On the drive home today I listened to the episode of Planetary Radio covering SpaceShipOne's claiming of the X Prize, from way back in October of 2004 (why yes, I am behind on a great many things). The bulk of it held interviews with private industry types and a lot of overwrought language which annoyed me about how important what they did is.
Stuff like suggesting NASA and major aerospace corporations are now thinking "we're screwed" in the face of SpaceShipOne.
Because I have a helluva lot bigger goal than they do. And you know what that goal is? I absolutely have to develop a manned space tourism system for Sir Richard Branson that's at least a 100 times safer than anything that's ever flown a man to space and probably a lot more. I have to do that.
And perhaps it is just me, but I thoroughly do not believe building a suborbital or low Earth orbit moneymaker for a billionaire is even slightly bigger or more important than doing actual research on the rest of the solar system and universe. Maybe if they were working on a destination, somewhere to actually go and spend time in space that would be different. But not a quick dip out of the atmosphere so the rich and famous can score themselves a new "I've been there" shirt.