More Private Space Projects

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It's been almost a year since the Burt Rutan/Paul Allen collaboration resulted in the first (and second) private manned space flight but some of the dreamers and doers left in the dust by that well-funded operation are still hoping to see the black sky themselves. The Countdown to the X Prize Cup is being held Oct. 9 at Las Cruces, N.M., and visitors will be able to see the various other means competitors for the original X Prize had hoped to employ to win the $10 million offered in the earlier competition. "We've created an event where everyone can come, experience space and be part of the next generation of spaceflight," says the event's Web site. There will be at least three live firings at the event, including a flight of XCOR's EZ Rocket in an unspecified record attempt. Rutan's brother Dick is one of the EZ Rocket's test pilots and the plane was demonstrated at EAA AirVenture in 2004. "Starchaser will ignite its 7,000-pound liquid rocket engine in a spectacle of twenty-foot flames [and] Armadillo will be firing its newest rocket engine concept," the Web site says.