SpaceShipOne as a “Kitty Hawk moment”

In an essay in this week’s issue of The Space Review, Bob Clarebrough called the 2004 flights of SpaceShipOne a “Kitty Hark moment”: “that instant when the impossible becomes a reality.” Clarebrough mentions this because suborbital passenger spaceflight has not yet won broad acceptance, pointing to some cynical commentary in both the American and British press in the post-SS1 era. That, he argues, is akin to the lack of acceptance of aviation after the Wright Brothers’ flight, all the way until Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight. Clarebrough advises people to ignore the naysayers and focus on the future: “Every plane, rocket, and spaceship lifts off with a cargo of dreams. We may not know precisely how long it will take for those dreams to be fully realized, but let’s cut the pioneers some slack.”

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