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Space Race 2 Beyond The Final Frontier

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Wed Sep 22, 2004 9:23 pm
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Spacedaily.com by Irene Klotz: About former astronaut Rick Searfoss;
Rick Searfoss has just a few minutes left before show time. He keeps an eye on the clock, knowing he still has to change into his stage clothes, but his voice remains steady, his concentration focused.
With seconds to go, he slips behind a closed door and steps into his blue flight suit. It is a relic of times past when he used to be a NASA astronaut and a space-shuttle commander. Now, the outfit lends a ring of authenticity to Searfoss’s shtick as star of the Astronaut Encounter show at the Kennedy Space Center visitor’s center.

Six years since he hung up his space boots, Searfoss finds himself drawn into the inner sanctum of a new human spaceflight program, one being waged sans NASA. Searfoss is chief judge in the $10 million Ansari X Prize competition. It is a volunteer job that he juggles along with guest appearances, speaking engagements and motivational training gigs.

Searfoss retired his astronaut wings in 1998 after three spaceflights, including a mission to the Russian Mir space station that he commanded.

In an interview with United Press International, Searfoss said he had grown disenchanted with how the agency was handling the International Space Station program and weary of the politics that astronauts had to undergo to secure a seat on the shuttle.
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