This week the world witnessed the inaugural flight of the first civilian spacecraft, SpaceShipOne. It carried on its fuselage the name of its sponsor, with the legend "A Paul G Allen project". Allen's most notable prior project was, of course, the founding of Microsoft, so strictly speaking the intrepid astronaut Mike Melvill should not have been surprised that the mission was not entirely without its glitches. The worrying period where the controls froze and the craft decided to execute a couple of uncommanded manoeuvres were, surely, only to be expected. Still, Sneak hears that a new and improved version is already in the making. SpaceShipOnePointOne will be heavier, more expensive, and will principally benefit from having the grey "Start" button in the cockpit repainted a reassuring green. There are also plans for a much larger passenger-carrying variant, SpaceShipXP, which the makers say will be only slightly hampered by having to carry around all the earlier SpaceShips stuffed in its belly.
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