Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Final Frontier 
Outer space 'celebrated' two milestones yesterday - one sad, one exciting, both related.

Gordon Cooper - space pioneer and Project Mercury astronaut, passed away at the age of 77.

But the torch has finally, and very definitely, been passed to a new generation of space pioneers. SpaceShip One, the privately funded, privately owned prototype re-usable space vehicle designed by Burt Rutan and funded by Microsoft founder Paul Allen, yesterday won the Ansari X-Prize by successfully completeing its second manned space flight within a week, ushering in a new era of relatively cheap, private-enterprise space flight. Within days of the first flight, Richard Branson announced the founding of Virgin Galactic, the first commercial 'spaceline.'

DD Harriman must be itching to get on a ship and restless in his fictional grave, and his creator, Robert Heinlein, must be smiling in his real one.

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