The race for space commercialization has officially begun with the successful launch of the world's largest proton rocket emblazoned with a Pizza Hut logo on the fuselage. The 200-foot tall proton rocket was launched at 12:56 a.m. EDT from Kazakhstan and is headed for the International Space Station carrying a critical component, the Service Module, that will make permanent living in space a reality.
``Pizza Hut is recognized as the pioneer and innovation leader in the pizza business,'' said Mike Rawlings, president and chief concept officer, Pizza Hut, Inc. ``Our sponsorship of this critical mission tells consumers around the world that we're always looking to take Pizza Hut innovation to new heights.''
Pizza Hut announced the innovative space sponsorship in September 1999 as part of its new logo launch and to symbolize the company's dramatic turnaround and re-imaging campaign, which includes a $500 million investment to contemporize and upgrade Pizza Hut restaurants around the globe.
According to Rawlings, Pizza Hut believes making great pizza is ``rocket science'' because it requires constant innovation, futuristic thinking and a dedicated team effort to develop the world's greatest variety of pizza. In fact, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of ``food maniacs'' employed by Pizza Hut, there is a team of experts who focus on developing new ways to satisfy customers with innovative crust types, abundantly topped pizzas and diverse pizza styles.
Pizza Hut® provides its pizzas to approximately 28 million customers around the globe each week. The company's extensive line of innovative products include: Pan Pizza (the world's leading pizza); The Big New Yorker Pizza; Stuffed Crust Pizza; Thin 'N Crispy® pizza and Hand-Tossed Style Pizza. Pizza Hut is the pizza category leader with a 21 percent marketshare.
``Pizza Hut is a pioneer in space commercialization,'' said Rick Hieb, U.S. Astronaut and key member of an industry team working with NASA to explore space commercialization. ``This is the beginning of a whole new era and we hope that other corporations will follow. Congress has mandated that NASA work aggressively to support efforts to commercialize space and the International Space Station,'' he added.
Pizza Hut also is encouraging nearly 20 million youngsters to become interested in science, space exploration and the International Space Station through their national reading incentive program called BOOK IT!®. The fall curriculum materials will feature a special theme called ``Space: From Mythology to Technology'' and be incorporated in more than 800,000 classrooms across the U.S.
``NASA is delighted that the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program will focus on space exploration and the International Space Station,'' said Dr. Frank Owens, NASA's Director of Education. ``NASA is proud to support the BOOK IT! educational program because the more young people read about space, the more they will be inspired to pursue careers in scientific and technological fields,'' he added.
International Space Station
More than 500 million viewers from around the globe are estimated to have watched the rocket launch. The mission is critical to the overall operation and success of the International Space Station, a 16-nation initiative involving the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Once assembled, the ISS will provide 46,000 cubic feet of pressurized living and working space for engineers and scientists.
Pizza Hut, a division of Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc. is the world's largest pizza restaurant company, with more than 7,100 restaurants and delivery units in the United States and more than 4,000 units in 90 countries. The company is the recognized leader of the $25 billion pizza category. Those hungry for more information can go to the Pizza Hut home page at www.pizzahut.com .