Another step closer to private space travel: SpaceShipOne safely soared towards space and back on Wednesday, and is reported unofficially to have reached it 100 kilometre (328,000) altitude target. If so, it leaves its team with just one more flight to go to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize for pioneering commercial human spaceflight. … If Wednesday’s flight is confirmed to have reached the required altitude, SpaceShipOne will have to make one more successful flight within 14 days to scoop the X Prize. That purse will go to the first privately-developed vehicle that is able to ferry three people to a height of 100 kilometres twice in two weeks. The second flight must also reuse 90% of the craft’s mass, not including fuel – in line with the goal of developing reusable launch vehicles with quick launch turnaround times. Even bigger than the X Prize is Richard Branson’s commitment to invest $100 million in the team that created SpaceShipOne, in order to offer passenger trips to space by 2007.
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.