...And The X Prize Goes To...

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Rutan said his plans are in place to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize in early October. He will launch on Septermber 29, and fly again five days later, allowing enough time to make three attempts if necessary within the required two-week time frame. The X Prize Foundation is selling tickets to the event for $20 each, at their Web site. "We expect 100,000 people at Mojave," X Prize director Peter Diamandis said at a Saturday press conference at Oshkosh. Diamandis said the launch will be broadcast live on the Internet, around the world. He also said that Rutan's team has left open the possibility of taking passengers on their second flight. There is a list of prospective passengers.

"There is a list," Rutan said at his Friday forum. "Paul Allen [the project's financial backer] and I are very close to the top of that list." The only modification the ship would need to be passenger-ready is to unbolt the video equipment from the back seat. Safety belts are already in place.