...As Launch Dates Approach...

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Both of the leading teams will soon have a chance to show off their spacecraft in action as the X-PRIZE launch date nears. While there is no "set-in-stone" deadline, the X-PRIZE is fully funded through January 1, 2005, and some participants may launch sooner. Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X-PRIZE Foundation, told the Associated Press he expects one of the two teams will launch within the next few months. "We expect to have a winner within the next nine to 12 months," Diamandis proclaimed in a presentation Friday to FAA officials. The FAA is also planning ahead, as it has already approved the launch applications of the aforementioned companies. The agency also approved a Mojave airport location for use as a launch pad. Supported by private donations and backed by an insurance policy to guarantee that the $10 million is in place on the day that the prize is won, the first team to successfully complete the race requirements will win the big money.