- 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.