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Rutan "Disappointed" after Civilian Space Ship Explodes over Mojave
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MOJAVE DESERT, California - Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites, the leading contender for the civilian space flight X-Prize, used the word 'disappointed' when responding to reporters' questions about his failed attempt to leave Earth's atmosphere. "The take-off and flight were picture perfect, separation happened precisely on schedule, SpaceShipOne hurtled to 62.5 miles above sea level, and then glided back to Earth, landing on the same airstrip it launched from. I'm sorry you're disappointed, but this was what we call a 'successful flight'." He waved his hand in the direction of reveling engineers and students, screaming, "We did it!" and "Yeah!"

"Were you actually watching the launch?"
-- naive young man
The denial among the group was astounding. As the scorched hunks of twisted metal and broken carbon-fiber composite smoldered in the Mojave sun, Rutan's staff regaled reporters with stories of success. "Did you see the White Knight's performance? Stunning!" said one. "Two weeks? Ha! We could turn this baby around this afternoon!" offered another. Clearly, the events witnessed this day will haunt their memories for a lifetime.

"Look, I don't mean to be pragmatic about this, but the ship simply did not break up," explained Paul Allen, Rutan's more-or-less silent partner in the now-failed adventure, "What you have been blessed to witness here today was a historic event." Certainly, as the Hindenburg and Titanic before it, SpaceShipOne will be remembered as one of man's greatest tragedies.

"Were you actually watching the launch?" asked one naive young man, perhaps in his early twenties, "I mean, that white thing over there. You do recognize it as the ship launched a few hours ago under the belly of that jet looking thing, right?" He pointed in the distance to the remains of the White Knight.

Whether or not another contender for the $10 million X-Prize will make the bold attempt before the looming deadline remains a mystery, but one thing is certain: Monday June 21st is a day that will forever live in infamy.
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