On Monday the first privately-funded manned space flight is due to take place. The rocket scientist behind the flight is Burt Rutan, founder of advanced aircraft firm Scaled Composites. The money man is Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and hence the possessor of a substantial pile of cash - enough to make the $20m spent on the SpaceShipOne project a drop in the ocean. Sneak hears that Rutan eschewed wind tunnels and the like in designing his rocket-plane, relying instead on computer simulations to predict the forces that the sub-orbital craft will endure during re-entry. Sneak for one hopes the software used to do all the number crunching is slightly more reliable than all the stuff on Sneak’s desktop that gave Allen his vast disposable income.
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