The whole thing felt a little like Burning Man with more money and fewer naked hippies. Squint through the dust (which at times almost blew as hard as it does on the playa), and those big sponsor signs could almost pass for theme camp tents. Instead of bad trance music blaring in all directions, we heard bombastic symphonic overtures on the PA system every time SS-1 was about to do something important, like lift off or move from climb mode to glide mode.
The craft is fueled by nitrous oxide and rubber. I suppose this proves what many Hollywood clubbers have known for years — that with a little latex and laughing gas, you can get to heaven.
Here, Scaled Composites' Burt Rutan and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen sit in the back of a pickup truck towing SpaceShipOne along the runway, after pilot Mike Melvill's successful flight. Mr. Melvill is still inside the craft. This sight made me laugh. I mean — come on. A pickup truck towing a spaceship. Garage geekery, grand goals. Link to full-size image. Link to a snapshot moments later, in which Melvill addresses the crowd on the ground, while Rutan and Allen grin widely.