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Thursday, June 10, 2004
Mojave Prepares to Make Space History
The small desert town of Mojave, California is bracing for a close encounter with space history later this month as the first privately funded rocket plane attempts to soar to the edge of space.
Oddly, this tourist stopover for people en route to the largest open pit borax mine, as well as nearby gold and silver mining ghost towns from the 1890’s, is also a nexus for technology and innovation. A dry and sandy expanse of remote landscape, Mojave has historic roots that run deep through decades of American aerospace progress.
To the east of Mojave is Edwards Air Force Base, home for legendary pilots and milestone making aircraft. The NASA X-15 rocket plane, for instance, roared to life high above the Mojave landscape for nearly a decade, piercing the sky to attain speed and altitude records starting in the late 1950’s.
Fast forward to the 21st century and Mojave Airport, also known as the Civilian Flight Test Center -- and soon to be the first inland spaceport. It has taken center stage in making public space travel both real and reasonable.
Mojave Airport is homeport for Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne, presently being readied for a June 21 mission to become the world’s first commercial piloted space vehicle. If all goes by the book, the craft will rocket to some 62 miles (100 kilometers) altitude above Earth, flying a sub-orbital trajectory above the commercial airport, followed by a glide back to a runway stop.
Call it a space travel version of early aeronautics: A mix of white scarf, goggles, and a rudder stick gripped by sweaty palms.
The point is to demonstrate that the space frontier is open to private enterprise. More to the point is that SpaceShipOne could signal a breakthrough in access to space for the "ground-bound" majority.
Meanwhile, the Mojave Chamber of Commerce is doing city business by tagging the June 21st public invited event as "Space Day". A Space Day fundraiser form has been made available for non-profit organizations in Mojave and California City to file in order to be considered for participating in the sale of souvenirs and food during the upcoming flight of SpaceShipOne. A "mandatory meeting" at the local Camelot Golf Course was recently held for all organizations interested in participating.
Woodstock of space? Read More
An other good article to read: http://www.lacitybeat.com/article.php?id=970&IssueNum=53
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