Research
Space Tourism

The Ansari X Prize wasn’t conceived by the government, nor was it created by a rich socialite as a hobby. It was conceived by a man who was inspired by the success of Charles Lindberg. Peter Diamandis received a book detailing aviation’s lightning innovation years from his friend Gregg Maryniak. Maryniak hoped the book would inspire him to finish his flight hours to become a licensed pilot, not knowing that it would inspire him to think bigger than he could imagine. Peter had dreams of being an astronaut that had never come to fruition. When he saw that the way aviation innovations occurred because of private companies and amateurs offering competitions, he wondered why space travel could not grow in the same manner. Inspired by Charles Lindberg (who made his famous flight across the Atlantic Ocean in a competition for $25,000 dollar from Raymond Orteig), he dreamed of creating a similar competition for space travel. He spent days during his winter vacation in Florida planning a competition he called “X Prize.” Not having a personal fortune, he initiated a fundraising campaign that included costly plate dinners and private donations in order to raise about $10 million. X Prize had 3 very simple rules:
1. Build a spacecraft without government funding.
2. Successfully reach an altitude of 100 km -- also known as the Kármán line -- and return to Earth with room for two passengers.
3. Be able to repeat the trip with two weeks.

Peter Diamandi’s wanted to present a challenge while easier than getting into orbit would present that first challenge and my extension the first step toward making the idea of space tourism a reality.
Competitors
Competitors for X- Prize came from all backgrounds, from self-taught engineers to retired NASA astronauts. In all the competition attracted twenty-six competitors. These idea, numerous tests and homebuilt spacecraft’s while many failed, others saw bits of success that led to corporations being founded devoted to the idea of space tourism.
Burt Rutan was X Prize’s first competitor, telling everyone as he climbed onto the stage at a fundraising dinner “I have dreamt about making a homebuilt spacecraft ever since I’ve been doing homebuilt airplanes,” he stated, “and I’m not going to tell you what I’ve come up with because I want to win this thing.” Rutan wasn’t new to the aerospace scene actually in fact he was quite famous already. Burt Rutan an aerospace engineer made himself famous after starting Rutan Aircraft Factory which mainly focused on plane designs that could be made by amateurs at home. The Rutan Aircraft Factory was not a factory, but a research facility that compiled kits in order to make private planes.
As RAF gained notoriety, Rutan had to take on two employees to manage the customer service sector of the business as larger aircraft manufacturers and the Air Force had become interested in his designs. Scaled Composites was born, and would be the company that would later win the Ansari X Prize. The business was called Scaled Composites because the business used 85% scale models to test plane designs, and the planes were to be made of the same composites that made Rutan famous for his homebuilt planes. In just a few short years RAF closed its doors and moved into a back corner office of Scaled Composites as one employee gave service help. Then in 1994 a few short years before X Prize would even be a thought on Diamandi’s mind Rutan seeking a new challenge began sketching his ideas for a spacecraft. While Rutan’s first designs stated out as the common capsule design for space craft it eventually evolved into what won X Prize a plane like structure testing models at Scaled Composites for months with his co-workers and friends.

References

Belfiore, Michael. 2007. Rocketeers. New York: HarperCollins.

NASA. n.d. A Brief History of NASA. Accessed November 18, 2014. http://history.nasa.gov/factsheet.htm.

Scott, Richard. 2011. "Space tourism closer as Virgin Galactic nears lift off." British Broadcasting Corperation. March 11. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-12909071.

Wikipedia. 2014. "Ansari X Prize." Wikipedia. November 9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansari_X_Prize#Contestants.

—. 2014. "Virgin Galactic." Wikipedia. Nov 9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Galactic.