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Black Sky: The Race for Space (2004)

TV Movie  -   -  Documentary  -  3 October 2004 (USA)
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The remarkable story of Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne. Only three of the most powerful governments in the world have achieved what they set out to do from a garage in the Mojave desert: to put a man in space.

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Credited cast:
Jim Benson ...
Brian Binnie ...
Cory Bird ...
John Campbell ...
Korey Kline ...
Steve Losey ...
Mike Melvill ...
Sally Melvill ...
Burt Rutan ...
Doug Shane ...
Peter Siebold ...
Matt Steinmetze ...
Jim Tighe ...


The remarkable story of Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne. Only three of the most powerful governments in the world have achieved what they set out to do from a garage in the Mojave desert: to put a man in space.

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spaceshipone | rutan | See All (2) »







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3 October 2004 (USA)  »

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So much fanfare for so little achieved
7 February 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

First of all this is a pretty good documentary, but too much of a love-fest for Rutan.

Spaceship 1 has achieved very, very little. It got up to over 100km, the edge of space, but it wasn't going fast enough to even complete one partial orbit. Compare this to 60 years ago, when Werner Von Braun sent a rocket sent his V2 rockets almost as high & traveling a darned sight faster. True there was no passenger & no attempt at a controlled re-entry, but this was 60 years before & there was no "first stage" to get it up t 30,000ft unlike Spaceship 1. This is "progress"???? Basically Spaceship 1 expended all its energy on getting high, there was no attempt to orbit, which is a feat that requires a lot more speed & a considerably larger expenditure of energy.

Rutan did the absolute minimum possible to win the prize, I doubt the original people behind setting the criteria imagined that anyone would simply throw an object up & then wait for it to come down. This was all about orbital space flight, which Spaceship 1 clearly failed to do.

I dislike his "aw shucks" hick mentality when it comes to government, a trait betraying his narrow mindedness & ego centric mentality. I remember a sign being waved (albeit not by Rutan) when Spaceship 1 landed, it read "Spaceship 1, Government 0".... so what about all the Mercury, Apollo, Spacelab & Shuttle flights? Shouldn't that sign read Spaceship 1, Government 120??? Rutan also has a cheek with regard to development. He knew what he was getting in to, thanks to the government funded space program. Back in the 1950s & 1960s no one knew for sure & progress was hesitant. If he hates government so much for being so "slow" one assumes that he can show how he simply ignored all this work & found it all out for himself, to show how it can be done "properly"???? So how about the advances in materials & computing stemming from government space programs? Did he start from scratch there too? This is where Rutan undermines & devalues his own genius. While he has achieved & continues to achieve much his attitude shows that he is arrogant & full of self importance. He sets up Straw Men to knock down & then crows about his talent.

And in the end if privateers such as Rutan are the future of space & they can do it all better, blah blah blah, why aren't they? Who has put a satellite into space? Who has even done one orbit? No one, unless they buy cheap launchers that stemmed from government programs (such Sea Launch). No one has started from scratch, designed & built a launcher & sent it into orbit.

If Rutan is right then private operators would have done this years ago. Right? And they'd have built their own launchers. Right? Oh & when he finally (or "If") he ever gets an object into orbit let's see how his design fares with re-entry. Folding the wings will not work then, despite Rutan's ego there will be a lot of heat generated & that will need to be either resisted (like the Space Shuttle) or dissipated (like ablative heat shields). maybe then we will see what Rutan is really made of.

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