Listen As He Talks About The Risks And Rewards Of Private Space
It's hard to believe, but this coming Tuesday will mark one year
already since Burt Rutan and his crew at Scaled Composites touched
the heavens for the second time with the privately-funded
SpaceShipOne, capturing the dreams of many while in the process
winning the $10 million Ansari X-Prize.
Yes, it's been one year since a bunch of hearty souls in the
California desert launched the quest for affordable space flight on
the wings of a gangly spaceship, elegant in its simplicity, sent
rocketing into the sky fueled by many of the same compounds that
make up the tires on your car.
(And as was perfectly befitting the pioneer vibe to the whole
affair, afterwards they towed the thing around, in celebration,
hitched behind an old Ford pickup. Ya just gotta love
While Rutan and the gang may have indeed done the whole thing
anyway, without any incentive other than to spite NASA, it can't be
denied that the race for affordable space travel would not be as
far as along as it is now without that original $10 million reward,
as well as the cash incentives that still exist for other teams
that complete their goals.
"Evolution through competition" is a Darwinian view that Dr.
Peter Diamandis believes is the key to successful private space
travel. It was Diamandis's idea to provide a hearty cash incentive
for the first team to put a privately-funded vessel into space, and
he found the financial backers necessary (the Ansari family) to
pull it off.
Today, Diamandis (below) runs the X-Prize Foundation, dedicated
to the continuing goal of rewarding those who come up with new and
successful ways to put eager passengers into space. The success of
the initial X-Prize can be measured not only by the accomplishments
of SpaceShipOne, but also in the fact there are several teams
competing to put their own vehicles into space -- and don't forget
that Scaled is also hard at work, on SpaceShipTwo.
Interstellar altruism isn't the only goal -- those teams want
the money, too, and Diamandis wouldn't want it any other way.
With the inaugural X-Prize Cup scheduled to be held October 6-9
in Las Cruces, NM, we thought now would be a good time to revisit a
conversation ANN Senior Editor Pete Combs had with Diamandis three
ANN Talks To Dr. Peter
Diamandis is an
enigmatic speaker, who celebrates the pioneer spirit of the X-Prize
competitors while also being completely unafraid to call NASA on
the carpet for its risk-adverse attitude towards space travel. "The
inability to take risk has made it extremely difficult" for NASA to
go anywhere beyond low-earth orbit, according to Diamandis.
(We'll see if that attitude changes somewhat, now that NASA
plans to return to the moon.)
Listen to our featured Aero-Cast, and then tell us what you
think. Will the X-Prize continue to reach for the sky, or will it
end up stuck on the ground, watching NASA blast off into the
Aero-News Aero-Casts: If it's IN the air -- or space -- we have
it ON the air!