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October 04, 2004

 
[X Prize Logo]47 years to the day after Sputnik, SpaceShipOne touches down in Mojave and wins the X-Prize. Though the prize is no longer in contention, others, such as the Da Vinci Project, plan to follow, making the dream of regular, cheap non-government spaceflight many more steps closer to reality.

To place what has happened today in context, the Mercury missions in the early 60s cost $1.5 billion in 1994 dollars. SpaceShipOne's flight, on the other hand, cost just under $25 million.

On the X-Prize webcast, I'm listening to Peter Diamandis, chairman of the X-Prize Foundation who's talking about how one spaceship is not enough, how real space travel will depend on having a fleet of ships, each with competing designs offer the public increasingly lower costs. Right on. In fact, to keep the spirit of competition in space alive, the Foundation is planning an annual spaceflight grand prix called the X-Prize Cup that should become to space vehicles what the F1 Grand Prix circuit is to automobiles.

 


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