I was walking to lunch today when I happened to glance into the campus store. The big screen was projecting CNN’s coverage of the first half of Scaled Composite’s attempt to win the X-Prize. I walked in just as they launched the rocket and stared, glued to the screen with my jaw hanging down, until they safely landed it. Did anyone else’s heart stop when the rocket started to roll? They’re scheduled to make their second flight in six days, which — if successful — will make them the official prize winning team. Unbelievable. In less than fifty years, achieving suborbital flight has gone from being too financially and intellectually expensive for any entity but national governments, to being doable by a number of small teams working with just a fistful of cash.

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