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Get ready to study and live rocket science

Published by Cathleen Manville on Tue Aug 24, 2004 8:15 pm
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chabot imageAn Article From ContraCostaTimes.com:

IN THE SPIRIT of Charles Lindbergh’s historic transatlantic flight in 1927 in order to win the $25,000 Orteig Prize, teams are now competing to become the first private astronauts to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

Sponsored by the X Prize Foundation, the competition aims to “usher in a Golden Age of space flight” and to promote the development of the next generation of space vehicles and space tourism.

To celebrate this quest, Chabot has just opened its newest exhibit, “A New Space Race: Ansari X Prize,” located in the Tien MegaDome Theater lobby. You can check out the latest in rocket science, learn about the talented teams competing for the prize and their engineering strategies, and view short video clips from the competitors. You can also cast your vote on how much you would pay to travel into suborbital space, try launching a rocket yourself and see the X Prize trophy.

Fewer than 450 astronauts and only a handful of piloted space vehicles have flown in space during the past 42 years. In the past few months 27 X Prize teams from seven nations have been building and testing their private spaceships.

To win the prize, teams must build a safe and reusable space vehicle able to carry one pilot and the weight equivalent of two passengers for 62 miles into suborbital space. The vehicle must be privately financed and safely flown twice within a two-week period. The first registered team to complete the feat will win the $10 million prize and a 5-foot trophy.

Burt Rutan of the U.S. has announced that he will fly his entry, Space Ship One, on Sept. 29 and Oct. 4 at the Mojave Airport Civilian Flight Test Center in Southern California.

Close on his heels is the DaVinci team from Canada, who will launch their vehicle in Toronto on Oct. 2. Space Ship One is a two-stage rocket design launched from the ground, while the DaVinci teams’ Wild Fire rocket will be carried by a reusable helium balloon and will be launched from 80,000 feet.

“We need affordable space travel to inspire our youth, to let them know they can experience their dreams,” Rutan said. His team’s philosophy is to develop the first non-governmental manned space flight and to demonstrate that it is feasible and affordable.

His hope is that within 10 years, for the cost of a luxury cruise, people can experience a rocket flight “into the black silence above the Earth’s atmosphere, enjoy a few minutes of weightless excitement, then feel the thunderous deceleration of the aerodynamic drag on entry.” It sounds like the ultimate roller coaster ride!

How much would you pay for such a trip? Come to Chabot to cast your vote.

For more information, visit www.xprize.com. Launch tickets are available from some X Prize hopefuls starting at $35.

Okay, for those of you who don’t know, the Chabot Space and Science Center of Oakland, California is a hands-on museum with different buildings covering a total of about 13 acres. The following exhibit description can be found on Chabot’s Site:

“A New Space Race: Ansari X Prize

Check out the latest rocket science and learn about the talented teams competing for a ten million dollar prize in the international X Prize competition. Experience the excitement of rocket flight and engine tests by viewing short video clips from X Prize competitors. Learn about the engineering strategies used by each team. Place your vote on how much you would pay to travel into suborbital space, and try launching a rocket yourself. ”

If anyone gets the chance to visit this exhibit, please be sure to take pictures and send them to us as well as your opinions on how the experience was. You can email the pictures to Cathleen HERE and put ‘Chabot Exhibit’ in the subject line.

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