Volume: 02, Issue: 15 09/22/2004 
Image couresy X Prize.
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SpaceShipOne and White Knight in the air. Photo courtesy Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC.
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The Da Vinci team with their rocket.  Photo courtesy Da Vinci Project.
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Other Articles in This Issue:
Genesis Scientists Bouncing Back From Crash
Rings and Moons and New Objects… Oh My!
Opportunities Abound for Classroom Activities
Expand Your Educational Horizons
 

X PRIZE Teams to Compete for $10 Million Prize

In 1927, Charles Lindberg was awarded the $25,000 Orteig Prize for his flight across the Atlantic ocean. Today, another such award is available: the ANSARI X PRIZE is a $10 million award being offered to the first privately funded team that builds and launches a spacecraft able to carry three people to a sub-orbital altitude of 100 kilometers (62.5 miles). The spaceship is required to return safely to Earth, then repeat the launch with the same space vehicle within two weeks, with both flights completed by Jan. 1, 2005. Two teams have announced their plans to launch their vehicles for the first round of flight.

"The American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team and the Canadian da Vinci Project Team are just two of the 26 competing groups who will someday make it possible for spaceflights to be conducted from commercial spaceports across the globe,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and Founder of the X PRIZE Foundation. “When the ANSARI X PRIZE competition is won, it will herald the start of a new renaissance of spaceflight in which the general public will have their chance to fly next."

The American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team has scheduled their first competition flight on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2004. The GoldenPalace.com Space Program: Powered by the da Vinci Project has also announced that they will attempt to capture the ANSARI X PRIZE on Saturday, Oct. 2.

American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team
The American Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC Team is a partnership between Paul G. Allen and Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites.

The team’s White Knight turbojet launch aircraft carries research rocketplane SpaceShipOne under its fuselage to approximately 48,000 feet in altitude. Then the White Knight flight engineer pulls a handle which releases SpaceShipOne. SpaceShipOne fires its hybrid rocket motor, rocketing the vehicle to more than 2,100 miles per hour and continuing its steep powered ascent.

On June 21, Mike Melvill, a pilot for Mojave Aerospace Ventures, reached apogee at just over 62 miles, becoming the first commercial pilot to enter sub-orbital space. He earned his astronaut wings as the first commercial astronaut as well as a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

"The idea of competitions have always had a rich heritage in our society," said Paul G. Allen, sole investor of SpaceShipOne and partner in Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC. "This competition has proven that there are many different ways to attack the challenges set out by the ANSARI X PRIZE. From the start we have approached SpaceShipOne with a 'can-do, home-brew' attitude. We are grateful that our previous flights have brought even more attention to the ANSARI X PRIZE and given more momentum to the groundswell of excitement that is continuing to build for the long-term potential of affordable space exploration."

Similar to the June flight, the two competition launches will take place at the Mojave Airport Civilian Aerospace Test Center in Mojave, California. To win the $10 million, SpaceShipOne will need to make a second flight within two weeks, by Oct. 13. The public is invited and encouraged to attend the historic events. Parking passes for public attendance can be purchased on the X PRIZE website (www.xprize.org).

The GoldenPalace.com Space Program: Powered by the da Vinci Project
The da Vinci Project is led by Brian Feeney of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The team is backed by a core of aerospace engineers and project management volunteers.

An unmanned reusable helium balloon is planned to lift the Wild Fire spacecraft to an altitude of 80,000 feet. This is where Wild Fire's rocket engines will fire and propel the space plane to the 100 km altitude goal – space.

In preparation for their Oct. 2 launch, the team conducted a successful test balloon launch to 40,000 ft in Colorado on Sept. 12. The scaled balloon with payload rose to its peak designed altitude to test the stresses on the balloon, both at launch point and float altitude. Convective temperatures are at their lowest at around 40,000 ft.

"The da Vinci Project Team has made huge strides in the past year and we're excited to finally share Wild Fire with the public," said Feeney. "We're in the commercial tourist race for the long haul and while working with an all-volunteer team, we've been able to accomplish major aviation and space milestones in pursuit of the ANSARI X PRIZE."

The team is finalizing logistical details related to the event, which will be held in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. For more information, go to http://www.davinciproject.com/ .

About the ANSARI X PRIZE Competition
Currently, 26 teams from around the globe are competing for the $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE. In order to win the competition, teams must build a safe and reusable space vehicle able to carry one pilot and the weight equivalent of two passengers, 100km (62 miles) into sub-orbital space. The vehicle must be privately financed and safely flown twice within a two-week period. The first registered ANSARI X PRIZE team to complete this feat will win the $10 million prize and a spectacular 5-foot trophy.

About the X PRIZE Foundation
The X PRIZE Foundation is a not-for-profit educational organization with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. The Foundation's ANSARI X PRIZE Competition is supported by its Title Sponsor, the Ansari family, and Presenting Sponsor, Champ Car World Series. The Foundation is also supported by private donations from the St. Louis Community through an organization called the New Spirit of St. Louis Organization. The Foundation's mission is to educate the public about space travel, create educational programming for students and space enthusiasts, and provide incentives in the private sector to make space travel frequent and affordable for the general public.

Several additional sponsorships for the ANSARI X PRIZE competition remain available to corporations or individuals who wish to support the contest and associate themselves with courage, determination, achievement, space, speed, high performance, and technology. To find out how individuals or corporations can join the efforts of the X PRIZE, or to involve neighborhood schools or community centers with X PRIZE educational programs, visit www.xprize.org or contact the office at 636-519-9449.

    
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