Friday, February 03, 2006

Space Travel Goes Mainstream

Last year, The Ansari X-Prize $10,000,000 purse was awarded to the SpaceShipOne team for being the first commercial enterprise to put a man in space and bring him back to earth safely, twice in quick succession.

Since then, a new enterprise has been born, the Rocket Racing League. From's article:
Launched last October by Whitelaw and Peter Diamandis, whose Ansari X Prize awarded $10 million for the first privately built manned spaceship in 2004, the Rocket Racing League, or RRL, has already flown a prototype rocket plane and is now building the first of 10 planned X-Racers. Three-time space shuttle astronaut and former Air Force test pilot Rick Searfoss, who serves as RRL's chief test pilot, called the rocket racers "a real kick in the pants" after a test flight in October. Searfoss compared their performance characteristics to those of fighter planes because of their high thrust-to-weight ratio.

The promise of that kind of flying excitement is what attracted Don "Dagger" Grantham and Robert "Bobaloo" Rickard to sign on as members of the RRL's first team, called Leading Edge Rocket Racing. Both men are F-16 fighter pilots as well as entrepreneurs, and they see rocket racing as the next great flying experience.

"We started talking about 10 or 15 or 20 years from now," said Rickard, "when there are no more airplanes for fighter pilots to fly and everything's done remotely with unmanned vehicles. What's going to happen to guys like us that want to fly fighters and pull 9 Gs and do all the things that we get to do now?" To Rickard and Grantham, the answer was obvious: They'll fly rocket racers.

The world is truly becoming a different, intriguing, and exciting place. Imagine where our kids might get to go...

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