Mojave, CA, September 29, 2004 – The Space Frontier Foundation applauded the first successful X Prize flight by Scaled Composites today and wished the team good luck on their second flight.
“The X Prize has inspired and excited people around the world about space,” said the Foundation’s Rick Tumlinson, who acknowledged that Burt Rutan and his partner, billionaire Paul Allen, spent well over the $10 million dollar purse to build and fly their spacecraft. “This isn’t about the money. It is about opening the frontier. It is about showing the world that the space game isn’t just for multi-billion dollar government players,” said Tumlinson.
The Foundation’s members see the X Prize competition as a harbinger of dramatically lower costs to put people and payloads into space. They acknowledge the great difference between sub-orbital flights, which involve much lower speeds and do not have to deal with the intense heat and other forces encountered by orbital vehicles, but they still believe contrasts between the X Prize effort and plans for a new NASA shuttle replacement (where some estimate over $25 billion is going to be spent to develop a space capsule) are valid.
“Sure, orbital flight is a lot harder to do than sub-orbital, but a thousand times harder? I think not,” Tumlinson commented. “I think this shows it is time for the government to get out of the Earth-to-space transportation business and back to exploration.”
The Foundation is hopeful that the success of the X Prize will convince the government to offer prizes and contracts to a variety of commercial firms, rather than trying to operate its own vehicles. It supports new prize initiatives and believes the development of a New Space industry carrying both commercial and government people and payloads into space is the only way NASA can afford to carry out plans to go back to the Moon and on to Mars.
“This summer Burt Rutan and his team blew the hinges off the door to space with their first flight. Now they are showing they can keep that door wide open for all of us,” said Tumlinson. “Scaled Composites and the X Prize are proving that access to space can be made routine, which means costs will drop and more and more people will get to go, including government astronauts on their way to the Moon and Mars.”
Both the X Prize and Scaled Composites will be receiving Awards from the Foundation at its thirteenth annual conference on RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach California, October 8-10, 2004. Also in attendance will be many alternative space firms and other X Prize team members and leaders.
For further information and registration go to: