Проект Ansari X Prize - будущее космического туризма
Организаторы конкурса утверждают, ссылаясь на рыночные исследования, что около 10 000 американцев сейчас готовы заплатить до $100 000, чтобы совершить космический полет.
Проект X Prize предусматривает доставку экипажа на высоту всего 100 км – это можно назвать "ближним" космосом. Вернувшись благополучно на Землю, команда должна будет повторить путешествие в течение следующих 14 дней. Используемый при этом корабль должен вмещать трех космонавтов, хотя по условиям конкурса команда может направить в космос всего одного пилота с оборудованием, вес которого будет соответствовать весу двух человек. Корабль не будет выводиться на орбиту или слишком удаляться от места старта. Траектория корабля лишь "слегка заденет" область настоящего космоса, однако и на этой высоте космонавт сможет взглянуть на родную планету, почти как с настоящей орбиты. Возможно, ему удастся также несколько мгновений побывать в состоянии невесомости. Общая длительность каждого эксперимента составит порядка 15 мин.
Фонд X Prize финансируется частными спонсорами, список которых включает первого космического туриста Денниса Тито (заплатившего $20 млн. за право полетать в составе российской космической экспедиции), Джона Гленна (бывшего астронавта, а ныне сенатора США), киноактера Тома Хэнкса, Эрика Линдберга (внука знаменитого летчика) и др. First USA Bank пожертвовал фонду $1 млн., такую же сумму предоставила организация "Новый дух Сент-Луиса", наследница ассоциации, спонсировавшей полет Линдберга в 1927г.
В мае 2004 года проект X Prize был официально переименован в Ansari X Prize в связи с появлением у проекта нового главного спонсора - братьев Anousheh и Amir Ansari.
Из истории фонда X Prize
In 1994, Gregg E. Maryniak gave Peter H. Diamandis a copy of the Spirit of St. Louis, written by Charles Lindbergh. Dr. Diamandis read the book and realized that aviation prizes had been one of the critical forces in opening up today’s $250 Billion aviation industry. Diamandis had the idea of creating a cash prize for space travel as a mechanism to implement his life-long dream of traveling into space.
In 1995 Diamandis established the X PRIZE Foundation with the assistance of Byron K. Lichtenberg, Colette M. Bevis and Gregg E. Maryniak. The Foundation received early seed funding from Tom Rogers and John McLucas and was initially headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. The concept of the X PRIZE was first announced in the pages of Ad Astra Magazine (National Space Society).
In late 1995, seeking a community to back the idea of the X PRIZE, X PRIZE Founders were introduced to the leaders in the St. Louis community through Doug King and Marc Arnold. King, a friend of the X PRIZE, had recently been recruited as the President of the St. Louis Science Museum, and Arnold, a business partner of Diamandis’, had been a long-time successful businessman in St. Louis. Both believed that the X PRIZE could bring value to St. Louis.
St. Louis had once been a center of the aerospace industry. Dating back to the days before Lindbergh, starting with the 1904 Worlds Fair, St. Louis was a center of aerospace innovation. The Mercury and Gemini capsules which paved the way to the Apollo Moon landings were designed and built in St. Louis. Unfortunately, most people think of beer or the Arch, or historical images when St. Louis comes to mind. It was exactly for these reasons that the business leaders of St. Louis welcomed the X PRIZE with open arms, as a high-profile, high-technology enterprise
In January of 1996, X PRIZE Founders met with Alfred H. Kerth (the Secretary of Civic Progress), Doug Fleming (head of the Regional Commerce and Growth Association), Hugh Scott (the past Mayor of Clayton, MO), Walter Metcalf (the Chairman of Bryan Cave, the leading St. Louis law firm) and Doug King. It was decided that the X PRIZE would move its headquarters to St. Louis, and that the St. Louis community would provide the seed funding to organize the Foundation.
It was Al Kerth who proposed the idea of creating the New Spirit of St. Louis organization as the major funding mechanism to underwrite the Foundation’s startup costs. In 1925, nine St. Louisians jointly funded Charles Lindbergh with the $25,000 he needed to build the Spirit of St. Louis. This group of nine leaders called themselves the Spirit of St. Louis Organization. Kerth’s plan was to create the new Spirit of St. Louis Organization as a group of 100 business leaders that would each contribute $25,000. First to sign up was Ralph Corte, followed soon after by Marc Arnold, Steve Schankman and Irv Zuckerman. Within one month, the first 10 members were on board. Today that number exceeds 65 people and is rapidly growing towards the 100 person limit.
On March 4th, 1996, the first dinner of the New Spirit of St. Louis Organization was held at the historic Racket Club in the Central West End. It was at this exact club, some 69 years earlier, that Charles Lindbergh had closed the funding he needed to build and fly his aircraft. Using the same table, the X PRIZE signed up an additional 20 members of the New Spirit of St. Louis Organization. The group then included some of St. Louis’ leading business figures such as Dr. Danforth (Chancellor of Washington University), Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Taylor (CEO of Enterprise Rent-a-car), and John McDonnell (Chairman of the McDonnell Douglas Foundation). Following the success of this meeting, an announcement and kick-off of the X PRIZE was planned for May 18th under the Arch.
Prior to the official announcement a number of important steps needed to be taken. This included appropriate briefings to NASA, the FAA and members of the leading space and aviation organizations, as well as recruiting international support of the competition. X PRIZE Founders traveled to Paris where Federation Aeronautique International, the Aero-Club de France and the advising participation of Dr. Herbert Curien (past Minister of Science and Technology) were recruited. The group then traveled on to Sri Lanka where a personal message from Arthur C. Clarke was recorded to serve as a kick-off to the founding event.
On May 18th, 1996, under the Arch in St. Louis, in front of a crowd of television cameras, reporters and proud onlookers, the creation of the X PRIZE competition was announced. Participating in this event was a large number of important supporters of the Foundation. Through the strong efforts of Alan Ladwig, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin flew to St. Louis that morning to lend his strong support and encouragement. Through the excellent coordinated efforts of Andy Turnage of the Association of Space Explorers and Byron K. Lichtenberg, twenty astronauts participated in the event. Earlier that day, all 20 space fliers had spoken at schools in the St. Louis area. In addition, the X PRIZE Founders were proud to have the participation of Erik and Morgan Lindbergh. Both Grandson’s of Charles Lindbergh, Erik would go on to become very involved in the X PRIZE and join the Board of Trustees.
May 18th 1996 was a magical day. In the morning was a press conference featuring presentations by: Morgan and Erik Lindbergh, Peter H. Diamandis, Richard Flemming, Buzz Aldrin, Burt Rutan and Dan Goldin. In the evening a gala black-tie event was held at the St. Louis Science Center. It was at this event that Burt Rutan, the famed aviation designer first announced his intent to compete for the X PRIZE Competition.
In late 1996, the X PRIZE was successful in recruiting Gregg E. Maryniak to join the organization full-time as the Executive Director. Gregg and his wife Maureen relocated from Princeton, New Jersey to St. Louis, and offices were established in the McDonnell Planetarium of the St. Louis Science Center.
The next major gala for the X PRIZE was held on September 27th, 1997. It featured Tom Clancy as the keynote speaker. It was during Tom’s presentation to the assembled audience that he personally offered a donation of $100,000 to support the X PRIZE Foundation’s efforts. At this event, the X PRIZE assembled representatives from over a dozen teams that had registered to compete in the competition during the previous year.
It was through the publicity generated from this 1997 gala that the X PRIZE came into contact with its first major Corporate Sponsor, FirstUSA. In May 1998, at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and that the National Press Club, the X PRIZE, jointly with First USA (BankOne), announced that the first $5 million of the prize purse had been funded and that a series of X PRIZE credit cards were being issued. These cards allowed the cardholder to help contribute to the Foundation as well as win a chance for various space-related flights and awards (the grand prize being a trip into space).
In May 2004, the X PRIZE was officially re-named the ANSARI X PRIZE to reflect the generous multi-million dollar donation from the Ansari family. Entrepreneurs Anousheh and Amir Ansari, who were born in Iran, have always had a dream of traveling in space and believe that their donation will help others realize this goal.
(По материалам сайта http://www.xprize.org)