I just got back from the Mojave Airport, where i saw the successful takeoff and landing of the World's first commercial space ship, SpaceShipOne. I arrived on Sunday night at around 11pm and was one of the first people to park. Upon exiting my car i was greeted by 30-40mph winds that were blasting sand, painfully fast, from the North.
I quickly opted not to set up my tent and instead got back in to my car and went to sleep. When i woke up it was 5 am and the parking lot had filled up with thousands of cars.
I took out my chair, radios, spotting scope and water and walked over to the edge of the runway where i saw thousands of people gathering to see a moment in history. I sat down near some Hams who were listening to the tower on their radios... they gave me the frequency and i punched it into my Yaesu.
I listened to the flight controllers talk to the assorted planes and helicopters that were arriving at the airport. Eventually i heard them tell the pilot of the White Knight, which carried SpaceShipOne on its back, that it was clear for takeoff... I took some pictures of the WK taxiing and some sprawling crowd shots.
The Hams asked me if i had found the intercom channel, which i hadn't, so
i began scanning, and eventually found it 127.750. It was really cool to be able to hear the conversations between the Scaled Composites ground support and the White Knight and SpaceshipOne. Pretty soon the countdown to release was begun on the intercom channel... SS1 was armed and to the delight of the crowd the rockets fired and the SS1 shot off like a bat out of hell.
The whole thing was pretty spectacular and the crowd was very excited, screaming and cheering and being a generally jovial bunch of geeks. After about 10 minutes after the pilot had left the Earth's atmosphere and traveled to about 62.5 miles above Terra Firma, the SS1 began it's decent and in just a few minutes landed to the delight of the crowd.
The Mojave Airport was transformed into it's new persona, Spaceport Mojave, and we were ushered into a new space age. In our lives we will see commercial space travel and tourism. I am looking forward to seeing the SS1 attain orbit and win the X Prize. I am glad to have been a part of this great moment in history.
The rest of the photos can be found here.
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