Los Angeles, CA, May 20, 1999 – The first space launch of a rocket system designed without government assistance is scheduled for May 22, 1999 from the Black Rock desert in Nevada. The launch will be conducted by JP Aerospace, a Sacramento area company. It will be a test flight for a cash prize offered by the Space Frontier Foundation and the Foundation for the International Non-Governmental Development of Space (FINDS), two private, international organizations that promote the rapid human settlement and development of space. The Foundation’s Cheap Access to Space (CATS) prize has attracted dozens of teams across the world to gear up to win the $250,000 prize by November 8, 2000.
JP Aerospace plans to launch its rocket to a height of 100 kilometers, a step towards future rockets designed to attain the 200 kilometer altitude required to win the CATS Prize. Although they expect many failures in the effort to win the prize, the organizers are confident that it can be won by the deadline, and that the project will help change people’s thinking about who can play in the space arena.
“From the golden age of exploration to Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic, prizes have inspired imaginations and helped knock down barriers,” says Foundation President Rick Tumlinson. “The CATS Prize is designed to inspire the future Henry Fords and Thomas Edisons of space, and to send a signal that anyone can participate in the opening of the frontier, not just governments.”