The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

SPACECRAFT THAT GOES NOWHERE
booster
Evoking the famous NASA X-15 spaceplane that never happened, aircraft designer Burt Rutan has developed a hybrid rocket-airplane that can take three people into low-level orbit.

I realize technical developments move forward in baby-steps, but still, I have to ask: What real purpose does this spaceplane have? I mean, great, so it can boost itself into orbit for a duration of about 20 minutes. Then what? I mean, you can't actually go anywhere from there. All it's good for is some exotic sightseeing, because it's not built for anything more than that. It's a stripped-down version of the Space Shuttle, and it can't even make it to a space station for docking. It strikes me as nothing more than a rich boy's toy.

On the other hand, I do like the star-spangled paint job on the rocket.