Here is a snapshot of this week's entry into the contest to fly privately into space.
The whole thing felt a little like Burning Man with more money and fewer naked hippies. Squint through the dust (which at times almost blew as hard as it does on the playa), and those big sponsor signs could almost pass for theme camp tents. Instead of bad trance music blaring in all directions, we heard bombastic symphonic overtures on the PA system every time SS-1 was about to do something important, like lift off or move from climb mode to glide mode.
The craft is fueled by nitrous oxide and rubber. I suppose this proves what many Hollywood clubbers have known for years -- that with a little latex and laughing gas, you can get to heaven.
Bear with me while I learn.
(It's also an interesting story, in case you're interested.)
They did it!
I'm not going to post links. The news is all over the place. As of today, October 4, 2004, commercial space flight is an official reality. Two successful flights in five days won the ten million dollar Ansari X Prize.