The Big Think

September 28, 2004

Z-Prize

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 3:35 pm

via msnbc: Robert Bigelow, the millionaire behind Bigelow Aerospace and a plan to develop inflatable space modules for commercial use, is floating the idea of setting up a $50 million prize for the development of a new orbital space vehicle.
In this week’s issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Bigelow is quoted as saying he’d be willing to contribute $25 million to the prize pool. Other partners, perhaps including NASA, would have to come up with the rest of the money. “America’s Space Prize” would be patterned after the Ansari X Prize for suborbital spaceflight, a $10 million award that could well be won in the next week or so.

This is great news, and a good response to the few folks online who have denigrated ideas like the X-prize by saying that it’s not enough money to really make the struggle worth it. Granted, a 10 million dollar prize won’t make up for the money that it would cost to get a ship into space, but when you look at the fact that Virgin Galactic just paid 25 million dollars to license Rutan’s technology, it begins to make sense. Prizes like these prime the pump and generate interest, then the big money arrives in the form of technology licensing.

I’m all for an “America’s Space Prize”. Let’s put NASA out of business.

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