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Monday, June 14, 2004

The New Astronauts: Magellans of the 21st Century
chabot imageThe Guinness Book of World Records may need a new category by the end of 2004. X-Prize competitor SpaceShipOne makes its first publicly announced manned flight into space on June 21st...and then the modern space race REALLY begins!
The Ansari X-Prize competition is patterned after the more than 100 aviation prizes offered in the early 20th century that created today's $300 billion-dollar commercial air transport industry. To win the X-Prize, private teams must finance, build and then fly a three-person spacecraft 100 km (62 miles) to space, return safely, and then demonstrate the reusability of their vehicle by flying it again within two weeks.
Enter revolutionary SpaceDev, the Poway, California space solutions company. Since 1999, Jim Benson, founding Chairman and Chief Executive, and the SpaceDev propulsion team have been working with the engineers at Scaled Composites to create safe, inexpensive, private sector human space flight. Only a year after contracting with Scaled, SpaceDev successfully tested the world's largest hybrid rocket motor. The hybrid system is highly innovative, using nitrous oxide (N20), or laughing gas, as an oxidizer, and hydroxy-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB), or rubber, as the fuel. Both are low cost, in plentiful supply and can be safely transported and stored without special precautions, and will not explode when combined. SpaceDev supplied the rocket science and now supplies most of the key components for the SpaceShipOne rocket motor.
"I am extremely proud of our SpaceDev rocket propulsion team for successfully developing this elegant system, and we are delighted to be part of helping make safe and affordable access to space a reality," said Jim Benson. "With SpaceDev's rocket motor technology, and with the historic SpaceShipOne, commercial, manned, suborbital space flight is now truly within reach, and no longer just a dream." Read More


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