WASHINGTON, D.C.- By a voice vote, the House of Representatives last night approved a resolution introduced by Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) congratulating Mojave Aerospace Ventures for winning the X Prize and commending the X Prize Foundation for spurring this achievement.
Modeled on the 20th century aviation prizes like the Orteig Prize, which was awarded to Charles Lindbergh for the fist nonstop transatlantic flight, the X Prize was established in 1996 to promote the emerging commercial space transportation industry and inspire privately funded human space flight.
Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a joint endeavor of aerospace engineer Burt Rutan and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, successfully captured the X Prize by completing two flights reaching at least 100 kilometers above the earth and carrying the weight of three people in less than two weeks. SpaceShipOne streaked to an altitude of 337, 569 feet (64 miles) on September 29th and climbed to 377,591 feet (71 1/2 miles) October 5th, capturing the privately funded Ansari X Prize of $10 million dollars which was being sought by 26 teams from the United States, Argentina, Canada, Israel, Romania, Russia and Great Britain.
Rohrabacher said, "There are two kinds of frontiers. There are physical frontiers: uncharted land, unseen depths of oceans, unexplored space. And then there are frontiers of imagination: frontiers that require us to think in a new way, to have vision beyond what others see, to question assumptions about what is technologically possible. Today, we honor Mojave Aerospace Ventures' SpaceShipOne, the winner of the X Prize, for traversing this second kind of frontier."
"The successful effort of Mojave Aerospace Ventures pushes back another barrier to human exploration. No longer is human space access the domain of government," said Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), a lead cosponsor of Rohrabacher's resolution. "Humanity may look back on the success of SpaceShipOne as the key event in the emergence of a major new industry: space tourism."
Cosponsor Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL),who represents the John F. Kennedy Space Center, said, "The chase for the X-Prize recreated the sense of adventure and excitement found during America's early space era. Kudos goes to Burt Rutan's team at Mojave Aerospace Ventures and the X-Prize Foundation for reaffirming this American spirit for another generation."
Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-MN), who also cosponsored the resolution said, "I commend Mojave Aerospace Ventures, Burt Rutan, Paul Allen, Mike Melville, Brian Binney and everyone associated with the Ansari X Prize for this tremendous accomplishment. I am hopeful this private space flight venture will spur future innovation and lead the way for greater private space travel. It is good to see that American ingenuity and desire for exploration are alive and well."
"The U.S. has led the world in space exploration and science. Continuing in this spirit, Burt Rutan and the SpaceShipOne team are the new pioneers on the frontier of commercial space. The Ansari X Prize has inspired this milestone achievement because it draws upon the entrepreneurial spirit which is the fabric of our American character", said Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA).