The Big Think

October 7, 2014

To Infinity… someday

Filed under: Space,Technology — jasony @ 1:18 pm

It’s Been 10 Years Since the X Prize—So Where Is My Space Taxi?:

“When SpaceShipOne rocketed out of the atmosphere over Mojave, California, on October 4, 2004, it reached suborbital space for the second time in less than a week and the third time that year, capturing the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

To those of us on the ground that morning, it seemed that the competition had done what X Prize founder Peter Diamandis had hoped, opening the door to commercial space travel. Not long after, Richard Branson bolstered our hopes by signing SpaceShipOne builder Scaled Composites to build a bigger craft, SpaceShipTwo, for his Virgin Galactic outfit. Branson promised that VG would soon fly paying passengers on suborbital flights, offering the chance to see the curvature of the earth and experience a few minutes of microgravity.

And here we are 10 years later, still stuck on the ground. SpaceShipOne hangs on display in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, and no other craft has duplicated its achievement. In the decade since the X Prize, Scaled has completed SpaceShipTwo and its White Knight 2 mothership. And this past January, the craft completed its third rocket-powered flight. But the spaceship still hasn’t reached the 62-mile Kármán line that marks the internationally accepted boundary of space.

As for Branson, his Virgin Galactic operation has been subject to repeated delays. He said last month that he now expects to inaugurate commercial service to space in February or March of 2015.”

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