Space dot com calls it the Cosmic Woodstock: on Monday, June 21, in the Mojave Desert, USA, Scaled Composites will try and fly a plane called SpaceShipOne into space horizontally for the first time. What is twice as exciting about this, is that Scaled Composites is not government funded: this is a privately owned company participating in the space launch ‘race’.
Horizontal take-off and re-usable space craft promise to bring down the cost of space faring drastically (as long as the American defense ministry does not dictate the other features of the space craft, as with the US Shuttle).
Currently, the Russian space agency charges a tourist approximately 20 million US$ for a nine-day trip. It is estimated that the actual launch of a Soyuz space craft costs 60 million US$, and the craft has three seats. Launch and flight costs of a craft like SpaceShipOne are likely to be in the area of hundreds of thousands of dollars, not dozens of millions. For comparisson, the launch of a Space Shuttle is said to cost around half a milliard dollars.
The launch is scheduled to take place at 6.30 Mojave time, which should be 15.30 Amsterdam time. CNN is said to provide live coverage, although I don’t know if the US state propaganda broadcaster will do that for the entire planet.