Private astronaut Brian Binnie discusses his first trip to space aboard SpaceShipOne.

When the day of my flight finally came, I was working with very little sleep. Prior to the release point, I had an excruciating hour in which I had little to do but sit, think, and come face to face with the demons that lurked into my thoughts as I waited. Would things go according to plan? Had SpaceShipOne revealed to us all its secrets? The flight test was under such a microscope that I couldn’t even sneeze – without multiple cameras in the cockpit beaming the images back to the many people watching including the whole Scaled team, the X PRIZE Foundation, Paul Allen, Sir Richard Branson, NASA, and tons of media outlets. Considering that I hadn’t flown the vehicle in some 10 months, I felt I was under a huge amount of pressure. Then, after the hour long wait, things shifted into fast forward and everything happened incredibly quickly. After release, I was under the impressive acceleration of the hybrid rocket and thundering toward space. The shuddering and shaking vibrations combined with the demonic screeching of that motor were most memorable. But, by far, the best part was the contrast provided when I shut off the rocket; Blessed peace and quiet and the instant karma of weightlessness. And then, my God, that view! Separating the black void that is space from the peaceful panorama below is a thin blue electric ribbon of light that is the atmosphere. For 4 minutes I got to soak it all in. I tell you, one cannot be unmoved by the experience! From Mojave, I could see the San Francisco Bay to the North, Baja Mexico to the south, the Sierra-Nevada Mountains and the Pacific. I captured some of the sights with a camera but it’s definitively something you need to see for yourself.

Someday I'm sure I will! These stories give me far more hope than the Space Shuttle ever did that I might get to go into space myself one day.

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