X-Prize - the Grown-Up's Toy Rocket
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Cog·i·ta·tion [koj-i-tey'-shun] – noun: Concerted
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If you think the size of model rockets has gotten out of hand, you haven't
seen anything yet. A group of international space enthusiasts has offered
the $10 million "X-Prize" to the first private entrepreneur that successfully
builds a vehicle that will launch three people (or a pilot and two equivalent
dummies) to the suborbital altitude of 62 miles, on two consecutive
flights within 2 weeks of each other. Everyone must survive. Around
20 teams, some made up of more than 100 engineers and scientists, have
taken up the challenge. All plan to be towed by airplane or floated
by balloon to an altitude of 30,000+ feet prior to releasing for rocket
burn to space. Landing schemes vary from parachute to a space shuttle-like
glide. The contest was conceived in honor of the 1919, $25k Orteig Prize
that motivated Charles Lindbergh to make his New York-to-Paris flight
in 1927. The da Vinci team from Canada plans to claim the prize within
a year. Burt Rutan, of course, thinks otherwise.