Scaled Composites, winners of the now infamous X-Prize competition, last week received their prize money of $10 million. The competition, arguablly a massive sucess, has sparked a number of companies into designing (if not making) a vareity of space ships. The prize has triggered activity in a whole new branch of travel : space tourism. Scaled Composites announced a partnership with the Virgin Group to offer people the chance to head into space.
However, although the X-Prize might be dead, its concept is not. NASA, amongst others, announced that is asking people for suggestions for competitions similar to the X-Prize. Called "Centinnial Challenges", they are hoping to stimulate public and private interest in investing resources into areas of research.
Not to be out done, recently Bigelow Aerospace announced its sucessor to the X-Prize : The America's Space Prize. Worth $50 million to the winner, a company will have to build a space craft capable of taking 5 crew to 400km above the earth. As well as this, they'll have to complete two complete laps around the earth, and repeat the whole thing within 60 days. The deadline for completion is Jan 10th, 2010.
All of these innitiatives are to spark interest in the space tourism market just as similar prizes did for the airline industry in the early 20th century.