A nice column from the Philadelphia Inquirer, by way of the San Jose Mercury News (registration required), on the new private space race:
The night before SpaceShipOne vaulted into history, the desert wind gusted at 60 miles an hour around the RV camp next to the runway. The dust flew, the weeds tumbled and people dreamed about flight.
For 10 bucks, you could park your Westphalia, Streamliner, Suburban or Minnie Winnie, hunker down until the desert dawn, and, once the wind fell dead at sunrise, climb on your roof and watch America’s first private space shot.
Those RV people, and the tens of thousands who joined them to watch SpaceShipOne unzip the sky, are the ones who hold the future of space flight in their hands and minds. Not the VIPs, the starlets and politicians who got the good seats in the shade. Not project designer Burt Rutan or moneybags Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and sponsor of SpaceShipOne.
The folks in the campers, tents and converted vans won’t go to space, but their kids will. And in those hands, the Gen Next of flight will look and feel very different from the first two Gens, and I, for one, am glad.