond

Burt Rutan's rocket project Spaceship One won the X-Prize today after a second successful manned flight through the threshold of space. Pilot Brian Binney also broke the altitude record set in August 1963 by Joseph A. Walker, who flew the X-15. Xeni's got a good write-up on the story over at BoingBoing.

Rutan has been rototilling conventional aerospace wisdom for decades, and despite the impressive array of competitors for the prize I always assumed he'd be the one to win. The guy builds airplanes (and rockets) by throwing out everything known about flight and seeing what actually works. He's like Da Vinci meets Buzz Lightyear.

I hope Rutan was right when he said that "I strongly feel that, if we are successful, our program will mark the beginning of a renaissance for manned space flight." His team's success in the first non-government manned space flight holds a lot of promise for space exploration, technological development, and (most importantly in my estimation) less militarized skies.