The commercial space race didn't end earlier this month when SpaceShipOne broke the atmosphere for the second time in less than a week. In fact, it's just beginning. The X Prize Foundation announced that it will launch an annual event known as the X Prize Cup and Public Spaceflight Exposition. Co-sponsored by the state of New Mexico, this 10-day program will be "a cross between Champ Car Grand Prix racing, the America's Cup, and the Olympics," say the organizers.
The exposition has three goals in mind. First, organizers want to build public interest and participation in commercial spaceflight. Second, they hope to bring the sponsorship revenue model to the space industry and capture an annual $20 billion sponsorship market for spaceship developers. Finally, they want to motivate X Prize teams to continue to build and improve their spaceships.
Teams will compete in six categories: fastest turnaround time between launches, maximum number of passengers on a single flight, total passengers during the expo, maximum altitude, fastest flight time to 100 km, and "coolest looking spaceship." The team with the highest combined score will win the X Prize Cup. There also will be exhibits of new technology, interactive experiences for spectators, and educational camps for kids..
For details, go to www.ansarixprize.org.