Knight Of The Mind

I'll do my best to present a philosophical and generally conservative look at current events and life, the universe and everything. Readers are invited to take all that's posted herein with a grain of salt. or if they prefer, a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Greetings and welcome. My name is Steve, I'm 35 years old and I work for the US Army as an Operations Research Analyst. Hence my blog title Knight Of The Mind.

Monday, June 21, 2004

The Final Frontier

Another technological barrier just fell by the wayside. A man named Mike Melville has flown "Spaceship One", the first entirely private spaceship, into space. It rode into the heavens aboard a carrier aircraft called "White Knight".

The mission itself won't drop any jaws or break new technical ground. The significant fact is that this is the first time private industry has ever launched man into space. This begins an entire new era of expansion into the final frontier.

Paul G. Allen, who leads Vulcan Inc., sponsored and financed the effort. Chief Engineer Burt Rutan has successfully developed the first ever spacecraft that did not require government funding. With Melville's success, Rutan also makes history. He understands this well and lays it out brilliantly below.

“Since Yuri Gagarin and Al Shepard’s epic flights in 1961, all space missions have been flown only under large, expensive Government efforts. By contrast, our program involves a few, dedicated individuals who are focused entirely on making spaceflight affordable,” said Burt Rutan. “Without the entrepreneur approach, space access would continue to be out of reach for ordinary citizens. The SpaceShipOne flights will change all that and encourage others to usher in a new, low-cost era in space travel.”

With today's unabashed success, mankind's exploration of space will open up like never before. The power of private industry has the power to put us on the moon or Mars decades before a similar, publicly financed effort. The US government can want our nation in space with all its heart, but only our scientists and engineers that work in our corporate sector can put us there.

This parallels the colonization of North America by England and France. Both countries wanted to plant colonies abroad, but it was the English Joint Stock Companies and the French fur trading outfits that could afford to launch the truly large emigrations that eventually settled the North American continent. Business built America even when we were still just a series of colonies.

The same will eventually hold true for space. The technology may not exist yet to make star travel a part of anyone's 401K portfolio, but the impetus will soon be there. "Spaceship One" and "White Knight" will both provide barrels of short term red ink. They are, however, a phenomenal investment in the future of space commerce. A future that many of us got to watch start unfolding today.


As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

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