Okay, so I sorted through 3,000+ RSS items in SharpReader and now have 427 I want to post. Do you care? No. Do you wish I won't post them all at once? Yes. You will get your wish.
So - space. While I was out, SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X-Prize! That's pretty terrific, privately financed space tourism and exploration is finally out of the blocks. And with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic we may soon have a fleet of these things, flying us to space. Excellent. [ Xeni Jardin was there, and links Alan Radecki's excellent pics. What a photogenic spacecraft, eh? ]
Now if we could just get that Space Tourism Bill passed :)
In other news, today I received SpaceX's bimonthly update email (also posted online). What an exciting company, and they're just about to launch their first rocket! SpaceX ultimately aims to send tourists into orbit, which is about 25X harder (in terms of energy required) than "reaching space". They're going to prove out their technology by launching satellites first.
And meanwhile Messenger continues on toward Mercury! (With gravity assists from Venus.)
And Randall Parker wonders: Can We Finally Retire the Space Shuttle? "It is my hope that the success of SpaceShipOne and the coming flights of SpaceShipTwo and other private spacecraft designs will allow the American public to get over their emotional attachment to the Space Shuttle. People no longer need to invest their hopes for space exploration in the Shuttle. We can relegate the Shuttle to history as an obsolete and flawed design." Biggest difference? The shuttle was built by the government, not private industry.