Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, September 10, 2004

  SpaceShipOne's launch crowd

I just volunteered for SpaceShipOne's launch crowd on Sept 29th, 2004. It is also (and, I hope, not coincidentally in the minds of many) the day my favorite asteroid, Toutatis, make the closest approach to earth of nearly any major asteroid, roughly 1.6m km - or only 4 times the distance from here to the moon -

that's a short hop to some of the most desirable real estate in the solar system - packing billions of tons of useful materials and radiation shielding, on an elliptical orbit that leads to Venus, Mars, the Belt, and the moons of Jupiter....

Traditionally, I hold a party for that - an asteroid appreciation day - instead, I'll be in the Mojave desert, with 30,000+ people, urging on the first contestant for the Ansari X-Prize, SpaceShipOne, helping willing a private spacecraft 100km above the Earth, and doing whatever is needed to help the team get there. It's really the first time since I was a member of the L5 society in the 80s, that I've done anything concrete, real, physical, connected to space.

As an oft-lonely space advocate, I'm really jazzed about sharing space - touching it - in the desert with so many others who share the same dream.

I won't mind missing Toutatis, this time.

Heinlein said - "Once you reach earth orbit - you're halfway to anywhere." Only months after the US and USSR put their first men in suborbit - we had men IN orbit -

and I hope, feverently, that this start to private spaceflight makes all my childhood dreams of colonizing the solar system a reality before I retire from this earth, too. We're a long way to orbit, but one day, maybe even in the next 10 years, we will be sending men and women into space, to stay - and maybe, one day, 20 or 30 years later, my sweetie and I could go ourselves, like I feverently dreamed we could so many years ago.

However: I'm glad I can put all those fevered dreams aside, for a day, and just concentrate on crowd control and the 80 seconds of pure joy in the launch itself. For now. But I can't help looking at Simone, and Dawn, and daydreaming of SpaceShipNinetyThree....
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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