SpaceShipOne and Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC. team reaches over 360,000 feet to win the $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE. The threshold of space is 328,000. Brian Binney, who piloted the flight was released from it's mothership White Knight at 50,000 feet early this morning. Binney continued into space breaking the August 22, 1963 record by Joseph A. Walker who flew the X-15 to an unofficial world altitude record of 354,200 feet.
|The Ansari X Prize was inspired by the early aviation prizes of the 20th Century, primarily the spectacular trans-Atlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh in The Spirit of St. Louis which captured the US $25,000 (US$) Orteig prize in 1927. Through a smaller, faster, better approach to aviation, Lindbergh and his financial supporters, The Spirit of St. Louis Organization, demonstrated that a small professional team could outperform a large, government-style effort.
The Ansari X Prize follows in the footsteps of more than 100 aviation incentive prizes offered between 1905 and 1935 which created today's multibillion dollar air transport industry. But the main difference is that the X Prize is about spaceflight.
Since its inception in May 1996, the X PRIZE Foundation has registered more than 20 teams from seven countries to compete for the prize. The ANSARI X PRIZE is fully funded through January 1, 2005, through private donations and backed by an insurance policy to guarantee that the $10 million is in place on the day that the prize is won. Additional funds are still being raised by the X PRIZE Foundation to implement the competition (judging, media, event management, etc.) and continue the Foundation's education mission.
The $10,000,000 prize was rewarded to the team that first met the following guidelines:
The vehicle must be privately funded and privately constructed which means that a large government cannot come in and win the competition in a manner which does not lead to economically viable tourist capability.A video can be found here. And SpaceshipOnes homepage here
Reaching an altitude of 100km. This is beyond the official 50-miles that the US Air Force recognizes as “worthy of astronaut wings” but 50-miles is not so high that the re-entry speed requires exotic heat shielding.
Requiring a vehicle which can fly three people means that ANSARI X PRIZE registrants will be designing vehicles which can begin to generate revenue traffic following their certification, after the ANSARI X PRIZE has been won.
Finally, requiring that the same vehicle fly twice within two weeks means that cost per reflight is only the cost of fuel and the limited “touch-labor” that can be applied in this short period of time. Therefore, we hope that cost per seat will be reasonable and affordable to many.