SpaceShipOne To Launch For X Prize in September
Scaled Composites is ready to launch SpaceShipOne from Mojave on September 29 in hopes of winning the $10 million X Prize, the X Prize Foundation announced yesterday. But designer Burt Rutan and astronaut Mike Melvill may have competition: the da Vinci Project team, based in Toronto, Canada, plans to roll out its completed Wild Fire spacecraft for a public unveiling on August 5. That team is expected to also launch in pursuit of the space prize this fall. Teams are required to tell the foundation of their launch plans 60 days in advance. To win the $10 million, SpaceShipOne will need to make a second flight within two weeks, by October 13. The public is invited and encouraged to attend both events at Mojave. Parking passes can be purchased on the X Prize Web site (www.xprize.org). To qualify for the prize, the flights must be privately financed, sending a manned spaceship to 100 km altitude twice within two weeks, each time carrying a pilot and the weight and volume equivalent of two additional passengers. Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and founder of the X Prize Foundation, made the announcement about the Mojave launch yesterday morning in Santa Monica, Calif. "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," he said.
Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites have formed a partnership with investor Paul G. Allen called The American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team to continue the SpaceShipOne project. On June 21, Melvill became the first commercial pilot to enter suborbital space. Similar to the June flight, the competition launches will take place at the Mojave Airport Civilian Aerospace Test Center in Mojave, California. Wild Fire, the Canadian da Vinci Project Team spacecraft, is also launched at high-altitude (80,000 feet) into suborbital space from an unmanned, reusable helium balloon. The project is working with an all-volunteer team.