Journalist chronicles challenge to build reusable manned spacecraft
How to Make a Spaceship
Penguin Press, $28
On the 47th anniversary of Sputnik’s launch, former Navy pilot Brian Binnie flew a rocket-powered ship past the brink of outer space.
Named SpaceShipOne, the ship cruised up 112 kilometers, then plunged back to Earth, wings flared like a shuttlecock to slow its descent. SpaceShipOne’s October 4, 2004, flight, the second in two weeks, earned its makers fame and the Ansari XPRIZE.
The $10 million prize, created in 1996, aimed to spawn a fantastical new kind of tourism. One day, perhaps, ordinary people could book a ride on a rocket and gaze down on Earth from the blackness of space.
It was a prize to ignite the private space industry and to “bring about change in the stagnant aerospace