On this day five years ago, Brian Binnie won the Ansari X PRIZE by hurtling out of the atmosphere faster than a rifle bullet. It was the second time in less than a week that SpaceShipOne made the trip from Mojave Airport, fulfilling the prize requirement for a back-to-back flight by a commercial spaceship.
Even as Brian was circling to his high altitude launch point attached to the belly of White Knight, down on the ground I was closing the deal for my first feature story in a national magazine. Brian’s triumph was mine as well; the X PRIZE launched my career as a journalist.
In that moment, anything seemed possible, even a struggling science fiction writer with a theater degree becoming a nationally known aerospace journalist.
Brian tells the story of our generation’s moon shot on the Huffington Post. I never tire of him describing the “blessed peace and quiet and the instant karma of weightlessness.”
And then, my God, that view! Separating the black void that is space from the peaceful panorama below is a thin blue electric ribbon of light that is the atmosphere. For 4 minutes I got to soak it all in. I tell you, one cannot be unmoved by the experience!
After I helped file a story for Reuters, I drove up the coast to my family’s vacation spot near Santa Barbara, and my wife and I made our first baby. Which is why my book Rocketeers is dedicated to “my X PRIZE baby.”