Headlines > News > Other X Prize Teams Pressing On Toward Flight, Diamandis Says

Other X Prize Teams Pressing On Toward Flight, Diamandis Says

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Sun Jan 16, 2005 4:21 pm
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aviationnow.com By Jefferson Morris : Despite the fact that Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne already has won the $10 million Ansari X Prize, several of the 25 other teams that registered for the competition are pressing on with plans to fly their own private suborbital space vehicles, according to X Prize Chairman Peter Diamandis.

“We had 26 teams in seven countries, and amazingly, we had literally 26 different designs,” Diamandis said at a Jan. 13 luncheon in Washington sponsored by the Washington Space Business Roundtable. “None of these looked like anything on the drawing board elsewhere.”

One such team is the Ontario-based Canadian Arrow team, whose vehicle is a modified V-2 rocket featuring a 57,000-pound thrust LOX/alcohol engine. “These guys are working hard to get their vehicle through drop tests now,” Diamandis said.

Another Canadian team is the da Vinci Project, which recently finished building the world’s largest reusable helium balloon to carry its Wild Fire manned spacecraft to its launch altitude of 70,000 feet. The team hopes to have its first flight this year.

“They have luckily decided not to fly manned for their first flight,” Diamandis said. “We’re very happy to hear that.”

Pablo De Leon & Associates of Argentina is making progress with flights of its half-scale X Prize vehicle, Diamandis said, and is planning to set up operations in New Mexico, where the upcoming X Prize Cup will be held. A number of international teams are considering relocating to the U.S. because of the emerging regulatory environment, Diamandis said.

Congress in December passed an amendment to the Commercial Space Launch Act that establishes a regulatory framework for the suborbital space tourism industry (DAILY, Dec. 10, 2004). “The legislation being passed is critical to building the base here in the United States,” Diamandis said.

American team Armadillo Aerospace, formed by id Software co-founder John Carmack, also is looking to fly in New Mexico. The team is pressing on despite a September launch failure. “Failure is OK,” Diamandis said. “If we’re not failing, we’re not taking risks. If we don’t take risks, we don’t get breakthroughs.”

Starting in 2006, the 10-day X Prize Cup will be held in New Mexico, during which X Prize teams will fly their vehicles and compete in a number of categories. “They’ll go after records of turnaround time, maximum passengers, cross-range, altitude, fastest flight time, and our latest category, ‘coolest-looking ship,’” Diamandis quipped. “It’ll be the Oshkosh, the Grand Prix of space.”

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