SpaceShipOne has successfully been into space and back for the second time in a week, and has won the Ansari ‘X Prize’.
I think this is fabulous. Since most governments no longer have the adventurous spirit that lets them do manned space missions, or since the people who elect them don’t, we have to rely on individuals. One of the participants, (Burt Rutan, I think), said something along the following lines (from memory):
The way space travel has been done in the past makes people think that only governments could do it. Part of the importance of the Wright Brothers’ flight was that they were just in a bike shed, and people thought, ‘Hey, if he can do it, so can I!’.
Wilbur and Orville didn’t have $20M of Paul Allen’s money behind them, but the concept is right. This is still a completely different ball game from the Space Shuttle and I think it does mark the start of a new era.