With the ship back on the ground and the speechifying in progress, I now have a bit of time to pontificate on the importance of this event.
Some of you understand intuitively. Few outside a small circle of friends fully comprehend the magnitude of the breakthrough. Getting into space is not about technology. It is about money. It is about risk, markets, business plans, insurance, and raising capital. It is about the metacontext. The metacontext which died in the desert sun this morning carried built in assumptions that space is for governments; space is expensive; space is too risky for business.
Now we know differently. Paul Allen funded Rutan’s two craft from concept to suborbital space flight for around $20 million. In the aerospace world this is pocket change. Design studies cost that much, let alone TWO working vehicles.
The media came. The coverage has been beyond my wildest expectations. This is the second element required. Not only has the metacontext been smashed; everyone knows it.
Two more flights are required to collect the X-Prize. Today’s did not carry the extra weight to simulate two passengers, at least not to my knowledge, so this flight does not count for the prize. Scaled Composites has said they will give the media 60 days notice. If true, that is August at the earliest. This makes the Apollo Landing anniversary of July 20th an unlikely date.
SpaceShipOne is not a Commercial tourist spaceship. It is the pre-cursor. The success we have seen today makes it clear to the investment community that the regulatory problems are manageable; the risk is manageable… Most importantly they now know we are not all stark raving bonkers. We really can do this.
The investors will come now. The decades of the Pyramid builders is nearly at an end. Linear growth via government funding will now be replaced by the exponential power of the market.
This is indeed what free men and women can do.