Headlines > News > Space.com: Space Barnstorming: The Risk and Rewards For Private Rocketeers

Space.com: Space Barnstorming: The Risk and Rewards For Private Rocketeers

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Fri Aug 13, 2004 3:09 pm
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chabot imageSpace.com: If privately-backed rockets fly straight and true, those successes will show that piloted space flight need not be a huge governmental undertaking. Investors may well beat a path to the doors of firms with even grander passenger-hauling space vehicles on the drawing boards.

On the other hand, it is clear that today’s “space barnstorming” also means risk-taking. Odds are that accidents will occur in flying homebuilt spaceships to the edge of space.

On the frontline of tackling the technology needed is Scaled Composites and their SpaceShipOne. They have had a series of successful test flights that culminated June 21 with the first civilian to fly a spaceship out of Earth’s atmosphere. But that flight was not without its problems.

Now on tap are back-to-back suborbital flights of SpaceShipOne from the Mojave, California spaceport. The first flight is set for September 29 to be followed by another hop within the following two weeks — all in the hopes of snaring the $10 million Ansari X Prize. That cash purse has been established to prime the rocket pumps, so to speak, to hasten the day of private space travel.

“Our success proves without question that manned space flight does not require mammoth government expenditures,” declared Burt Rutan, head of Scaled Composites after the June SpaceShipOne flight. “It can be done by a small company operating with limited resources and a few dozen dedicated employees.”

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