The X Prize is US$10,000,000 for the first privately funded team to launch three people to 100 kilometers (62.5 miles), safely return them to Earth, and do it all over again within two weeks using the same spaceship. The prize is meant to stimulate interest and investment in space tourism and may help advance technologies needed to decrease the cost of space travel. All teams are designing and building their own spaceships. So far the company furthest along appears to be Scaled Composites. Their entry is comprised of two ships. White Knight is an airplane meant to carry the second ship, SpaceShipOne, into the sky where they will separate. SpaceShipOne will then use a hybrid motor to launch itself to its final destination above Earth.
Scaled Composites has already completed several test flights. It is generally believed that one of the teams will take home the prize sometime this summer 2004. For more information about the various teams participating, as well as truly spectacular images of completed spaceshifts, concept art, and the people behind the scenes, check out the X Prize website. There should be an ongoing reality show on broadcast television documenting the teams and their attempts to win this prize. Big media continues to belief that the television viewing audience is not interested in science and technology programming. Unfortunately, despite evidence suggesting otherwise, no one has yet come along to prove them wrong, although there is still hope for the eventual launch of the Cable Science Network (CSN).