X-Prize - the Grown-Up's Toy Rocket
If you think the size of model rockets has gotten out of hand, you haven't seen anything yet. A group of international space enthusiasts has offered the $10 million "X-Prize" to the first private entrepreneur that successfully builds a vehicle that will launch three people (or a pilot and two equivalent dummies) to the suborbital altitude of 62 miles, on two consecutive flights within 2 weeks of each other. Everyone must survive. Around 20 teams, some made up of more than 100 engineers and scientists, have taken up the challenge. All plan to be towed by airplane or floated by balloon to an altitude of 30,000+ feet prior to releasing for rocket burn to space. Landing schemes vary from parachute to a space shuttle-like glide. The contest was conceived in honor of the 1919, $25k Orteig Prize that motivated Charles Lindbergh to make his New York-to-Paris flight in 1927. The da Vinci team from Canada plans to claim the prize within a year. Burt Rutan, of course, thinks otherwise.
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