Black Sky

Did anyone catch this documentary about Burt Rutan and Spaceship One last night? The two-hour behind the scenes documentary followed Burt Rutan, his company Scaled Composites and the three primary test pilots through the development and flight testing of Spaceship One in pursuit of the Ansari X Prize. And what an absorbing and enthralling two-hours it was! Burt Rutan is an inspiration; a true visionary and an absolutely fascinating character.

I caught the very end, though I’d like to see the rest. I’m sure they’ll replay it… I’ll have to remember to tell the Tivo to watch out for it.

I watched the latter half of it and I thought it was fantastic.

It re-airs on Sunday, October 10th at 4pm ET.

After watching it, you can’t help but think that the other teams never had a chance. In the first of the three documentaries, when they show Mike Melville’s flight where the navi computer flickers, then goes out completely, you really gain respect for that 62 year old pilot’s skills.

Also, I love the “ooo, danger” music.

Burt’s giving a 2-hour lecture here in Austin on Oct 29th at the UT LBJ Auditorium. It’s open to the public. Just show up before 10am.

I came away with a huge amount of respect for the test pilots. The documentary did an outstanding job of showing how much they were relying on pure blind faith in the designers and engineers. I can’t begin to imagine how much raw courage is needed to step into a completely untested airframe of a totally revolutionary design and have to rely on it working flawlessly first time. The look on the test pilot’s face when they first lit up the rocket engine spoke volumes. His eyes were as big as saucers. Unbelievable.