home logo
Control Bar
invisible spacer

The X PRIZE Foundation Newsletter – August 27, 2004
HOSTED BY http://www.xprizenews.org





Dear ANSARI X PRIZE Supporters,

In our July newsletter, we broke the news that one registered Team was "Go for Launch" in its attempt to claim the $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE. Now, "The Race is On!" with a second X PRIZE Team planning its launch attempts within days of the first!

We can't help but draw historical parallels with the Orteig Prize claimed by Charles Lindbergh: As with the ANSARI X PRIZE, the Orteig Prize had been offered for eight years before several teams made their attempts within days of each other. During about one week in 1927, a group of fliers left France bound for New York days ahead of Lindbergh but failed to reach the US; and Admiral Richard Byrd and his team were readying for their flight in a hangar across the field as Lindbergh made his departure for Paris.

Like the wave of aviation activity following the Orteig Prize, we're seeing evidence that winning the ANSARI X PRIZE will prove to be the leading edge of the private space industry. We have more X PRIZE Teams flying and testing more hardware in the last few months than at any time since the inception of the PRIZE. And these Teams all have intentions of flying manned missions regardless of the outcome in the $10 million New Race to Space.

The "Race is On" for the ANSARI X PRIZE, and the world is watching!

Best wishes,

Peter H. Diamandis


Da Vinci Team Announces ANSARI X PRIZE Launches

SpaceShipOne will be getting some competition in its quest to claim the $!0million ANSARI X PRIZE: The Canadian da Vinci Project Team has notified X PRIZE Foundation of its intention to make a launch attempt on October 2nd, 2004. "With two ANSARI X PRIZE teams launching within days of each other for the $10 million prize (U.S.), we truly have a remarkable race for space," said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and Founder of the X PRIZE Foundation. Da Vinci team leader Brian Feeney said, "We’re very close to achieving our mission, thanks to the organizations and individuals that understand the significance of this race" The da Vinci Project Team has officially changed its name to "The GoldenPalace.com Space Project: Powered by the da Vinci Project" in recognition of their new Title sponsor. The GoldenPalace.com Space Project team plans to launch the cylindrical Wild Fire rocket from a h! igh-altitude balloon taking off from Sasketchewan, Canada. To test the ability of a high-altitude balloon to launch the Wild Fire rocket, a scaled version of the balloon will carry a 400 lb payload to 50,000 feet in September, according to Feeney. As for the engines that will carry Wild Fire to space, ground test firings are scheduled to start August 31st and run throughout September. http://www.davinciproject.com

Canadian Arrow Scores Success in Test of Crew Capsule


With its parachute billowing in the wind, a capsule built by the Canadian Arrow team gently splashed down on Lake Ontario on August 14. "[This test] totally proves our Canadian Arrow design," said team leader Geoff Sheerin to news site Space.com. "It went really well and everything worked as it should." A helicopter dropped the unmanned capsule from a height of 9,000 feet. With onboard cameras running, the capsule fell toward Lake Ontario, opened its 64-foot wide parachute, and safely floated onto the lake. Wayne Wong, one of the team’s astronauts-to-be, told the Toronto Star, "For the last three months, I've been (literally) dreaming about actually being in space and coming back, and it's feeling that much closer." Future tests planned by Canadian Arrow include proving the Arrow’s escape rocket design and its low-altitude abort mode. The team has already test-fired its main rocket engine, which can develop 57,000 pounds of thrust. http://www.canadianarrow.com


American Astronautics has finished building its technology demonstrator, a sub-scale version of the Team’s ANSARI X PRIZE rocket. The demonstrator will prove out technologies "in the areas of propulsion, recovery, instrumentation, and ground processing," according to Team member Stella Sprague. Sprague says that the demonstrator will soon undergo "a series of static firings, then on to flight to validate guidance, TVC [thrust vector control], instrumentation, recovery, and ground processing operations. In flight, the fully reusable sub-scale vehicle utilizes LOX/kerosene propellants, is over 12 inches in diameter by 22 feet in length, and is capable of lofting 40 pounds of useful payload to 120 km altitude." American Astronautics is currently relocating its facilities to the Falbrook Airpark in California.

ARCA will launch its Demonstrator 2B rocket on September 8, 2004. The Demonstrator 2B rocket is a 40% scale version of the Orizont, ARCA's X PRIZE vehicle. A press release from the team states, "The unmanned launch will take place from Midia Cape Air Force launch site, on the Black Sea shore. The Demonstrator 2B will be launched to a low altitude and limited to below 5000 m [16400 ft], mainly because of the launch site restrictions." According to Team Leader Dumitru Popescu, "the main objective for this flight will be to qualify for flight the world's first composite materials monopropellant rocket engine." ARCA's proprietary engine has already completed 28 ground tests. http://www.arcaspace.ro

Starchaser is busy constructing its Churchill Mk III engine, which will power its X PRIZE vehicle. "Many of the engine sections have been rolled and prepared for welding," according to the Team’s report. "Once the inner chamber and cooling channels have been completed the next task will be to cut and weld over the outer cooling jacket, and install the new kerosene manifold on the end of the nozzle to complete the engine." To watch what’s happening in the Starchaser factory in real-time, you can visit the Starchaser "web-cam" at http://www.starchaser.co.uk/factoryWebCam/front_tv.htm

Armadillo Aerospace is busy building an improved version of its unmanned test vehicle after losing the original one in a crash on August 7. The first test vehicle had racked up successful test flights while suspended from a crane, but crashed on an untethered flight to 600 feet altitude. The crash was traced to difficulties with the engine’s catalyst pack, so the Texas-based team will introduce improvements to its hydrogen-peroxide engine when building its new test vehicle. "We basically consider our flight tests part of an engine test program," noted team leader John Carmack. "Counting all the hover tests of the last few vehicles, we probably have 50+ flight tests this year." Carmack added, "The time factor [to build a new vehicle] is a bit more annoying, but the chance to incorporate all the new improvement ideas we have is valuable." As of August 22, the team has purchased all of the electronics needed for the new vehicle, but "the major parts we are stil! l waiting on are the tank, machined manway, and the nose cone structures." Read the team’s weekly updates at www.armadilloaerospace.com.

Advent is preparing to test its new rocket engine in about two months, reports team leader Jim Akkerman. "The engine we are testing is expected to operate on "saturated" cryogenic propellant," noted Akkerman, "Reconstruction of the tanks and structure for our flight vehicle should take only a couple of months. We will then go directly to the ocean launch operation that we have planned all along...and possibly fly before the end of the year." Advent plans to use a thermal protection system that will be compatible with ocean landings and the Team, he concluded, is "Looking forward ... and up."

Space Transport Corporation: the Washington-based Team’s Rubicon 1 launch earlier this month was, according to Team co-Leader Eric Meier, "no triumph, but was not, on the other hand, a disaster by any means." One second after ignition, one of the engines over-pressurized and ruptured. The other engine was damaged in the event and also exploded, resulting in breakup of the entire vehicle. Subsequent analysis revealed that the solid-propellant engine over-pressurized due to improperly formulated propellant. Meier and his Team were encouraged, though, as "the publicity grabbed the attention of many entrepreneurs who commended our effort. [They] realize that Rubicon 1 simply represents progress on the path to knowledge and success." The team has received tremendous publicity, including an interview of team member Phil Storm on National Public Radio. See the STC website http://www.space-transport.com for video! of the launch and the audio from the interview.

HARC: The Alabama-based Team has concluded the first series of "on the pad" or "in-flight abort" flight tests with its modified sub-scale "Liberator" capsule. Although the design of the Liberator capsule is neutrally stable because of the forward-mounted escape motor, HARC’s testing showed it still requires very small corrective reaction forces during the abort ascent. Continued testing on a ¼ scale capsule will demonstrate on-pad abort, hybrid escape motor, drag brake deployment, roll, pitch, yaw systems, guidance, and chute deployment for the Liberator design. In addition, the HARC X PRIZE Team has already developed the control system that will be used to control relay the status of the drogue and main parachute deployment, motor controls, drag brakes, capsule separation, etc via a full remote control uplink capability to accommodate their initial unmanned launches. http://www.harcspace.com/

Pablo de Leon: The escape tower of the Gauchito rocket has been proven out, according to Pablo de Leon, leader of the ANSARI X PRIZE team from Argentina. DeLeon reports that, "A half scale vehicle was tested 100 miles South of Buenos Aires, and the results were flawless…This is another milestone in our project. Successful separation of the capsule in the event of a launch vehicle failure is an important achievement." http://www.pablodelon.com


NASA Administrator praises ANSARI X PRIZE pioneers at air show

"We welcome the advent of private sector human spaceflight," proclaimed NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe at the AirVenture air show in July. "Due to the history that Burt Rutan and Mike Melvill made with the flight of SpaceShipOne, the heavens above are open to individual and private initiative. I guarantee you that SpaceShipOne represents just the start of an explosion of citizen-led and citizen-inspired space activities." O’Keefe praised the role of the X PRIZE "in encouraging private sector spaceflight."

California Museum Tells Story of ANSARI X PRIZE

"X PRIZE: A New Space Race" will open at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California in August 2004. This exhibition will feature "educational exhibits about rocket science and the talented teams that are competing from all over the world for this ten million dollar prize." Visitors can "vicariously experience the excitement of rocket flight and engine tests by viewing short video clips from X PRIZE competitors," says the museum’s newsletter. http://www.chabotspace.org/.

Burt Rutan: Suborbital Space Tourism About to Begin

"I think within the next two to three years there will be tickets available for sub-orbital flights," proclaimed Burt Rutan, the designer of SpaceShipOne, at a recent lecture at Edinburgh University. According to The Scotsman newspaper, Rutan also told the audience, "In 12 or 15 years, there will be routine, affordable space tourism not just in the US but in a lot of countries... When you come back from your vacation, instead of having pictures of snorkelling and hiking, you will actually be the next astronaut. For quite a while that is going to be a very prestigious thing to be." Rutan’s SpaceShipOne will compete for the X PRIZE in late September, with the first competition launch scheduled for September 29.

X PRIZE Affiliates Receive Recognition

Space News, in a special survey, asked readers who they thought had contributed significantly to development in space, tallying the results to publish a list of the "One Hundred People Who Made a Difference in Space" in their 23 August edition. Here's what they said about a few X PRIZE associates:

  • "Peter Diamandis: Popular favorite garnering dozens of nominations from [Space News] readers, Diamandis co-founded the ANSARI X PRIZE, a $10 million purse that has inspired more than 20 teams to build reusable spacecraft in hopes of being the first to send three people into sub-orbital space and back twice in two weeks."
  • "Michael Melvill: The 61-year old test pilot was at the controls of SpaceShipOne when it became the first privately-owned spacecraft to cross the boundary of space 100 kilometers above the surface of the Earth."
  • "John Carmack- The co-founder and chief technical engineer of id Software, makers of the best selling video games "Quake and Doom", is putting some of his lucre into Armadillo Aerospace, which is building a hydrogen peroxide fueled [ANSARI] X PRIZE contender."

Support Private Space Travel: Become an X PRIZE Member!

The X PRIZE Foundation is dedicated to making it possible for YOU to fly into space. We have already inspired a wave of private spaceships through the generous support of the people who want to go. However, our work is not finished. While private spaceships are now flying, we must continue our efforts to open space to the public. Become a member of the X PRIZE Foundation with your gift of $20 or more and watch your name soar into space! You will also receive our new beautiful and personalized electronic membership certificate, suitable for framing.

Please click here to learn more about membership.

The X PRIZE Foundation wishes to thank our Title Sponsor the ANSARI FAMILY and our Presenting Sponsor CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES. You can view Champ Car's site at www.cart.com
The mission of the non-profit X PRIZE Foundation is to create a future in which the general public will personally participate in space travel and its benefits. But all of this requires an investment. Be a part of history. Give to the X PRIZE.
CLICK HERE to Become a General Member for the low cost of $20
CLICK HERE to Become a Senior Associate.
CLICK HERE to help the X PRIZE via a secure donation to PayPal!

Best Wishes!

Dr. Peter H. Diamandis

Mr. Gregg E. Maryniak
Executive Director

Mr. David Treinis
Executive Vice President for Team Relations

Angel Panlasigui
Newsletter Editor

The mission of the non-profit X PRIZE Foundation is to create a future in which the general public will personally participate in space travel and its benefits. But all of this requires an investment. Be a part of history. Give to the X PRIZE.
CLICK HERE to Become a General Member for the low cost of $20
CLICK HERE to Become a Senior Associate.
CLICK HERE to help the X PRIZE via a secure donation to PayPal!

To unsubscribe from the X PRIZE mailing list, please click here, enter your email and click "unsubscribe."