Air and Space Expo: A Sightseer's Paradise
A poster for the Holloman Air and Space Expo, which runs Oct. 27-28, 2007.
Credit: Holloman AFB

Look up, but also look around. The latest in military aviation and private rocket entrepreneurship is being readied for flight later this month at the upcoming Holloman Air & Space Expo in Alamogordo, New Mexico – a tour de force of aerospace technology staged in collaboration with the Wirefly X Prize Cup.

Along with high-flying aircraft and rocketry, the October 27-28 expo will be a ground and eye-level treat for those visiting the show. On display will be a unique collection of hardware that affords those attending a look at both governmental air prowess and private spaceflight initiatives.

"This year's Cup is literally an order of magnitude more exciting than last year," explained X Prize founder, Peter Diamandis. "We've moved the venue from Las Cruces Airport to the Holloman Air Force Base and are expecting 60,000 to 80,000 to attend compared to last year's 12,000 attendees," he told SPACE.com.

For the aviation side of the venue, it's going to be top-flight, Diamandis added. "We also are bringing the Air Force's coolest and highest-tech flying machines to this party," he said, pointing out that Holloman is the home of the F22-Raptor, the most incredible flying machine in America's arsenal, as well as the F-117 stealth fighter.

Sightseeing manifest

On the sightseeing manifest for expo visitors are displays and exhibits by key, leading-edge enterprises, such as Rocketplane Kistler, XCOR Aerospace and Starchaser, alongside Northrop Grumman and NASA.

Space advocacy groups such as the National Space Society, the Space Frontier Foundation's Teachers in Space initiative and the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space are to be on-hand. So too are several space-oriented museums and institutes, including the Robotics Society of America and experts from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.

At the expo, those taking part will be treated to a full-scale replica of SpaceShipOne – the pioneering vessel that was the first private piloted spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within a 14-day period in 2004, claiming the $10 million dollar Ansari X Prize purse.

Moon and Mars rovers and landers are to be featured. Mock-up hardware related to NASA's post-space shuttle Constellation program are to be on hand too.

Shuttle replacement

Sure to attract a cue of onlookers is the engineering model of the Dragon spacecraft, now under fabrication by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) of El Segundo, California.

The SpaceX Dragon design consists of a pressurized capsule and unpressurized trunk used for Earth-to-low-Earth-orbit transport of pressurized cargo, unpressurized cargo, and/or crew members. Dragon was initiated internally by SpaceX in 2005 and is to be utilized by the firm to fulfill its NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract for demonstration of cargo re-supply of the International Space Station.

"Dragon is the spacecraft that, together with the Falcon 9 rocket booster, will replace the space shuttle after 2010," explains Elon Musk, chief rocketeer and entrepreneurial leader of SpaceX.

The item on display at the expo is the structural and manufacturing test unit of Dragon, minus such equipment as the engines, parachute, and avionics. The first flight unit, which will have those components, is due to be completed in mid-2008, Musk told SPACE.com.

Racing stripes

Yet another expo exhibitor is the Rocket Racing League (RRL). As an aerospace sports and entertainment organization, the group combines the competition of racing with the excitement of rocketry.

The RRL was established by X Prize founder, Diamandis, and two-time Indianapolis 500 champion team partner, Granger Whitelaw. That match of talent is designed to advance the technology and increase public awareness of space travel.

When fully up and operating, the Rocket Racing League will feature rocket-powered aircraft flown by top pilots through a "three-dimensional track way" at venues around the world.

Road trip

Ready to hit the road and head for Holloman?

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day on October 27-28, Holloman Air Force Base will stage the Holloman Air & Space Expo. In partnership with the Wirefly X Prize Cup, the air and space festival is a free event comprising more than twenty different aircraft displays and space-related events.

The Air Force Base is situated in New Mexico's Tularosa Basin between the Sacramento and San Andreas mountain ranges. The base is about 10 miles west of Alamogordo, New Mexico, on route 70/82; 90 miles north of El Paso, Texas; 70 miles east of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

For detailed information and updates regarding the 2007 Wirefly X Prize Cup, go to the Internet web site: http://space.xprize.org/x-prize-cup/

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