30/11/06: Safely Integrating Space Operations Into The National Airspace System
In the fall of 2004, the Scaled Composites team captured the $10 million Ansari X Prize with two historic flights of SpaceShipOne. At the same time that this remarkable vehicle was earning its pilots the nation’s first commercial astronaut wings, it was also laying the foundation for new markets and opportunities in the commercial space flight industry. Based on the success of SpaceShipOne, Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, Burt Rutan, founder of Scaled Composites, and Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways, recently announced a partnership to operate the world’s first suborbital commercial space tourism flights in 2008. At the same time, a number of new prizes and incentives are being offered to entice further development within the industry. These include an annual X-Prize Cup, the America’s Space Prize, offering a $50 million award for the first commercial orbital reusable launch vehicle, and NASA’s Centennial Challenges, created to foster the development of space exploration technologies. In addition, current government space initiatives will continue to progress as embodied in NASA’s space exploration agenda and the nation’s expanding national defense capabilities for responsive access to space.
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