This week brought back memories of my trip to Mojave one warm summer day, eons ago, back in 2004. In a historic first commercial space flight, Mike Melville, aboard SpaceShipOne and WhiteKnight, made it to the edge of space to experience the brief moment of weightlessness.
This week also brought back my many planned but unsuccessful trips to Florida to watch a launch. Back in 2010 when NASA announced the end of Space Shuttle Flights, I remember the unsuccessful trip of waiting in Florida for Discovery’s last flight. I never got to see the launch.
Then there was the time, I made it to KSC one fine morning to watch the launch of Orion. After hours of waiting, the mission was scrubbed and launched the next day which of course I missed.
On July 11th, VSS Unity, a SpaceShipTwo category, rocket powered crewed spaceplane with 6 people on board including Richard Branson, made the successful trip to the edge of space and successfully returned.
Ten days later, Jeff Bezos along with two two history-making passengers: 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, the oldest person to fly in space, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student who is the youngest ever to fly in space blasted off to the edge of space aboard New Shepard and successfully returned to earth.
Seems eons ago that SpaceShipOne paved the way to commercial space flight, but the last ten days and the two trips definitely are key milestones that will usher in the next era of commercial space flight that will open the door for many to reach the edge of space: go where very few men and women have gone!