Wednesday, June 16, 2004

100 km

SpaceShipOne is an Ansari X-Prize project that I've been following with great interest over the last few months. On June 21st, Scaled are going to try their first flight to the X-Prize qualifying height of 100 km, from Mojave Civilian Flight Test Center. I will be watching with great interest. If only I could be there!

Although SpaceShipOne will be going up to 100 km, Scaled still won't win the X-Prize, because the X-Prize rules stipulate that the winning craft must carry 3 people (or just a pilot and ballast equivalent to the other two crew), and the same spacecraft must trip twice in the space of 2 weeks.

Time's running out for X-Prize competitors: the prize is only available until 1st January 2005.

On a personal note, I'm not a big fan of the X-Prize. Although it seems to have succeeded to a certain extent in stimulating the development of private spaceflight, even the winning spacecraft will not be capable even of getting to orbit. The next prize would be awarded to the first private enterprise to put a man in 500 km orbit and then recover him safely, if I had any say in it. Then you've automatically got a competitive launch vehicle.

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