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Space The Almighty Buck Science

X Prize Competition Gets New Sponsor, Amended Name 203

An anonymous reader writes "The X Prize Foundation today announced that entrepreneurs Anousheh Ansari and Amir Ansari have made a multi-million dollar contribution to the X Prize Foundation. As a result, the X Prize Competition is being renamed to the Ansari X Prize Competition." However, the X Prize rules stay the same: "The ANSARI X PRIZE will award $10 million to the first private organization to build and fly a ship that can carry three passengers 100 km (62 miles) into space, return safely to Earth and repeat the launch with the same ship within two weeks. Both flights must be completed by January 1st, 2005."
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X Prize Competition Gets New Sponsor, Amended Name

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  • Re:Wow, interesting. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @09:25PM (#9069627)
    Why don't you look [scaled.com] for yourself?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @09:28PM (#9069647)
    Yes, it does [xprize.org].

    "The flight vehicle must be built with the capacity (weight and volume) to carry a minimum of 3 adults of height 188 cm (6 feet 2 inches) and weight 90 kg (198 pounds) each. Three people of this size or larger must be able to enter, occupy, and be fastened into the flight vehicle on Earth's surface prior to take-off, and equivalent ballast must be carried in-flight if the number of persons on-board during flight is less than 3 persons."
  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @09:30PM (#9069664) Homepage Journal
    At least those who do it for "publicities" sake, you can't argue that this investment is a boon to the cause.

    And to risk venturing off-topic for a second,
    I think Ansari X prize should consider expanding there efforts at not just the tech to get us there, but to provide a prize for the think tank that can invent a corporate (manufacturing?) incentive to go there. Basically, show practical applications in space and provide due dilligence.
    Or maybe more on the mark... provide a multimilllion dollar reward for the company that can first create an operable facility in space.

    Yeah... wishfull thinking, but the more efforts put towards extra-terrastial expansion the better I say.
  • by Ieshan ( 409693 ) <ieshan@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @09:35PM (#9069704) Homepage Journal
    This was an obvious joke, but I'm not sure if moderators really get it-

    Ads really are going on baseball bases. Spiderman 2 has bought the rights [cnn.com] to put some logos on baseball bases in the next few weeks.

    Next thing you know, corporate sponsors will be buying insightful or funny slashdot posts.

  • by LupusUF ( 512364 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @09:36PM (#9069711)
    "5. The crew must return to the Earth's surface from both flights in good health as reasonably defined and judged by the X PRIZE Review Board. The flight vehicle must return from both flights substantially intact, as defined by and in the sole judgment of the X PRIZE Review Board, such that the vehicle is reusable."

    Rule number 5 :)

    I guess they don't put in on the press release since it points out that people might not come back in good health...but the full rules don't let dead people win.
  • Re:Loopholes (Score:5, Informative)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @09:40PM (#9069736)
    As someone already pointed out, it says that the ship has to return safely, not the passengers.
    Nope. Rule 3 says "Each flight must carry at least one person..."

    It does not specify if the passengers have to be alive or not. If you send up corpses, it is easier to keep them intact than it is to keep live passengers alive.
    It's even stricter than that. Rule 5 says "The crew must return to the Earth's surface from both flights in good health as reasonably defined and judged by the X PRIZE Review Board."

    Mice? Does not say you can't send them instead of humans.
    Nope, but Rule 3 says "person" and I don't think mice count as people.

    Try finding loopholes in the actual rules [xprize.com] instead of the Slashdot summary of them.
  • by phoenix.bam! ( 642635 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:14PM (#9069925)
    This is incorrect. Ion Propulsion is only good for micro-gravity / zero-gravity travel. As it only adds small amounts of energy to the craft built up over a long period of time to reach fast speeds. This method of propulsion is impossible to use (as it is currently implemented) for flights from the surface of the earth into outer-space.
  • by Docrates ( 148350 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:15PM (#9069932) Homepage
    SUB-Orbital!. Getting into orbit requires an amount of speed and power that is waaaay beyond what the X-Prize entrants can currently achieve.

    I mean, sure, once they start running a profitable business taking people up to space, Zero G for seconds to a few minutes, and then down real fast, then they can start working on the exponentially harder orbital flights, which will be even more profitable with business applications as well as pure fun.
  • by MikeJ9919 ( 48520 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:23PM (#9069971) Homepage
    Umm...he didn't say that everyone in the Middle East wanted to nuke America. He specifically mentioned Iranians. With all due respect to the Ansaris and the vast majority of the Iranian people, it would raise my suspicions, too. The simple fact is that despite the current "moderate" executive branch of the Iranian government, the religious extremists actually hold all the power. They've demonstrated this by vetoing attempts at reform by the President and, most recently, disqualifying a vast portion of the legislature from reelection for ambiguous "religious" reasons. These hard-liners would like nothing better than to see more planes flown into American buildings. Absolutely the only thing stopping them is fear of retribution ala Afghanistan or Iraq.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @10:28PM (#9069997)
    MRF, an Indian rubber and tyre company, started an entire sporting goods manufacture operation simply to get around ICC rules that the only logos that could occur on cricket bats were that of the bat manufacturer. That way Sachin Tendulkar can play with a bat with MRF written on it in big letters.

    I look forward to seeing the "Spiderman 2 Bat and Base Corporation" starting soon ...
  • by RedWizzard ( 192002 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:07PM (#9070226)
    You're forgetting about a little project called "Apollo".
    You're forgetting about the two week stipulation. The Apollo mission launch dates:
    1. Apollo 7: October 11, 1968
    2. Apollo 8: December 21, 1968
    3. Apollo 9: March 3, 1969
    4. Apollo 10: May 18, 1969
    5. Apollo 11: July 16, 1969
    6. Apollo 12: November 14, 1969
    7. Apollo 13: April 11, 1970
    8. Apollo 14: January 31, 1971
    9. Apollo 15: July 26, 1971
    10. Apollo 16: April 16, 1972
    11. Apollo 17: December 7, 1972
    The Apollo program only once managed two launches of different vehicles in two months, let alone two launches of the same vehicle in two weeks. Still they did a bit more than a 100km up and down so we can't complain.
  • by rootus-rootus ( 151960 ) <dlw&taco,com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:08PM (#9070234) Homepage
    It is being done.... See the scaled composite web site for info on their *Manned* test flights.

  • by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:33PM (#9070354)
    The deadline is 7 months away and we have yet to see an actual unmanned test launch.

    Not true. Check out these tests [scaled.com] . They have a 40 second manned burn under their belts and could probably win the X-prize tomorrow if the paperwork were squared away.

  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Informative)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:39PM (#9070393) Homepage
    That was the idea behind the prize in the first place, but no big donor stepped forward early -- hence the "X" prize because there was no name, yet, to attach to it. The intention was always to name it after whoever stepped up with the prize money.
    No. It was named the 'X' prize after the series of ground breaking experimental aircraft built by the USAF and NASA. (Think X-1, X-15, etc...)
  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:46PM (#9070423) Homepage
    Just out of morbid curiosity, are there any /.ers here who are involved with the X-Prize in any way? If so, do any of these guys have any ideas on what would be next for the X-Prize?
    The best place on the 'net to keep track of these things is the sci.space.* heirachy on Usenet. Several X-prize contenders post there from time to time (Including Burt Rutan and John Carmak) as well as many folks in the CATS movement (notably Jeff Greason of XCor) and many, many folks knowledgeable about space related things in general.

    (Disclaimer: Like any Usenet group, we have our share of trolls, but most of them are easily identified and kill filed. In general the s.s.* groups have an extremely low tolerance for fools, idiots, and those unwilling to learn. It's a tough place to get started in, but well worth it if you are truly interested in the topic.)

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Informative)

    by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Wednesday May 05, 2004 @11:55PM (#9070470) Homepage
    That's why they chose the letter "X". At the time Pournelle and others (including myself) had been pushing for the resumption of the X program which had pretty much petered out. We got DC-X, and then the X-series started to revive (although not quite in the same spirit as the original program.)

    The prize program itself was very much modelled on named prizes like the Orteig Prize, and "X" worked out both for unknown and for the X Program. Both the named prize and X program memes were floating around in space activist circles (Space Frontier Foundation, the old L5 component of NSS, High Frontier, etc -- not the NSS and Planetary Society fanboys) in the late 80s/early 90s.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

    by KJACK98 ( 623902 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:11AM (#9070545)
    http://www.gmu.edu/alumni/spirit/00fall/ansari.htm l If you look at the donators background, I don't think you could find a better or more honorable person to have sponsored this event... This woman definitely deserves her name to be recorded with X Prize's History...
  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:12AM (#9070547) Journal
    Here's a picture [xprize.org] of her with Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne.
  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Informative)

    by martingunnarsson ( 590268 ) * <martin&snarl-up,com> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @02:24AM (#9071076) Homepage
    Clickable [gmu.edu].

    Karma whoring at it's best.
  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Informative)

    by Branc0 ( 580914 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @05:55AM (#9071734) Homepage Journal
    Actually your link [gmu.edu] is wrong... you missed the final "l" in "html" :)
  • by foolish ( 46697 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:32AM (#9073865)
    Not only has Scaled made several shots, but currently there's a lot of speculation that the Scaled folks are aiming for the culmination of the second flight on either July 17th or the 20th (both rather significant rocketry dates IIRC).

    Armadillo has done hover tests as well. The UK group (starchaser) has done some unmanned testing of their rocket infrastructure as well. I know the DaVinci team is also planning at least one launch attempt this summer/early fall as well.

    Too bad about Armadillo Aerospace, unless the jet vanes really work well, it doesn't sound like they'll be launching this year. Still, their vehicle programme might go farther for the orbital race.

    you might try checking the Scaled, Armadillo Aerospace, DaVinci team, Starchaser sites. The X-prize site is also useful.

    XCor looks like they're going to get there, but they are the ready-steady course and are designing their way instead of for XPrize compliance.
  • No, not Rutan (Score:3, Informative)

    by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @12:21PM (#9074514) Homepage
    There are no posts of sci.space.* by Burt Rutan in recent years (or anyone else of scaled composites ). He is pretty tight-lipped, especially when compared to Carmack.

    You will find, however, many informative posts by the one and only Henry Spencer [lysator.liu.se], author of The Ten Commandments for C Programmers [lysator.liu.se] and possibly the most knowledgeable person in the world about the history of the U.S. space program.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."