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X-Prize Cup

SpaceShipOne retires to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

The record-setting suborbital rocket plane, designed by Burt Rutan and his Scaled Composites team, made two piloted trips into space to claim the $10 million Ansari X-Prize. Among other aviation "stars", SpaceShipOne will keep company with the Wright Brothers' 1903 Flyer and the Apollo 11 command module "Columbia", which carried the first man to the Moon. Voyager, another Burt Rutan design, which completed the first non-stop non-refuelled flight around the world, hangs in the museum's south lobby. SpaceShipOne rocketed into history on 4 October, 2004, becoming the first privately owned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 100km (328,000ft) twice within the space of a 14-day period, thus claiming the much coveted Ansari X-Prize.  Full Story BBC News_ 2/28/05

November, 2004
SpaceShipOne backers collect X-Prize spoils; X-Prize Cup to become annual challenge
Burt Rutan and the team behind SpaceShipOne has been handed the $10m cheque and trophy it won for claiming the Ansari X-Prize. SpaceShipOne broke through the Earth's atmosphere twice in five days to win the prize which was set up to galvanise the private spaceflight business. UK businessman Sir Richard Branson expects to offer space rides in 2007. An annual X-Prize Cup will now take place in New Mexico, where private groups will be invited to demonstrate their space technology.  Full Story  BBC News_ 11/8/04

October, 2004

'No experiments' for SpaceShipOne
Burt Rutan, the man who designed and masterminded the X-Prize winning SpaceShipOne, has turned down several offers, including the US government, to do scientific experiments on flights. Rutan says SpaceShipOne's task will be to focus on test flights for the commercial passenger craft that will be operated by Virgin Atlantic Airways.  Full Story  BBC News_  10/7/04

SpaceShipOne wins $10 million X-Prize, sets course for space tourism

With no apparent problems, SpaceShipOne streaked into space for the second time in five days to win the Ansari X Prize. The half-hour flight took it to an altitude of more than 62 miles, the height generally considered the border between the atmosphere and space. About an hour after the spaceship landed, X Prize founder Peter Diamandis said the altitude was official, and that SpaceShipOne's team had claimed the prize by being the first to make two such flights within the required 14 days.  Full Story  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 10/4/04

SpaceShipOne to attempt second space flight Monday in bid to clinch $10 million Ansari X-Prize

Judges officially confirmed that pilot Mike Melvill took the craft to 103km (64 miles) on Wednesday's first flight. There was concern that its second attempt could be delayed after the spaceship rolled unexpectedly and perilously during its first attempt.  Full Story  BBC News_ 10/1/04

SpaceShipOne rolls dozens of times in quest of $10 million prize

Spaceship designer Burt Rutan said he asked pilot Michael Melvill to shut down the engine, but Melvill kept going until he reached the altitude specified under the rules for the Ansari X Prize, a bounty offered to the first privately built, manned rocket ship to fly in space twice in a span of two weeks.  Full Story  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 9/29/04

SpaceShipOne corkscrews into space

SpaceShipOne landed safely on Wednesday in the California desert in a shot for the $10 million X-prize offered to the first privately funded, manned craft to reach beyond the atmosphere. Just after firing its rocket, SpaceShipOne was seen rolling wildly against a blue sky, but the craft appeared to be stabilized by pilot Michael Melvill. Flight controllers said the craft hit its target altitude of at least 62 miles before booming back toward the desert at Mach 3 and beginning a long, slow spiral glide toward landing.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/29/04


Virgin to launch space tourism
Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson has signed a £14m agreement which will see his company take passengers into space. The British entrepreneur is having five "spaceliners" built in the US by the team behind the SpaceShipOne vehicle, the first privately developed carrier to go above 100km. Sir Richard says it will cost around £100,000 to go on a "Virgin Galactic" spaceliner, and the first flights should begin in about three years' time.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/27/04

Feature: BBC News Online interview with SpaceShipOne's Burt Rutan

As the first X-Prize flights go ahead, BBC News Online asks Rutan to explain his motivation and vision. SpaceShipOne's X-Prize attempts take place on 29 September and 4 October.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/25/04

Crash knocks Texas' Armadillo Aerospace out of the Ansari X-Prize race

The vehicle had been operating perfectly on all tests prior to the mishap. The unpiloted vehicle shot up to nearly 600 feet in an August 7 test, but then ran out of fuel, crashing to the ground. John Carmack, leader of the group and co-founder and chief technical engineer of id Software, responsible for the highly successful Doom computer game, among others, says his team will keep trying even though they no longer are likely contenders for the $10 million prize.  Full Story  Space.com_ 8/10/04

Private spacecraft seeking $10 million Ansari X-Prize explodes in test launch

A Washington state team taking a low-budget stab at the prize for private manned spaceflight suffered a setback when their rocket malfunctioned and exploded after shooting less than 1,000 feet in the air. No one was hurt in the test of the $20,000 Rubicon 1. The 23-foot-long, 38-inch-diameter spacecraft held three dummies simulating the weight of astronauts. Eric Meier, a mechanical engineer and co-founder of Space Transport Corp., said they will keep trying.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 8/9/04


Second team goes for $10 million Ansari X-Prize
A Canadian team will challenge SpaceShipOne for the Ansari X-Prize by sending its privately-funded craft to space on 2 October. The da Vinci Projec's Wild Fire VI is vying with Burt Rutan's craft, and 23 other teams, to send a non-government, three-person craft over 100km into space, and repeat the feat in the same craft in two weeks. Both teams use the same type of engine. The da Vinci team's craft is designed to be launched from a reusable, drifting helium balloon from an altitude of 80,000ft (24.4km).  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/5/04

July, 2004

SpaceShipOne to attempt Ansari X-Prize in two flights Sept. 29 and Oct. 4

The $10m (£5.7m) prize awards the first team to send a three-person craft over 100km, and repeat the feat in the same craft within two weeks. SpaceShipOne, built by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, became the first private manned craft to go to space in June. Another 25 teams across the world are competing for the prize.  Full Story  BBC News_ 7/28/04


X Prize countdown to begin

The X Prize Foundation is planning an announcement on July 27 that is likely to start a 60-day countdown for seeking the $10 million spaceflight prize. The $10 million would go to the first privately funded team to launch a vehicle to an altitude of at least 100 kilometers (62 miles) twice in the space of two weeks, carrying a pilot and two passengers (or about 400 pounds of ballast representing the weight of those passengers).  Full Story   MSNBC_ 7/21/04


X Prize contender Burt Rutan says SpaceShipOne ready to go again

His team solved a control problem that threw its spacecraft off course during a historic flight last month when the craft became the first private venture to reach space. The next time the ship flies, he said, it will be to capture the $10 million space jackpot. The earliest that is likely is around Labor Day. Full Story  Wired_ 7/7/04

June, 2004

SpaceShipOne grounded until owners find out what went wrong on first private space flight

Aircraft developer Burt Rutan said there will be no attempt to capture the $10 million Ansari X-Prize until they learn what went wrong with the space ship's control system.

 Full Story  BBC News_ 6/22/04

A moment of doubt, then cheers: SpaceShipOne roars out of the Earth's atmosphere in first private space flight
For a few minutes after the ship started its descent, it was unclear whether pilot Mike Melvill had reached his goal of 62 miles above the Earth's surface. But the mission announcer finally said the flight had been successful. The ship glided back to an unpowered landing amid applause and cheers at 8:15 a.m. pdt, about 90 minutes after it was carried aloft slung under the belly of the jet-powered White Knight.  Full Story  AP/San Francisco Chronicle_ 6/21/04

SpaceShipOne successfully punches into space in the world's first manned commercial space flight
The privately funded rocket plane was released from a larger plane called the White Knight and ignited its rocket engine to enter space 62 miles above the earth. The unprecedented $20 million project is intended to demonstrate the viability of commercial space flight and open the door for space tourism SpaceShipOne was designed by legendary aerospace designer Burt Rutan and built with more than $20 million from billionaire Paul Allen. It's piloted by Michael Melvill.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/21/04


Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne aims for the stars Monday: The next revolution in flight or just another firework?
If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft will spend three minutes beyond Earth's atmosphere, becoming the first private craft to carry a human into space and touch down on the same runway it left about an hour and a half earlier. If the tiny Mojave desert workshop of Scaled Composites has its way, SpaceShipOne's flight above the Earth -- 62 miles (100 kilometers) above -- will be the gateway to many more. And the next one could carry paying passengers.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 6/18/04


Armadillo Aerospace of Mesquite, Texas scores liftoff success in test for X Prize
Armadillo, led by John Carmack, co-founder of id Software, is one of over two dozen teams from seven nations trying to win the Ansari X Prize – a $10 million offering that expires on January 1, 2005. That cash purse will go to the first team that privately finances, builds and launches a craft capable of hauling three individuals up to 62.5 miles (100 kilometers) altitude, returns safely to Earth, then duplicates that suborbital flight with the same vehicle in the span of two weeks. Armadillo’s rocket concept uses a hydrogen peroxide monopropellant.  Full Story  Space.com 6/17/04

May, 2004

Private spaceship almost in space
A privately-built spacecraft manned by pilot Mike Melvill reached a record altitude of 212,000ft over California on one of its final tests before officially entering space. SpaceShipOne was built by aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan who hopes to win the Ansari X-prize of $10m (£5.7m) for the first private flight into space. The craft has to reach an altitude of 329,000ft twice in three weeks to win - and is expected to do so next month. Twenty-five other teams across the world are competing for the prize. Full Story  BBC News_ 5/14/04

New Mexico to host private 'X Prize' spaceflight race
The event would be held at the Southwest Regional Spaceport during the same timeframe each year.   Full Story  Space.com_ 5/11/04

NASA plans contests to develop space technology and hopefully recapture the spirit of the early space effort
The June 15-16 workshop in Washington will focus on drawing up NASA's first batch of "Centennial Challenges" — government-funded competitions that would encourage non-governmental teams to develop technologies vital to NASA's exploration initiative. The scheme is modeled after this spring's DARPA Grand Challenge for autonomous ground vehicles, and the X Prize for private passenger rockets. Some say the Centennial Challenges are NASA's best hope for recapturing the spirit of the early space effort.  Full Story  MSNBC_ 5/7/04

X Prize renamed

The $10 million race to develop private-sector passenger spaceships now is the Ansari X Prize, honoring a family of Iranian-born entrepreneurs. Anousheh Ansari and her brother-in-law, Amir Ansari, announced a multimillion-dollar contribution to the X Prize Foundation. The two are co-founders of the Texas-based venture capital firm Prodea, and they also co-founded Telecom Technologies Inc., a soft-switch systems company that was acquired by Sonus Networks in 2000.  Full Story  MSNBC_ 5/5/04

Second test flight of private, manned rocket
The SpaceShipOne rocket took off mated to a turbojet aircraft, separated and then flew under rocket power before landing at the Mojave, California, airport, according to its builder, Scaled Composites LLC. The experimental craft is trying for the $10 million X prize. Full Story  AP/CNN_ 4/9/04

U.S. awards first suborbital manned aircraft license
The Federal Aviation Administration issued the license to Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites group of Mojave, California. Such experimental aircraft are competing for the $10 million X Prize and could become the model for taking tourists into space.  Full Story  Reuters_ 4/8/04

Private space race nears $10 million finish line

Organizers of the X Prize believe that one of the 27 teams could attempt the manned space trip as early as this summer.  Full Story  AP/CNN 3/29/04

 

   
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