View Full Version : X-Prize countdown: private spaceflight starts Sep. 29

2004-06-02, 15:12
So Burt Rutan of http://scaled.com and his Paul Allen funded team have announced they expect to make their inaugural flight for the US$ 10M Ansari X-Prize (http://www.xprize.org/) this summer.


Prior flights of the tandem launch vehicles, White Knight and Spaceship One, have demonstrated all of the new technology required and reached 211,000 feet (40 miles).

The pending flight will include a crew of three (at least one with onboard camera), and is scheduled to deliver several new views from chase planes above and below the rocket.

The X-Prize rules state they've got to get three people to 62 miles and repeat the ride within 2 weeks to prove turnaround of the reusable spacecraft.

Speculation about the commercial passenger cost has revolved around a likely target price of US$ 50K for a ride to the edge of space, considerably cheaper than the $10M needed for a few days of orbits on the ISS.

More importantly, shifting away from a pure dependence on military/government lift vehicles stands to open up the universe to new players, and potentially greater access for future generations as new technologies and innovative solutions broaden the market and lower the cost of escaping gravity.

Lots to look up and look forward to in the next 30 days.
Venus transits the Sun for the first time since colour photography was invented June 8.
Mars Rovers inspect new outcrops and craters (ongoing... next briefing June 10)
Cassini encounters Saturn's Moon Phoebe (likely a captured Kuiper belt object) June 11.
Private human spaceflight prepares to get the Kitty Hawk press treatment June 21.
Cassini orbital insertion of Saturn (and closest pass to Rings) July 1.

Going to be a fabulous month in the solar system.

2004-06-02, 23:12
Yes it will be an interesting summer. I'm really pulling for Burt. He is such an out of the box thinker. It seems to me that its been a long time coming for other fertile minds to start playing in space. It would be spectacular if private enterprise is able to lower the price of sub orbital and orbital flight. I wonder if we'll eventually be able to see the "Golden Arches" from upstate NY when the ISS passes over?

2004-06-03, 15:15
One thing to note: With the flight on the 21th, Rutan is not making an attempt at the Ansari X-Prize. For that you'd have to give 30 days notice and carry a payload corresponding to the weight of 3 persons.

But it will be a great 30 days ahead, yes.

Ansari X-Prize (http://www.xprize.com/)

2004-06-05, 15:01
If successful, Mr. Rutan's flight will be a truly momentous one in the history of aviation and space flight. Go Burt, Go!

2004-06-21, 01:41
Less than 8 hours (http://space.com/missionlaunches/SS1_guide_040618.html) until Mike Melvill (http://space.com/missionlaunches/SS1_pilot_040620.html) gets Astronaut credentials in SpaceShipOne

More reports here (http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/sso_rutan_archive.html)

2004-06-21, 09:54
Aaaaaaaaaaaaand.... they're off!

White Knight/SpaceShip One just took off.


Slowest. Launch. Evar.


2004-06-21, 11:16
Again, CNN coverage sucks bawls. Geez.

2004-06-21, 11:17
Safe landing of SpaceShipOne. Mission Success.

Onboard video should be available within the hour.

2004-06-21, 11:25
That's awesome. :) :) :)

2004-06-21, 12:02
Again, CNN coverage sucks bawls. Geez.

CNN was pretty weak in their coverage. MSNBC has some better footage.
Still flicking back and forth between them.

The official press conference (with expected onboard video) is due within the hour.

2004-06-21, 22:08
Any technical barriers for the team to take this into actual orbit...or is this not part of the eventual plan?

2004-06-21, 22:40
Well, they've got to fix a few glitches (http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/SS1_press_040621.html) and repair the dent, among other things.

Rutan says they won't go up again until they understand what, when, why, how, etc.

But a 60-day warning on an attempt at the X-prize will be the next timeline clue.

Managed to surf most of the major network news coverage looking for more video.
Most had onboard video from external cams on the feather, and dashcam views of Melvill making M&M's ad folks wet themselves with glee at the free global PR as candies float in zero-gee.

PBS mispronounced names and sometimes showed footage of White Knight under audio for SpaceShipOne.

CBS' Dan Rather intro'd the story with: "Not Starship Enterprise, but Private Enterprise".

NBC's Brokaw left the story for the final segment and mentioned space tourist prices of $30K 'soon'.

ABC had the best coverage, with two stories. One on the flight, complete with video and comments from Melvill and Rutan, that was competitive with the other network coverage in and of itself. The second included more on the impact of commercial space development, the X-Prize, and comments from Elon Musk of SpaceX, and Peter Diamantis of the X-Prize foundation, whose quote referenced the Wright Brothers and Lindberg in the same League as today's flight.

Discovery Channel may have had the best coverage, since much of the footage had their slug.

2004-06-21, 23:06
A great achievement, any way you look at it. I especially like the method of getting there---'skimming' up into space . If I remember correctly, this was a method considered by the U.S. gov't way back when, and favoured by the Air Force, but was rejected in favour of the brute force of the 'big tube' rocket. I wonder if, even back then, the decision was not so much the technological potential of one method over the other, but a political victory of one agency over another.

2004-06-21, 23:13
It was the Germans.

Specifically, Werner von Braun, who headed Germany's V1 and V2 projects, and ended up the lead designer at NASA through, um... the early 60's?

Werner's approach was classically German: big, brute force approaches that were spectacular and symbolic as much as, if not more so, than practical.

Ol' Werner had one tool in his toolbox, and it was a sledgehammer.

2004-06-21, 23:28
I caught the take-off this morning before work on CNN (I agree the coverage was pitiful... even the questions asked were kind of stupid). Heard about the successful return at the bar after work.


2004-08-17, 12:34
Rutan has now announced his X-Prize launch dates.
First flight is scheduled for September 29th.
The Canadian Arrow team has announced an intended launch Oct. 2.
2nd flights must be made within two weeks to qualify, so the beginning of October may be historic.

Space.com has updates (http://space.com/news/space_barnstorm_040813.html) and has additional stories on several team efforts.

Ad Luna, Ad Ares, Ad Astra

2004-09-15, 18:14
Two weeks to X-Prize Attempt #1 by SpaceShipOne... and counting.

Launch Webcast (http://web1-xprize.primary.net/press_room/press_releases/press.php?presstitle=20040727) scheduled for Sept 29 at 0600 hrs Mohave time.

[ Mods, can we get a title edit for Sept 29th? Thanks. ]

2004-09-27, 19:21
Sir Richard Branson licenses Rutan's SpaceShipOne technology for Space Tourism.

Coming soon... Virgin Galactic (http://www.scaled.com/projects/tierone/092704_scaled_paul_allen_virgin_galactic.htm) http://www.scaled.com/projects/tierone/images/virginGalactic.gif (http://www.virgingalactic.com/)

2 days until X-Prize Flight #1. (http://web1-xprize.primary.net/launch.php)

And the next challenge prize has already been announced $50Million for Private Orbital Craft (http://space.com/missionlaunches/bigelow_spaceprize_040927.html)

2004-09-27, 19:44
Very cool about the Virgin Galactic plans. We mortals will have to wait until the tourist phase is over. If I'm paying $200k to go up to sub-orbital space, I'd like to at least land somewhere else.

I think the real hope of this is that in 20 years or so it'll be a matter of hours rather than days to travel say, from the U.S. to Australia.

And of course, a bit cheaper. :lol:

2004-09-27, 19:47
The best parts about related articles are when it says things like

"Virgin galactic has commissioned a new fleet of spaceships"


Makes me feel like I live in a bubble dome.

2004-09-27, 20:02
Makes me feel like I live in a bubble dome.

Science fiction has promised me a flying car and I'm still waiting for it dammit.

2004-09-27, 20:13
Science fiction has promised me a flying car and I'm still waiting for it dammit.

I was secretly hoping that when the year 2000 hit, some mad scientists life work of creating a button that suddenly turned every car into a flying car, would be fulfilled. Sadly, I was let down.

2004-09-27, 21:50
Science fiction has promised me a flying car and I'm still waiting for it dammit.

Ha! Funny thing is there was an article in a local paper about flying and rocket cars. They're thinking around 2020 is when they'll start to mass market them.

2004-09-27, 23:36
Ha! Funny thing is there was an article in a local paper about flying and rocket cars. They're thinking around 2020 is when they'll start to mass market them.

Yeah, they're always saying that. I had a subscription to Popular Science when I was a kid and every six months they had an article about flying cars. Pshh. You think I'm going to fall for that?

2004-09-28, 00:06
Funnily enough, Moller's Flying car made the news yesterday.


u/p: appleinsider/appleinsider if required ;)

2004-09-28, 15:39
Funnily enough, Moller's Flying car made the news yesterday.

Of course, all Moller has given us over the past 20 years is vaporware. Maybe he should have a look at Rutan.

curiousuburb: Thanks for the pointer to the New York Times article, I had missed it.


2004-09-28, 18:49
14 hours and counting. Launch scheduled for 09-29-2004 0600PDT

http://xprize.org/ has linked webcast (WMP) promising 100 and 300k streams.
NASA TV doesn't have anything scheduled, but I'll check it to see if they'll cover it.

I expect the networks to get it wrong again, but some surfing may find less oblivious coverage.

And Branson's Virgin Galactic isn't planning on using SpaceShipOne per se, or its flight profile.
Virgin Galactic flights will hold pilot + 5 passengers and plan to offer 3 hours of microgravity.

2004-09-29, 11:47
Just watched the flight live on CNN (much nicer than a webcast). Wow! Those 30+ rolls were scary. I'd be happy just to get a gride in the Walter Extra low-level chase plane. ;)

I'm leaving tomorrow for two weeks of ballooning in New Mexico. Maybe I'll have to plan a day (or night) trip to Mojave to witness the second prize flight.


2004-09-29, 12:52
http://a52.g.akamaitech.net/f/52/827/1d/www.space.com/images/xprize_ss1success_0929_ff.jpg (http://space.com/missionlaunches/xprize_success_040929.html)

A few sphincter moments by the sound of the roll, but 'successful' so far.

2nd flight to officially win the X-Prize is tentatively set for Monday.

NASA TV is running some B-roll from today's flight. Check local times.

2004-09-29, 13:25
Frigging Miles O'Brien...if he said roll again I was going to smack my TV.

It wasn't that big a deal, since they were going vertical but he was trying to spin it into another Challenger.

Anyway, either CNN or the pool cameras focussed in on the frigging CHASEPLANE for the landing (complete with Miles' narration...landing gear is down [showing the chaseplane], oh my, how historic :rolleyes: ), only to pull back at the last second as the real SS1 streak by in landing. Nice one, guys.

And how about, oh, having several cameras, so in case one dipshit cameraman doesn't realize it will pick up velocity when the rocket ignites, maybe another will still have it in frame? (Yes I realize is isn't easy to track things that far).

2004-09-29, 13:33
Anyway, either CNN or the pool cameras focussed in on the frigging CHASEPLANE for the landing

How fucking stupid are these people? :mad: I couldn't believe it!


2004-09-29, 18:12
I watched the streaming version of NASA TV at work...it was phenomenal!~

Oh, and they had radar-controlled cameras....didn't the networks have those feeds?? The guys at NASA TV just got quiet when things got a bit dodgy....they didn't turn into shrill shitheads. Glad I watched NTV! :D

2004-09-29, 18:55
Ok I'm glad I wasn't imagining things. :D

About 10-20 seconds of:
Blurry zoom of a white vehicle
"Landing gear is down!" etc
Waiting for landing
Abrupt pullback and refocus of wideshot of landscape/runway
Space Ship One rolling from right of the screen to the left having already landed offscreen
Miles O'Brien playing it off that he was talking about SS1 all along (I think in fact he was watching the feed?)

Then no mention that they had focused on a chase plane.

(If any of that is wrong please correct me). I'd love to see some tivo of that.

Not a big deal in the sense that, yeah I can go watch it on Nasa TV streams but really, this is CNN. wtf.

That combined with his shameful eagerness to inflate the rolling into a "story"...even the dude that was with him was not biting and kept popping his bubble.

2004-10-04, 11:20
Damned if he didn't win it.

Good Job Burt!!!

:) :) :)

2004-10-04, 11:50
Damned if he didn't win it.

Good Job Burt!!!

:) :) :)
Dissing NASA (or Naysay as he put it) all the way. 100x safer than anything that has ever gone into space is his stated goal, though somebody needs to tell him that orbital velocity is about Mach 25 and not the Mach 2 that SS1 topped out at...

We have a long way to go.

2004-10-04, 13:06
http://a52.g.akamaitech.net/f/52/827/1d/www.space.com/images/ss1_wxprize1_1004_ff.jpg (http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/xprize_full_coverage.html)

And there was much rejoicing.

And another employee of Scaled gets his astronaut pilot's wings.

(More clips from the press conference and new video clips later today.)

2004-10-07, 21:44
Looks like the prize=progress bug is catching...

Xprize foundation and World Technology Network just announced (http://space.com/news/new_xprize_041007.html) a pending series of prizes

According to the X Prize Foundation and the World Technology Network, examples of privately-funded solutions in scientific and social fields might include the following:

1.______ Transportation: Demonstration of a 4-seat vehicle able to achieve 200 miles per gallon in a cross country race

2.______ Nanotechnology: Construction of a pre-determined molecule by an assembler

3.______ Aging deceleration: Extension of mammal life, or demonstrated evidence of aging reversal

4.______ Education: Demonstration of a self-sufficient education facility able to operate independently and educate villagers anywhere on the planet

Both groups are looking to identify Fortune 500 companies interested in assisting in the creation of the prizes by funding the purse in turn for title sponsorship rights._

The first WTN-X Prizes are expected to be announced in six months.

The WTN and X Prize foundation have developed a website to court competitors and attract sponsors: http://www.wtnxprize.org/

Go to the website and recommend a challenge worthy of prizes.

Meanwhile, the Bigelow (http://space.com/businesstechnology/technology/spaceprize_techwed_041006.html) prize for orbit gains credibility.

But I think there's already a Methuselah prize for extending the life of lab mice.

It's all good.