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Friday, June 18, 2004
Next SpaceShipOne Articles update
rferl.org: First Private Manned Space Mission Set To Blast Off
A commercial aerospace company is planning to launch the first private manned mission to space. If successful, the spacecraft's creators will be a step closer to winning a $10 million dollar offered as an incentive for private industry to catch up with government space programs. But can the private sector really reinvigorate space exploration as some backers claim?
On 21 June, a unique space mission is set to take off from the Mojave Desert in the U.S. state of California.
First, an elegant airplane called the "White Knight" will take off from the runway with a three-person spacecraft slung under its belly. About 15 kilometers over the desert, the spacecraft, called "SpaceShipOne," will detach from the larger carrier plane and fire its rockets, blasting off to an altitude of 100 kilometers -- the edge of space. It will spend just three minutes outside the Earth's atmosphere, and then coast back down to the airport where crowds of spectators will be waiting.
ecommercetimes.com: Space Travel Ready To Go Private
"SpaceShipOne already has some impressive successes on the way to space, and I think it has a good chance of making it the rest of the way," said Marc Rayman, director of NASA's DeepSpace 1 mission, which successfully tested a new spacecraft propulsion system and other technologies.
Commercial aviation began within a decade of the Wright Brothers' 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk. Yet 43 years after Yuri Gagarin's first manned space flight, you still can't book a seat on a regularly scheduled spaceship.
Weather and technology permitting, the era of commercial manned space flight finally may open next week, when the first privately developed rocket plane is scheduled to launch into history.
upi.com: Space Race II: A 'private' astronaut
A series by United Press International exploring the people, passions and business of sub-orbital manned spaceflight.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., June 18 (UPI) -- Like many kids growing up in the 1960s and early '70s, Peter Diamandis dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Actually, he did more than dream.
At the soulful age of 9, with the Apollo 13 drama unfolding on national television, shy little Peter sat in his fourth-grade science class in Mount Vernon, N.Y, listening to a classmate present a report about planets.
"In that moment I felt like there was nothing more important in the world than exploring space," said Diamandis, now 43. Everything in my life became about space. Every school book I owned I littered with doodles of rockets and far-away planets."
So he followed the path of all ambitious, bright students who wanted to fly in space and got himself accepted at a prestigious university -- the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Then Diamandis topped his undergraduate and master's degrees with a medical degree from Harvard. He confesses the med school bit was his parents' idea, but once he realized becoming a doctor would help his chances of being accepted into the astronaut corps, he went along with their wishes.
Then something very sobering happened: an astronaut told him the straight scoop about life at NASA.
"First off, he told me your chances of getting in to the astronaut corps are maybe one in 1,000, and even if you are accepted your chances of flying are 50-50. To get to fly you have to be very well-behaved, you have to do and say everything you are told, and you have to follow the rules. Then, if you're lucky, you might get two flights during your career," Diamandis told United Press International.
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