Future Imperfect: The Ansari XPrize, SpaceShipOne & Private Spaceflight

how_make_spaceship_coverHow to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, An Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight
by Julian Guthrie
Penguin Press, 2016
Hardcover, 448 pages
ISBN 978-1-59420-672-6
US $28/Canada $37

Reviewed by Douglas Messier

On Sept. 8, I arrived home at about half past noon to find a package sitting on my doorstep. It was a review copy of a new book by Julian Guthrie about the Ansari XPrize and SpaceShipOne titled, How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, An Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight.

I laughed. The timing was perfect. Ken Brown and I had just spent five hours in the desert — most of them in the rising heat of a late summer day — waiting for WhiteKnightTwo to take off carrying SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity on its first captive carry test flight.

It was the first flight in nearly two years of a SpaceShipTwo vehicle since Unity’s sister ship, VSS Enterprise, had broken up during a Halloween test flight, killing co-pilot Mike Alsbury. Ken and I had been there on that day, too.

(more…)

Coming Up Soon: A New Book About Peter Diamandis & Ansari X Prize

SpaceShipOne lands after its historic spaceflight on June 21, 2004. (Credit: Ian Kluft)
SpaceShipOne lands after its historic spaceflight on June 21, 2004. (Credit: Ian Kluft)

If you have been wondering how the X Prize was going to mark the 20th anniversary of its signature space prize in May (and who hasn’t), wonder no longer. A key piece of the puzzle is in place. Peter Diamandis writes:

An Award-winning author and journalist Julian Guthrie has just completed an amazing book that chronicles my life’s story and the decade-long $10M Ansari XPRIZE in which a group of amazing space entrepreneurs competing in the new race to space. Her last book on Larry Ellison and the America’s Cup was a best seller.

Julian’s book tells a beautiful narrative story of my life, as well as the stories of Burt Rutan, Erik Lindbergh, Paul Allen, Richard Branson, and the many teams who competed in the singular quest to build and fly the world’s first private manned rocket into space.

The author is looking for advice on the title and subtitle for the book. You can vote here on Survey Monkey.

Mojave Journal: The Ansari X Prize’s Awkward Family Reunion

Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary panel discussion on Oct. 4, 2014.
Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary panel discussion on Oct. 4, 2014.

One Year Ago, the Ansari X Prize Turned 10
It Was an Uncomfortable Birthday

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The planes kept coming and coming. One after another, they swooped out of a blue desert sky and touched down on the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port. By mid-morning there were at least a dozen private jets stretched along the flight line running east from the Voyager restaurant toward the control tower. And even more were on their way.

And to what did Mojave owe this ostentatious display of wealth by the 1 percenters? They had come to the sun-splashed spaceport last Oct. 4 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ansari X Prize. A decade earlier, Burt Rutan and his Paul Allen-funded team had won $10 million for sending the first privately-built manned vehicle into space twice within a two-week period.

(more…)

Apollo, Ansari and the Hobbling Effects of Giant Leaps

spaceshipone_first_spaceflight
The author films as WhiteKnight taxis with SpaceShipOne on June 21, 2004. (Credit: John Criswick)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Oct. 4, the world marked the anniversaries of two very different space milestones. In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik. And in 2004, SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X Prize by becoming the first privately-built vehicle to fly to space twice within two weeks.

While Sputnik quickly led to Sputnik 2 and 3, the Ansari X Prize has been followed by a decade of frustration. SpaceShipOne never flew again, nor has anyone replicated its accomplishments since. The dream of a vibrant new industry that would routinely fly thousands of tourists into space has remained just out of reach.

So, why did Sputnik quickly help spark a revolution that would transform life on Earth, while the Ansari X Prize led to 10 years of extravagant promises and desultory results? And what does this tell us about the role of prizes in moving technology forward?

(more…)

Ansari X Prize 10th Anniversary Webcast

The Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary webcast from Saturday featuring Burt Rutan, Anousheh Ansari, Chuck Beames, Brian Binnie, Mike Melvill, Richard Branson and Peter Diamandis.

Scaled Composites Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Ansari X Prize Win

Mike Melvill stands atop SpaceShipOne after a suborbital flight on Sept. 29, 2004. (Credit: RenegadeAven)
Mike Melvill stands atop SpaceShipOne after a suborbital flight on Sept. 29, 2004. (Credit: RenegadeAven)

MOJAVE, Calif., Oct. 3, 2014 (Northrop Grumman PR) – A decade after winning the Ansari XPRIZE with one of the most innovative vehicles ever flown, the employees of Scaled Composites, a Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) subsidiary, continue to push the boundaries of aviation and the emerging commercial space industry.

(more…)

X Prize Foundation Grosses $1.2 Million from Ansari X Prize Anniversary Tour

We’re getting our first updates on the exclusive $40,000 per person Ansari X Prize 10th Anniversary trip being lead by X Prize Foundation Founder Peter Diamandis.

It appears as if “about 30” people signed up for the trip, grossing the X Prize Foundation about $1.2 million. The group includes W. Brett Wilson, whom Canadians will remember as having formerly starred on the CBC show Dragon’s Den, and mining magnate Rob McEwen, whom Canadians will remember as the guy who digs big holes in the ground.

(more…)

Ansari X Prize 10th Anniversary Celebration Webcast

Mike Melvill stands atop SpaceShipOne after a suborbital flight on Sept. 29, 2004. (Credit: RenegadeAven)
Mike Melvill stands atop SpaceShipOne after a suborbital flight on Sept. 29, 2004. (Credit: RenegadeAven)

ANSARI XPRIZE 10th ANNIVERSARY WEBCAST
Saturday, October 4, 2014
4:00 to 5:30 p.m. EDT
(1:00 to 2:30 p.m. PDT)

Host: Peter Diamandis, XPRIZE Founder and CEO

Guests

Anousheh Ansari
Ansari X Prize benefactor

Chuck Beames
Executive Director, Stratolaunch

Brian Binnie
SpaceShipOne’s pilot for the prize winning flight

Mike Melvill
SpaceShipOne’s pilot for the first record-breaking flight

Burt Rutan
SpaceShipOne designer

Richard Branson
Founder, Virgin Group

Additional Details

10th Anniversary of First Ansari X Prize Flight

Ten years ago today, Mike Melvill made the first of two suborbital flights aboard SpaceShipOne required to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize. It was a wild flight as the vehicle got into a rapid roll on its way to space.

Brian Binnie made the second suborbital flight on Oct. 4, 2004, to win the Ansari X Prize. The requirement was to make two flights into space within two weeks.

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.”

(more…)

Activity Seen in Mojave Bullpen as Ansari X Prize 10th Anniversary Looms

SpaceShipTwo on a glide flight with WhiteKnightTwo above it. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
SpaceShipTwo on a glide flight with WhiteKnightTwo above it. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

UPDATE: I apparently misunderstood about the SpaceShipTwo flight that might be made this week. It would be another glide flight, not a powered one.  That could happen on Thursday or possibly Saturday. I apologize for the error.

Nearly four weeks after SpaceShipTwo’s most recent glide flight, there have been signs of activity here in Mojave and credible reports of an even more ambitious flight test coming in a week or so.

SpaceShipTwo was sighted outside on the ramp in front of Scaled Composites’ Hangar 75 on Monday morning. Engineers were doing some type of work or testing on the ship, which Scaled is building for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic company.

(more…)

Tickets Available for Ansari X Prize Celebration

SpaceShipOne lands after its historic spaceflight on June 21, 2004. (Credit: Ian Kluft)
SpaceShipOne lands after its historic spaceflight on June 21, 2004. (Credit: Ian Kluft)

Good news, everyone!

If for some reason you didn’t get an invitation to the big Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary lunchaganza next week, there’s still a chance for you to go.

There’s just one hitch: it’ll cost you $2,500. And you’ll have to come to Mojave. That’s two hitches, actually. But, you only have to stay a few hours.

The X Prize Foundation has launched a crowd funding campaign for its new initiative, the Global Learning X Prize. Anyone who contributes $2,500 will receive a ticket to the invitation-only event on Oct. 4.

So far, two people have taken up the offer out of 100 tickets available. The event includes a two-hour luncheon with speeches, etc. Richard Branson, Paul Allen and Burt Rutan are expected to attend.

Ansari X Prize 10th Anniversary Shindig Set for Mojave

SpaceShipOne lands after its historic spaceflight on June 21, 2004. (Credit: Ian Kluft)
SpaceShipOne lands after its historic spaceflight on June 21, 2004. (Credit: Ian Kluft)

Burt Rutan, Paul Allen and Richard Branson are among those who will gather at the Mojave Air and Space Port on Oct. 4 to mark the 10th anniversary of SpaceShipOne winning the $10 million Anari X Prize, Parabolic Arc has learned.

X Prize Foundation Chairman and CEO Peter Diamandis will preside over the invitation-only event, which is expected to draw hundreds of guests. The foundation sponsored the prize for the first privately-funded vehicle to fly into space twice in two weeks.

(more…)

Ansari, Garver to Appear at SFF TEDx Event in New York Next Week

Anousheh Ansari

SFF PRESS RELEASE

The Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) will sponsor the first TEDxMidTownNY event to discuss the continued importance of exploration with X-Prize Cofounder Anousheh Ansari and Deputy Administrator of NASA Lori Garver. TEDxMidTownNY is a local, independently organized event to be held on September 14th, 2010 at 7 PM at the Explorers Club in New York, NY.

A diverse group of scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, adventurers, investors, teachers, and students will share their perspective and leave the event inspired to improve the collective future of humanity through space exploration. Tickets are available now through the Explorers’ Club website.

(more…)