X Prize Cup Ready For October Liftoff

New MexicoGovernor Bill Richardson is to declare today that October 4-9 will be declaredas X Prize Cup Week.

Those arethe dates for festivities to be held in Southern New Mexico - a follow-on eventto last year's back-to-back suborbital runs of SpaceShipOne from the Mojave, California spaceport and securing the $10 million Ansari X Prize purse.

At the October X Prize Cup events there will be demonstration flights from atleast eight of X Prize Cup team competitors. Also to be previewed will be theTier-1 X Prize Rocket Racer, according to X Prize Cup spokeswoman, DianeMurphy. In addition, in association with this year's activities, there will bethe staging of the largest-ever student space event in the days following theBalloon Fiesta in the Northern New Mexico/Albuquerque area.

Next year,the X Prize Cup will establish regular races, resulting in the presenting ofthe X Prize Cup for Rocket Racing.

Entertaining events

Other events announced for the "Countdown to the X Prize Cup" include:

Statichardware displays of the X Prize team vehicles, flight simulations andopportunities to visit with astronauts, spacecraft designers, and X Prize teamleaders and pilots.

Demonstrationflights of reusable space vehicles by future X Prize Cup contenders at the Las Cruces Airport

EducationDay at the Alamogordo History Museum for New Mexico's next generation of engineers,pilots, astronauts, and space entrepreneurs with more than 2,000 studentsparticipating

Duringthe event, Zero Gravity Corporation's G-Force One will conduct weightlessflights.

Spaceport preparation

Last year,the state allocated $9 million to develop the infrastructure, launch andlanding facilities necessary to host and market the competition and relatedevents throughout the state, and to prepare the Southwest Regional Spaceport inUpham, near Las Cruces, to become the country's firstlicensed inland spaceport.

This year,the legislature created the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to build and operatethe Southwest Regional Spaceport. Governor Richardson has committed $1 milliondollars in capital outlay funds to support this growth in spaceportinfrastructure.

White Sands Missile Range will be the interim spaceport untilthe Southwest Regional Spaceport is opened in 2007 or 2008. They plan onhosting the 2006 Inaugural X Prize Cup pending proper licensing of thecompetition vehicles.

GovernorRichardson noted that this year's Countdown to X Prize Cup is a key step increating an event that opens the space frontier to all private citizens. Italso will bring new companies, provide new jobs, increase tourism statewide,and help brand New Mexico as the place to be to experience the future, he added.

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Leonard David
Space Insider Columnist

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for more than 50 years. Currently writing as Space.com's Space Insider Columnist among his other projects, Leonard has authored numerous books on space exploration, Mars missions and more, with his latest being "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published in 2019 by National Geographic. He also wrote "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet" released in 2016 by National Geographic. Leonard  has served as a correspondent for SpaceNews, Scientific American and Aerospace America for the AIAA. He has received many awards, including the first Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History in 2015 at the AAS Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium. You can find out Leonard's latest project at his website and on Twitter.