The New Space Race is On

Pack a pilot and enough weight and volume to equal two passengers into a privately-funded spacecraft, launch and reach a height of 100 kilometers, return safely and do it again in two weeks with the same ship – win US$10,000,000.

The Ansari XPrize organization announced on Tuesday that on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 Burt Rutan, Paul Allen and their American Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC Team will make their attempt at the prize. The launches are open to the public, with parking passes available through the XPrize website.

On August 5, 2004 the competing Canadian da Vinci Project Team will publicly unveil their Wild Fire spacecraft. The da Vinci Project Team also plans to make an attempt for the prize sometime this fall. While Burt Rutan’s team uses an airplane to take the spacecraft to high altitudes before separation and launch, the da Vinci Project Team plans to use an unmanned helium balloon to take their spacecraft up.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype and is forthcoming from The Laurel Review. A piece of flash fiction is forthcoming from Cold Creek Review. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published online at Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files.” Richard is also Downlink Lead for HiRISE at the University of Arizona.