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America's Space Prize: The next step into commercial space travel (Official Post)

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posted on Feb, 25 2005 @ 09:53 PM
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Brian Binnie made history on October 4, 2004 when he piloted the world's first privately designed and build spaceship into Earth sub-orbit for the second time to win the ten million dollar Ansari X Prize. The main mission of the Ansari X prize was have a team of privately funded civilians build a spaceship to reach an altitude of 100 km by a sub-orbital flight twice within a two week turnaround period. Mojave Aerospace Ventures led by Burt Rutan were the group of individuals that were first to accomplished this feat. This was the first major step on the long road of privately funded space travel. In the spirit of progress another space challenge has entered the eye of the public, this new challenge is called "Americas Space Prize". However this prize is of much greater difficulty and significance then the famous Ansari X prize. The main objective of this new prize is to send a privately funded and build spacecraft into earth orbit for at least 2 full orbits at an altitude over 400 km. The reason why it is much harder to achieve orbit rather then sub-orbit is the speed required. SpaceShipOne went at about mach 3 (about 3700 km/h or 2300 mph) when it performed its sub-orbital flights, but to achieve Earth orbit at an altitude 400 km a speed about eight times greater is need (roughly 29,000 km/h or 18,000 mph). With such speed a multitude of problems arise, from the heat created by entering/leaving the atmosphere to spacecraft integrity to flight controls, all of these issues must be addressed before the spacecraft's first flight. These were the same problems that NASA faced less then 50 years ago trying to achieve the same goal. The great the challenge, the greater the reward, Nevada millionaire Robert Bigelow offers a prize of $50,000,000 to the first team to safely and successfully achive the mission stated by the "American Space Prize". The next five year should definitely be interesting as we will see many teams from all across America compete to win this prize before the deadline of January 10, 2010.

Sources used: www.space.com...
www.space.com...
americasspaceprize.com...
www.avweb.com...

All the rules of the American Space Prize are as follow:

#1. The spacecraft must reach a minimum altitude of 400 kilometers (approximately 250 miles);

#2. The spacecraft must reach a minimum velocity sufficient to complete two (2) full orbits at altitude before returning to Earth;

#3.The spacecraft must carry no less than a crew of five (5) people;

#4. The spacecraft must dock or demonstrate its ability to dock with a Bigelow Aerospace inflatable space habitat, and be capable of remaining on station at least six (6) months;

#5. The spacecraft must perform two (2) consecutive, safe and successful orbital missions within a period of sixty (60) calendar days, subject to Government regulations;

#6. No more than twenty percent (20 percent) of the spacecraft may be composed of expendable hardware;

#7. The contestant must be domiciled in the United States of America.

#8. The contestant must have its principal place of business in the United States of America.

#9. The Competitor must not accept of utilize government development funding related to this contest of any kind, nor shall there be any government ownership of the competitor. Usin government test facilities shall be permitted.

#10. The spacecraft must complete its two (2) missions safely and successfully, with all five (5) crew members aboard for the second qualifying flight, before the competition’s deadline of Jan. 10, 2010.


This is the official American Space Prize post, everything containing to this matte should be posted here as to keep ATS as organized as possible. I will update this post on a regular basis and post new information as soon as it comes to my knowledge. But must importantly I would like to start a discussion of this subject and hear my fellow members opinions.


[edit on 25-2-2005 by beyondSciFi]




posted on Feb, 25 2005 @ 09:58 PM
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I will be helping you update as well as it is a special interest of mine
I do think that these
#7. The contestant must be domiciled in the United States of America.

#8. The contestant must have its principal place of business in the United States of America.
rules should get scrapped, as it will supress innovation in the end. Most small groups outside of the USA will not be able to compete and it in the end spawn another prize and steal America's Prize's thunder(a BIG maybe though ...) . I dunno but it seems like it could happen. Alot of people who didn't make it in the first competition are going to be gearing up for the next step fast and furious, and those with prior experiance will have an edge. Unless Rutan and Co. just run away with it again, then Moot point


[edit on 25-2-2005 by sardion2000]



posted on Feb, 25 2005 @ 10:08 PM
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Cool thanks for the help Sardion2000 I really appreciate it.


I think it would have been better if they got the whole world involved though ... not just America. It would have been cool to see designs from all over. Still this will definitely be very interesting. This is like a new space race...



posted on Feb, 25 2005 @ 11:09 PM
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I agree this is a great competition... except that it is effectivley open only to the US and US businesses... i think it should be an international contest so that the best minds of the world can be utilised...

It seems to me the competition backer is trying to ensure that the USA is the primary force in space... possibly worried europe and the chinese may take over as the 1# in orbit.



posted on Feb, 26 2005 @ 01:21 AM
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I compiled a list of the ones that competed for the Ansari X-prize.

American Astronautics- American
Acceleration Engineering - American
American Advent - American
ARCA- Romania
Armadillo Aerospace - American (Still testing.. testing.. testing)
Bristol Spaceplanes - England ??
Canadian Arrow - Canada (Test flights)
Da Vinci - Canada
Discraft Corporation - American
Fundamental Technology Systems - American
High Altitude Research Corp.- American
Interorbital Systems - American
ILAT - Israel
Lone Star Space Access - American
Micro Space - American
Pablo de León & Associates - Argentina
PanAero, Inc. - American (only sub systems tested)
Pioneer Rocketplane - American
*Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC. - American (Won)
Space Transport Corporation - American
Starchaser Industries LTD - England (engine test)
Suborbital Corporation - Russia (Prototype only)
TGV Rockets, Inc. - American
Vanguard Spacecraft - American

Lots of american entires, and I only think the Canadian Arrow group was even close to beating Scaled systems. I could be wrong.. but also I am too tired to try and research more



posted on Feb, 26 2005 @ 01:56 AM
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Originally posted by beyondSciFiI think it would have been better if they got the whole world involved though ... not just America. It would have been cool to see designs from all over. Still this will definitely be very interesting. This is like a new space race...


well by what he said "America has lost so much ground [in space]," he said. "Over time, we are going to be creating the first private space station." i say hes doing that for the sake of independant space capability for our country, a business move really.



posted on Feb, 26 2005 @ 12:01 PM
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Lots of american entires, and I only think the Canadian Arrow group was even close to beating Scaled systems. I could be wrong.. but also I am too tired to try and research more


No you're right, the DaVinci project came within at least a month of launching then when SS1 launched they pushed it back indefinetatly. There is another team that got pretty close as well, the Canadian Arrow team, not sure if they still play on launching, but I know for a fact the DaVinci group is going to launch this year. I doubt they are going to compete in America's Space prize, as it was a 100% volunteer and donation supported project, sorta like Open Source space exploration
But any success could net them some business partnerships.



posted on Feb, 26 2005 @ 01:12 PM
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For those who have not seen these historic flights, I have found a couple of videos on the net.

The offical website: www.scaled.com...

Videos of the Ansari X Prize winning flight along with other flights: www.scaled.com...

A lengthy documentury type video: www.space.com...://wm.world.mii-streaming.net/media/deepblu/scaled_composites_x2_300.wmv&where=home

Another collection of SpaceShipOne flights: webjay.org...

If anyone finds any new information about the Americas Space Prize, I would appreciate it if they could post a link here. I have been having trouble finding other sources of information because only the previous sites that I have posted before seem to have any news about this event. Hopefully this will change in the upcoming future, which I have to doubt about since the official site of the challenge should be up on the net soon.

[edit on 26-2-2005 by beyondSciFi]



posted on Feb, 26 2005 @ 01:28 PM
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There are no altruistic reasons for this prize. Bigelow is offering this prize strictly in a move to corner the market in space habitats. Rule number 4 says

"The spacecraft must dock or demonstrate its ability to dock with a Bigelow Aerospace inflatable space habitat, and be capable of remaining on station at least six (6) months"

If Bigelow is smart, which he clearly is, he will ensure that his space habitats have a patented design for the docking station. This prize will guarantee that all of the new space travel ventures will only be able to dock with his space stations.

One mistake he is making is the exclusion of non-Americans. Richard Branson is going to be a major player in private space travel.



posted on Feb, 26 2005 @ 01:32 PM
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Here are a few more links... This prize is very early, do not expect to find the same amount of info on this prize as is available on the X-Prize yet, I believe this prize expires in 2010, not sure about that though...

www.wired.com...

www.spacex.com...



posted on Feb, 26 2005 @ 01:50 PM
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Originally posted by Soldier
There are no altruistic reasons for this prize. Bigelow is offering this prize strictly in a move to corner the market in space habitats...
... If Bigelow is smart, which he clearly is, he will ensure that his space habitats have a patented design for the docking station. This prize will guarantee that all of the new space travel ventures will only be able to dock with his space stations.


Well, im sure Bigelowm has his own reasons behind this challenge, but commercial space travel has to start somewhere...

Sar, thanks for the links, they were an interesting read. And your right, the deadline is in 2010, January 10, 2010 to be exact.



posted on Feb, 26 2005 @ 04:27 PM
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I found that the Bigelow Aerospace Inc. company is the main force behind the America Space Prize. Unfortunately much to my disappointment they didn't state any other information about the challenge on their site besides the rules of the contest. Although they did post telephone and fax numbers to get in contact with... www.bigelowaerospace.com...

[edit on 26-2-2005 by beyondSciFi]



posted on Feb, 26 2005 @ 05:20 PM
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beyondSciFi, stay tuned and be patient. Lots of things are going to happen this year. Keep an eye on Canadian space projects in particular, I know for a fact some exciting things are going to happen soon, pay attention during Springtime. DaVinci project and the Canadian Arrow might be launching(one or both, I know one is going for sure by spring an that is the DaVinci project not sure about the Canadian Arrow). I know not a contestants in Americas space prize, but could be intersting nontheless.



posted on Feb, 26 2005 @ 05:31 PM
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Hehe patience is not one of my virtues. I have also heard about the DaVinci project lauching soon, it should be an interesting flight. Your probably right though, this is going to be an interesting year.



posted on Feb, 27 2005 @ 10:35 AM
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I would think that Bigelows inflatable hotel modules combined pack enough mass to allow suspending a rotating tether from them and catch them crewvehicles up, wich are flying on an altitude of 150-200 km with mach 3 or something, at least this would lower very much the requirements (as opposed to mach 18) for the crew vehicles, in fact, the Bigger the bigelow hotel, the better, once big enough they could start hoisting up new inflatable habitats with the tethers as well.

Now if somebody gave me the 50 million in advance i would start building that rope thingy...


[edit on 27-2-2005 by Countermeasures]



posted on Feb, 27 2005 @ 11:58 AM
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some how i think there would be more benifit for a prize like this for a soace elevator



posted on Feb, 27 2005 @ 01:45 PM
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Originally posted by Countermeasures
I would think that Bigelows inflatable hotel modules combined pack enough mass to allow suspending a rotating tether from them and catch them crewvehicles up, wich are flying on an altitude of 150-200 km with mach 3 or something, at least this would lower very much the requirements (as opposed to mach 18) for the crew vehicles, in fact, the Bigger the bigelow hotel, the better, once big enough they could start hoisting up new inflatable habitats with the tethers as well.
[edit on 27-2-2005 by Countermeasures]


What exactly are you saying? Are you implying that there are spacecraft out there that can go to 150-200 km altitude only with a speed of mach 3? That is not possible today or will it be the near future. But thats not even the big problem, the BIG problem is that since the craft is traveling at mach 3 and the tether is traveling mach 26 (same speed as the modules not mach 18). Linking them up would be near impossible because the difference in speed and the exacting requirements of connecting them. Not only that the tether is like a big rope and would be almost impossible to control it. But lets say that even if this could be done... the spacecraft would be destroyed by the tether (considering that the tether is strong enough and the module has enough mass) because it would be accelerated from mach 3 to mach 26 very fast (considering the locking device does not break on connection). There so many problems with this that its simply WAY too impractical to even attempt this. Then again maybe I miss understood what you wrote...


Originally posted by Jehosephat
some how i think there would be more benifit for a prize like this for a soace elevator


The main problem with space elevators is that we currently do not have strong enough materials to build one, but not only that building that high now is near impossible. But even if it is build in the later future, it would be a serious problem if one fell. Can you imagine how much destruction this would cause! But they would also be impractical and wasteful once we discover antigravity...

[edit on 27-2-2005 by beyondSciFi]



posted on Feb, 27 2005 @ 02:43 PM
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The main problem with space elevators is that we currently do not have strong enough materials to build one, but not only that building that high now is near impossible. But even if it is build in the later future, it would be a serious problem if one fell. Can you imagine how much destruction this would cause! But they would also be impractical and wasteful once we discover antigravity...


You're obviosly not an Engineer or a Scientist heh
I was talking to a Geologist the other day talking about this very subject, and he said that if we find a way to spin carbon-nanotubes in any length we want we could have a working space elevator capable of lofting payloads of cargo into orbit by 2020. It's not as hard as it sounds.

Step 1: Discover new way at spinning CNTs

Step 2: Create multiple strands over 60,000 km in length(again once we have the proper tech, it will not be as hard as it seems)

Step 3: Launch a satellite into Geo-syncronis orbit and start lowering the CNT tethers to earth until they reach the ground where they are then permanently attached to earth

Step 4: Repeat Step 3 until stable cable is formed

Step 5: Figure out how to send stuff up this new way into space

Step 6: Start sending up cargo for 100 times cheaper then before


Again I will say the only thing holding us back is ways to spin CNTs into long strands. Right now we only are capable of creating strands up to 3 meters in length, but lots of work is being put into it and I wound't be surprise if a breakthrough were to happen in the next few years.



posted on Feb, 27 2005 @ 03:39 PM
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Like I said before... Its impractical to build a space elevator once we have antigravity. Also the process of making carbon nanotubes is still in its experiment stages and is not capable of mass production. I never said that it was impossible to build, I just said that it wont happen ANY TIME soon if EVER. Just because you talked to Geologist, what makes you think he knows any better, its not his field of knowledge. Did you even think about the steps you wrote?

Step 1: like this is sooo simple...
Step 2: mass production would be needed to do this, and even when its possible, it would still require a lot of materials to make it happen.
Step 3: geosyncrois orbit is 36,000 km and you plan on lowering tethers down to the earth all the way? The satellite would have to carry a large amount of nanotubing just for one strand to reach the earth. That nanotube strand would be moved around so much by the wind in the atmosphere it would cause MANY problems.
Step 4: Do you have any idea how many satellites you would need to make a descent cable? A LOT! And you plan on wrapping the cables around each other with the satellites still attached? needless to say but this is impractical.
Step 5: Step five is easy once you have a good sized cable. Just make a cable hugging device that goes up and down while carrying a payload. But for this to work the cable has to be very thick so that the "elevator" could grab on to it and carry a big enough load to be of use in space.
Step 6: This is not a step, this is a result and beside it would not be cheaper, but it probably be more expensive then launching it on a shuttle. Why? because of the infrastructure need to build this "space elevator" is so great that it is IMPRACTICAL to build one.

BUILDING SOMETHING IS NEVER EVER AS EASY AS IT SOUNDS!

No offense Sar, but maybe you should have taken more time to think about this before you wrote it.

[edit on 27-2-2005 by beyondSciFi]



posted on Feb, 27 2005 @ 04:58 PM
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I'm aware of the difference in orbital speed between the crevehicle and the bigelow spacehabitat, thats why i mentioned a rotating tether, so that tip of the tether virtually travels slower and might get catched by the crew vehicle.




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