Beyond the X prize

 作者:暴脐     |      日期:2019-03-03 05:15:13
By Greg Klerkx THE sight of Burt Rutan folding his lanky, six foot four inch frame into his Mini Cooper reminded me of the old circus trick in which a dozen clowns pile out of a miniature car, one by one. “Great little thing,” Rutan said admiringly as he revved it into life. “Bit tight on space, but I’m used to that.” I understood what he meant. I had just spent half an hour with my considerably smaller self crammed into the cockpit of the spaceship he designed, the rather literally named SpaceShipOne, gazing out of its porthole windows and imagining myself viewing the curve of the Earth from sub-orbital space. Unfortunately, the actual view was more mundane: the inside of the busy Mojave workshop of Rutan’s company, Scaled Composites, where SS1 is being prepared for a historic flight. After a minute or so, Rutan climbed in and sat in the seat next to me. “See,” he said with a boy’s grin and a distinct flash of joy in his bright blue eyes. “Plenty of room.” Rutan’s tiny rocket plane has already shaken the foundations of the space world once, when on 21 June this year it became the first privately funded manned craft to go into space. If all goes to plan, on 29 September SS1 will begin its attempt to fly into the record books again, and collect $10 million into the bargain. Rutan’s team is the odds-on favourite to win the Ansari X prize,