Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Not with a bang, but a yawn?

A quick thought before dashing out the door to help a friend move...

For SpaceShip One's first flight, the space community migrated en masse to Mojave. For today's flight, nobody seems to have gone, preferring instead the virtual experience of webcasts and CNN. In the first hours after that flight, the* newsgroups, the and the blogosphere comment pages were filled with exuberant postings.

After today's flight, the atmosphere seems much more subdued. Is this because of the (pilot induced we know now) roll problems? Is it because the recent announcement of Virgin Galactic creates a feeling that the deal is done?

In the past various writers on space issues have made much of the fact that media coverage of space flights, and the apparent public interest, dropped after Apollo 11. (The 'live' TV broadcast from Odyssey during Apollo 13 is often cited as the poster child of this effect.) Yet here we have seemingly the same effect with commercial space flight... Among the various folks that have in the past professed the most interest.


At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was surprised and disapointed to get home from
work and not find more discussion of the SS1
flight. I think it is signifigant that the ship
is able to accomplish its' mission in spite of
problems. This seems to show a robust side of
reusable vehicles that can be tweeked.

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I trekked from Portland to Mojave for the last flight, but stayed home and raptly watched the webcast for this one (it would be interesting to know how many webcast viewers there were). Being at Mojave was great, mostly for the feeling of camraderie, but frankly there wasn't much to see -- just a fine white line streaking directly in front of the sun. Ouch. The best thing I actually saw at Mojave was getting boomed by WhiteKnight -- THAT was fun! -- but otherwise I have to say the view from the webcast was considerably better.

With a better setup -- viewing stands to the south of the launch zones, large-screen TVs broadcasting the views from tracking telescopes, et cetera -- I am certain that attending launches will be a thoroughly thrilling activity. I imagine that this is what they'll do with the X-Prize Cup, and I certainly plan on being there.

-- Nathan Koren


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