Counting Down To Blast Off
The first every X Prize
Cup is scheduled to make its October debut in Las Cruces, New
Mexico. The event, scheduled to take place October 6th to 9th will
showcase spacecraft prototypes, rocket planes, and numerous
demonstrations and launches.
Although no teams will launching vehicles into space at the
event, there will be liftoffs, takeoffs and rocket flames, during
the four-day event. It's aimed at setting the stage for contests to
come, according to Peter Diamandis, chairman and founder of the X
"Our goal is to grow into an event that does bring in tens of
thousands, and hundreds of thousands of people," Diamandis said
Friday during a Las Cruces news briefing.
Texas-based Armadillo Aerospace will launch a small version of
its vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing spacecraft, built for this
demonstration. It should be capable of hovering 20 to 30 feet off
the ground, said Armadillo's Russell Blink to MSNBC. "We'll be
doing a short hover demonstration, and depending on what the
vehicle's performance is, if we want to apply for an FAA waiver we
can let it fly higher."
Former astronaut Richard Searfoss plans to show off XCOR
Aerospace's EZ-Rocket plane from Mojave, Californis. He's planning
several demonstration flights.
Starchaser Industries recently set up headquarters in New Mexico
and will test fire a rocket engine that could be used on its
suborbital test craft in 2006. "We'll strap it down so it's not
going to go anywhere, and then we'll light it up," said Steve
Bennett, Starchaser's director. The company will also show off a
mockup of their crew capsule for public tours.
Oklahoma's Rocketplane Ltd., Canada's da Vinci Project,
Beyond-Earth Enterprises, The Tripoli Rocketry Association and
others plan to show off their technology, or even to launch rockets
up to 30,000 feet during the event.
New Mexico plans to develop a Southwest Regional Spaceport near
Las Cruces in the near future, supported by $9 million in state
funds. Diamandis said private-sector spaceflight could open new
development opportunities for New Mexico.
"There are a number of very serious efforts that will be flying
in the next six to 18 months," said Diamandis. He said the event
will show that there are several serious players in the commercial
race for space.