Headlines > News > Ansari X Prize will be awarded Saturday in ceremony

Ansari X Prize will be awarded Saturday in ceremony

Published by Robin on Wed Nov 3, 2004 8:21 am
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Ansari X PrizeBy Eli Kintisch Of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/02/2004, STLtoday.com
Aviation pioneer Burt Rutan will accept a check for the $10 million Ansari X Prize on Saturday in St. Louis. The ceremony, which will be at 10:30 a.m. at St. Louis University High School, comes eight years after the prize’s creation.

Rutan will accept the money on behalf of Mojave Aerospace Ventures, his California-based collaboration between philanthropist Paul Allen and Rutan’s Scaled Composites aviation firm.

“We would have preferred to have a World Series parade and an X Prize celebration on Saturday, but given the history of St. Louis and aviation and the obvious connection to Charles Lindbergh, we think this is a very positive thing for the city,” said Regional Chamber and Growth Association President Richard Fleming.

Fleming was among dozens of area businessmen whose contributions launched the contest in 1996. The competition was modeled after the Orteig prize, a St. Louis-backed effort that spurred Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 flight from New York to Paris aboard the “Spirit of St. Louis.” The Ansari X Prize was meant to encourage space tourism by challenging private rocket builders to build a reusable space vehicle that could visit space twice in two weeks.

After the ceremony on Saturday, members of Rutan’s team will give talks at the St. Louis Science Center next to the high school and mingle with local kids.

“If somebody gets to talk to the guy who designed the landing gear, for example, maybe they’ll want to be that person,” said Science Center President Doug King. “Maybe that will make them want to do their algebra homework.”

The Mojave team won the prize after astronauts Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie visited space twice in a week aboard SpaceShipOne, their buglike rocketship. The flights, which took off from Mojave Airport in California on Sept. 29 and Oct. 4, reached altitudes of roughly 337,600 feet and 367,440 feet respectively, easily surpassing the competition goal of 328,000 feet.

X Prize celebration

When: Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
What: Ansari X Prize award presentation ceremony.
Where: St. Louis University High School athletic field, adjacent to the St. Louis Science Center.
Details: Burt Rutan’s Mojave Aerospace Ventures team will accept a $10 million check and competition trophy. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is also scheduled to attend. Before the ceremony, team members will be available to meet the public. After the ceremony, the team will be available at the Science Center. Tickets to a special exhibition on space are $5 all day.

Reporter Eli Kintisch
E-mail: ekintisch@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 314-340-8250

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