Parabolic Flights Dropped From Ansari X Prize Anniversary Trip

Swimsuit 2014: Zero Gravity Kate Upton Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. (Credit: James Macari)
Swimsuit 2014: Zero Gravity
Kate Upton
Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. (Credit: James Macari)

The X Prize Foundation has suddenly dropped parabolic microgravity flights aboard Zero-G Corporation’s G-FORCE ONE aircraft from the itinerary of its $40,000 per person Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary trip.

Instead of floating around in zero g next Friday, participants will be sitting around listening to presentations from the “top Google Lunar X Prize teams.”

Ansari_X_Prize_Trip
It’s not clear from the X Prize’s website which teams will be participating, or whether all current teams — which are spread out around the world — were given the opportunity to present to the high net worth individuals on the trip.

Despite the dropping of the Zero G flights — which cost $4,995 per person plus tax — from the itinerary, the cost of the overall trip remains at $40,000 on the X Prize website.

peter_diamandis
Peter Diamandis

The zero gravity flights were listed on the X Prize website on Wednesday when Parabolic Arc did a post about the trip. The following day, the itinerary for Friday was changed to presentations from Google Lunar X Prize competitors.

The parabolic flights were a curious addition to the itinerary because the management company that formerly operated the flights for Zero G ended its contract earlier this year and repossessed the three engines it has leased for the Boeing 727 in June.

When Parabolic Arc asked Zero G for comment earlier this month, a spokeswoman said the company is working on its flight schedule for 2015. She would not respond to questions about whether the company had replaced the engines or whether the aircraft was operational.

The four-day adventure trip has limited seats and priority is being given to X Prize Innovation Board members and Vision Circle members. It costs $750,000 to become an Innovation Board member.

“Take confidence in the fact that XPRIZE Chairman, Peter Diamandis, is personally curating these four days to make it one of the most extraordinary trips of your life!” the X Prize’s website exclaims.

  • Dennis Ray Wingo

    Wait a minute, here were are in almost October of 2014. There is absolutely no chance that any of the Google Lunar X Prize teams are going to launch before the end of the prize, that is unless there are launch deals that no one has been told about floating around. That seems unlikely as to launch by the end of next year you have to be manifested by now.

  • windbourne

    First off, astrobotic is schedule for oct 2015 on an F9.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_launches#Launch_history_and_manifest

    Secondly, I wonder what is going up on the Falcon Heavy?

  • Douglas Messier

    I wonder when the Falcon Heavy is going. At the rate they’re degressing on the schedule, it will be 2016 by the time they launch it.

    It’s already slipped well into 2015. It was supposed to be early in the year, then it slipped into summer. Much more slippage and it gets dodgy for next year.

  • Douglas Messier

    Good question.

    It also possible X Prize Foundation was advertising zero g flights on a plane that is likely still grounded after its engines were repossessed in June. It continued to do so until after I wrote about it on Wednesday.

    Also, I wonder if invites went out to all the teams to spend part of next Friday making pitches to the high net worth individuals on this trip. This note mentions the “top teams.” Who are they? And should the foundation be playing favorites?

  • Vladislaw

    Does SpaceX just not want to use three cores for a test flight when they have such a backlog on the launch manifest?

  • Vladislaw

    I would imagine they will discount 3900 dollars from the 40000 fee now ….. smiles

  • mfck

    I am not sure the FH core and boosters are interchangeable with regular F9 cores, at least for the early FH flight(s). Do you have a source that states otherwise?

  • Tonya

    The two outboard boosters on the FH have slightly stretched fuel tanks, so not directly interchangeable.

    Though if there was a hypothetical production backlog, it would probably be with the engines or another high complexity component, and those are only added to the cores at the end of assembly.

    My own suspicion is that they delay is simply due to the number of highly complex projects and the number of brains available to work on them. Dragon will have a higher priority internally as it’s a better revenue provider.

  • Vladislaw

    refering to manufacturing capabilty .. prior to Shotwell’s recent statements about ramping up production they could only work on so many cores at a time…. by working on three FH 1st stage boosters it would mean not working on three F9 cores.

  • windbourne

    nuts. really?
    That is not good.
    I wonder if they are having issues with the X-over?

  • windbourne

    SpaceX has only so much money and so many ppl.
    As I noted before, whenever SpaceX does one of its tests, I have noticed that regular production stops, which likely means that they are devoting resources to the new work.

    I do have to wonder if their X-over is working?

  • mfck

    Oh, OK, that makes some sence…

  • ThomasLMatula

    Its not on the schedule on the Falcon at Space X and that Wikipedia entry references a 2011 article, so I don’t think so 🙂

    Also getting a launch vehicle is only the first step, you also need to get your licenses in order. One from NOAA for Earth imaging and one for the launch or for ITAR if you are using a foreign vehicle. Neither will be a quick process and I see no evidence any of the U.S. teams have even starting the licensing process.

    Bottom Line, I don’t see any one going until 2016 at the very earliest. Given its track record I expect the X Prize Foundation will get Google to extend the deadline so the hype and money will continue to flow.

    Pity Google didn’t just fund a mission like the International Lunar Observatory in 2007, it would have landed in 2009. But the X Prize folks sold them on a “cheaper, faster, better” way to the Moon. 🙂

  • ThomasLMatula

    Space X has its hands full so I don’t expect it until 2017 at the earliest.

  • Sam Moore

    The prize ends at the end of next year, not this one, and Barcelona Moon Team have a manifested launch in June 2015. Whether they actually have something to put on that launch is pretty unclear right now, but it’s definitely manifested.

  • Dennis Ray Wingo

    Manifested with whom?

  • Dennis Ray Wingo

    There is no mention of a manifested payload on the Falcon 9 for 2015 from them.

    http://www.spacex.com/missions

  • Sam Moore

    China Great Wall Industry Corporation. They don’t publicly post manifests (or pretty much anything else), but BMT have mentioned a signed contract including a fixed date; http://www.barcelonamoonteam.com/barcelona-moon-team-shifts-launch-date-for-the-lunar-mission-to-june-2015/

  • Dennis Ray Wingo

    It will be interesting to see how that plays out…..

    Thanks for the info.

  • Vladislaw

    On the Astrobotic website the only mention I could find is under reliability, launch procured from spacex … no dates though.