Eight years ago today, Mike Melvill flew SpaceShip One to an altitude of 100.124 kilometers, becoming the first pilot to qualify for the FAA’s commercial astronaut wings.

In centuries to come, June 21, 2004 will be remembered as the start of the real Space Age – the era when humans finally began to open up space in large numbers.

Today, however, it will pass largely unnoticed. The so-called “New Space” groups have their big parties to celebrate the launch of Yuri Gagarin and every Apollo landing. (There’s not much new about in “New” Space.)

We won’t be celebrating today, either. It’s been eight years since the X-Prize, and commercial suborbital flights haven’t started yet. The future is behind schedule. So, today is a day to remember but not to celebrate. That will come when the work is done.

Written by Astro1 on June 21st, 2012 , Scaled Composites, Space History

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