“The Road To The Stars Is Now Open”

That was Korolev’s quote from sixty-five years ago, when Sputnik launched.

[Afternoon update]

It’s also the eighteenth anniversary of the flight that won the X-Prize. I missed this at the time, but I’m greatly saddened to learn that my friend (and office mate at Rotary Rocket in the 90s), Brian Binnie, died a couple weeks ago.

I hadn’t realized that he finally published his book. I read and offered to publish a draft of it years ago, but at that time, he wasn’t able to publish it due to constraints from Northrop Grumman. I wonder what changed?

14 thoughts on ““The Road To The Stars Is Now Open””

  1. but I’m greatly saddened to learn that my friend (and office mate at Rotary Rocket in the 90s), Brian Binnie, died a couple weeks ago.
    John Batchelor does a nightly CBS Radio show “Eye On The World” that airs at 10pm ET in my locale and I believe on Wednesday nights he dedicates a portion of his show to Behind The Black’s Robert Zimmerman. I believe I heard about Binnie’s passing from Zimmerman on the program week before last, so I thought it was common knowledge. I was saddened to hear of his passing as well. I may try to get his book off Kindle.

    1. Is the content on his podcast different than what is broadcast? Aside from the commercials being way too loud, always some nice short downloads there.

      1. I’ve never listened to his podcast but I doubt they are the same because, unless John is part of the podcast, he and Robert interact with Q’s and A’s during the show.

  2. My condolences to you and to Binnie’s family on his passing. Wow, he was young…almost exactly one year older than I am. I had only met him a couple of times (I knew Mike Melvill slightly better), but am glad I did. The two really did make history.

    I was there for the winning flight in the X-PRIZE competition, and had a conversation with Eric Lindbergh in which I opined that “we have four years to make this a business. After that, people will have forgotten it, and there will be no money.” I was heartened by Branson’s presence, and his announcement that he had bought the technology. I’m just sorry he didn’t barnstorm with SpaceShip One right off the bat, instead of scaling (ha ha) up something that is hideously difficult to scale (not just the airplane, but the propulsion system). But at least he hung in there, and flew into space himself. But I was way off in my thinking about the progress of the industry.

    Since the late 90s, I was convinced that commercial space transportation required a Howard Hughes: someone with both the technical savvy, the passion for space, and the vast fortune required to pull it off. I was right about that. The man who did it is is a combination Sergei Korolev, Kelly Johnson, and Howard Hughes (with the added virtue of having made, rather than inherited, his own vast fortune). He’s Elon Musk, and he is an absolute national treasure.

    1. I agree with your sentiments and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Kelly Johnson’s memoir “More than my Share of It All”. It’s most famous for laying out the 14 rules of a Skunk Works (pgs 170-171) but he also pulls no punches when it comes to his opinion of Howard Hughes. As personalities go, as the saying goes, they were like oil and water.

      1. Yeager and Crossfield were similarly oil and water. At Oshkosh in 2002 I saw firsthand how EAA handlers were with each of them, quietly coordinating to make sure they never got within a quarter mile of each other lest the streams cross and fireworks ensue.

        Crossfield was thrilled to see us there with the Ez-Rocket and gave XCOR a shoutout in his talk, I was honored to meet him and show him around the bird.

  3. Rest In Peace, Brian Binnie. I wasn’t there in person, but was thrilled to see you fly.

    To the posters (and host) who were involved with Rotary Rocket and/or the X-Prize… thank you. Back in the day, I built an (unsuccessful) model rocket of the Rotary vehicle, sent pics to the company and received a couple of tee shirts in return. Still cherished, though way too small to wear these days. 🙂

Comments are closed.