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...SpaceShipOne has won the X-Prize!!!!!!

As I type this, it's on its way back from a maximum altitude of 368,000 feet on its second flight to claim the Ansari X Prize. The era of civilian commercial space flight has officially begun.

It's almost impossible to express how exciting this is. Manned private space flight is one of those things, like nanotechnology and molecular materials science, that changes everything. Now everything is possible. Private space stations. Space tourism. But none of that is nearly as exciting, or as important, as the idea that we are, haltingly, leaving our ancestral home.

This is vital, to our future as a species and to our survival as a species. We cannot stay here. If we do, we're doomed. The next species-ending catastrophe may not happen tomorrow, or two years from now, or two hundred years from now, but it will. It's just a question of time.

And we should not stay here. We alone among all the animals have the ability to understand ourselves and the universe. Sapience is how the universe knows itself. If we are to become what we are capable of becoming, we must leave the cradle. That won't happen until spaceflight is accessible and cheap.

What has been done today is more significant than the invention of the first crude dugout canoe. This is the next step in the same imperative that made us migrate out of Africa millennia ago. We now live in a time where we can see our way away from our homeworld. Very exciting times, these, and I am delighted to be living in them.

From the live Webcast:

And the person who made the X Prize possible:


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 4th, 2004 09:33 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for the stills from the Webcast!
Oct. 4th, 2004 10:13 am (UTC)
Great vidcaps of a magnificent flight. Ms. Ansari looks like quite a prize herself, of course. ;-)

I so hope that the inertia from this milestone is carried into further progress and greater achievements. Earth is great and all, but we deserve more. Now we have to prove it.
Oct. 4th, 2004 04:58 pm (UTC)
s. Ansari looks like quite a prize herself, of course. ;-)

meyow! you got that right!

Earth is great and all, but we deserve more.

too bad interplanetary space travel takes so long; but once we terraform mars, it will be worth it!
Oct. 5th, 2004 12:56 am (UTC)
We absolutely cannot stay here if we hope for our species to have a long-term future. The average lifespan of any particular species on earth is somewhere between 1-10 million years . Humans, as the genus Homo, have already been around somewhere between 2 and 4 million years, depending on how you like your fossil evidence sliced.

Being off the planet doesn't mean we can all thumb our nose at the huge-ass rock about the strike the earth, but our chances of surviving increase significantly if there are self-sufficient colonies out there to carry on . If they aren't self-sufficient, well, there's a comfy blue-green thing all ready to be resettled. All you have to do is go there.

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )