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. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (, on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).