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Monday, June 14, 2004
PressTelegram: Companies want to put you into orbit
Aviation visionary Burt Rutan has a lot of weightlessness riding on his shoulders.
In seven days, Rutan's latest creation, SpaceShipOne, is scheduled to rocket into suborbital space, 62 miles above the Mojave Desert.
It would be the first nongovernment flight to leave the earth's atmosphere if successful.
But for Rutan and the billionaire backer of SpaceShipOne, Paul Allen, co-founder of MicroSoft, a successful mission could be an historic kicking open of the door to commercial space flight for private citizens, an industry that Rutan said could generate billions in revenue.
Imagine weightlessness for three to four minutes. Seeing the brilliant blue oceans of Earth, wispy white clouds floating above, and the planet's curved horizon. Black space dotted with stars, clearer than ever imagined on the ground.
More than 150 people already can't wait and have plopped down $6,000 deposits with one travel agency. Eventually they would likely pay up to $100,000 for the ride of their life and aerospace observers say the market could be endless.
"The thing with space flight is it's not in the public conscience,' Rutan said last week from the SpaceShipOne flight complex at the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center, a commercial airport in the Mojave desert.
"Within the next 12 to 15 years you will be able to buy a ticket and be an astronaut. And at a price you can afford with your salary,' Rutan said. Read More
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