H. Res. 820 Congratulating Mojave Aerospace Venture for Winning the Ansari X Prize

Status Report From: U.S. House of Representatives
Posted: Friday, October 8, 2004


   Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 820) to congratulate Mojave Aerospace Ventures for winning the privately funded $10,000,000 Ansari X Prize and commend the X Prize Foundation for spurring this achievement, as amended.

   The Clerk read as follows:

   H. Res. 820

   Whereas the Ansari X Prize competition was created to promote the emerging commercial space transportation industry and inspire a new generation of explorers by accelerating the development of low-cost space launch vehicles for space exploration, tourism, science, and commerce;

   Whereas the X Prize Foundation, headed by space entrepreneur Dr. Peter Diamandis, offered a $10,000,000 prize to the first contestant to privately finance, develop, and launch a spaceship capable of carrying 3 people to 100 kilometers (62.5 miles) above the Earth, returning safely to Earth, and repeating the launch with the same ship within 2 weeks;

   Whereas the Ansari X Prize inspired 26 teams from 7 nations to invest their private funds and personal toil in pursuit of the dream of private space flight;

   Whereas Mojave Aerospace Ventures, led by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan and software pioneer Paul Allen, designed and developed SpaceShipOne, the winning entry in the Ansari X Prize competition;

   Whereas on June 21, 2004, SpaceShipOne, piloted by Mike Melvill, accomplished the first privately funded suborbital flight into space in the skies above Mojave, California;

   Whereas on September 29, 2004, SpaceShipOne, once again piloted by Mike Melvill, successfully completed the first of 2 suborbital flights in pursuit of the Ansari X Prize competition, flying to an altitude of 337,600 feet (102.9 km); and

   Whereas on October 4, 2004, SpaceShipOne, piloted by Brian Binnie, successfully completed the second of 2 suborbital flights in pursuit of the Ansari X Prize less than one week later, flying to an altitude of 368,000 feet (112.2 km), and thereby winning the Ansari X Prize competition: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

    (1) congratulates Mojave Aerospace Ventures, led by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen, for winning the privately funded $10,000,000 Ansari X Prize and inspiring the next generation of space explorers to even greater heights;

    (2) commends the pilots of SpaceShipOne for their skill and bravery; and

    (3) commends the founders of, contributors to, and management of the X Prize Foundation for spurring this achievement.

   The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Lampson) each will control 20 minutes.

   The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher).


   Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on H. Res. 820.

   The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California?

   There was no objection.

   Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

   Mr. Speaker, there are two kind 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 a new way, to have a 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.

   Suborbital space is not a new destination. Brian Binnie and Mike Melvill, the pilots of SpaceShipOne, did not fly higher, farther or longer than the astronauts who came before them, yet Brian and Mike, together with SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan and sponsor Paul Allen, have nonetheless crossed a critical frontier. They have accepted and exceeded the X Prize Foundation's challenge, proving that commercial space transportation is viable and that space and its exploration and utilization will not be the sole arena of government, but is also open to the private sector and to private individuals and private companies.

   The achievement of Mojave Aerospace will no doubt spur more entrepreneurial space ventures and inspire other dreamers to become doers.

   Burt Rutan's design for SpaceShipOne has been said to echo that of the X-15, an experimental Cold War rocket plane like SpaceShipOne. It was launched in flight from a larger aircraft. It is not only Burt Rutan's elegant design, however, that reminds us of another time. The spirit of his team and the X Prize competition recalls the spirit of the early years of our Nation's space race. It recalls the Charles Lindbergh trans-Atlantic flight which was also the result of a prize that was offered for the first accomplishment. That accomplishment was, of course, the first nonstop trip from New York to Paris.

   It also reminds us of Chuck Yeager, and others like Chuck Yeager, who broke the records of the sound barrier and other records in flight. It reminds us of these other moments when these other barriers were broken and that new opportunities were created in the accomplishment.

   This spirit of exploration, this drive to push the limits of technology and endurance, is a signature of the American experience; that human flight into space, we now can say, is no longer the arena only of government and only the purview of companies that are directly financed by government, but now is open to private individuals and private companies and private enterprise and individual enterprise.

   The X Prize awakens us to this spirit with a new generation of explorers. It awakens the spirit in students who will study science and math and engineering, as well as those who have been inspired toward bold innovations in other fields. Like Melvill, Binnie and Rutan, and the Mojave Aerospace Ventures, their team, these new explorers, will inspire the dreamers and give them courage and determination to turn their dreams into reality.

   Today, we honor the winners of the X Prize for their victory and for completing the first privately funded, human, suborbital space flight. We also commend the X Prize Foundation and the 25 other teams who vied for the prize. We look forward to watching commercial space transportation to continue to develop, engaging new investors and engineers, scientists and pilots in the business of exploration.

   This X Prize concept of offering a reward for an achievement, a technological achievement, is not a time that is past. What we have seen, through this accomplishment by Mojave Aerospace, is that this may be a vehicle to achieve new goals in space, and we will be looking into this. Hopefully, it will encourage further achievements that will help the United States and all of humankind set new records and push the frontiers.

   Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

   Mr. LAMPSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I might consume.

   Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the resolution by the chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics congratulating the winners of the Ansari X Prize on their intrepid voyages to the edge of space.

   A century ago, as Orville Wright dropped down to the sand at Kitty Hawk after his 12-second flight into history, the impact of aviation on the world was only dimly seen. Yet, today, we take for granted that the other side of the world is only a mere few hours from our front door. Now, we honor the next Orville and Wilbur, Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie, pilots of SpaceShipOne's prize-winning flights.

   In the space of a week, they have shown us all a new opportunity. If you are not satisfied with reading about space, well, the day is not far off when you can go there yourself.

   SpaceShipOne did not get very far into space, but then, neither did Alan Shepard on his first Mercury flight. So let us not forget, though, that Alan Shepard later made it to the moon.

   The resolution before the House also honors Burt Rutan, the pioneering designer at the head of Mojave Aerospace Ventures. Some 40 airplanes share Rutan's distinctive designs, and if one visits the National Air and Space Museum here on the mall, they can see his Voyager, which flew around the world nonstop in 1986.

   That it was Rutan who broke the barrier of affordable access to space probably does not surprise many in the aviation fraternity, but as Tom Wolfe so memorably put it in The Right Stuff, ``No bucks, no Buck Rogers.''

   Without Paul Allen's willingness to commit real money, SpaceShipOne might still be little more than scribbles on a napkin in a filing cabinet. Sometimes we have to look beyond the business case.

   There is something about a contest that seems to inspire great deeds. We owe a great deal to Dr. Peter Diamandis, president of the Ansari X Prize Foundation. He set the goal that fired the imaginations of those eager to open space to the rest of us. The House is right to include him in our congratulations.

   So, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the gentleman from California in honoring the achievements of the Ansari X Prize winners and recommend that the House approve this resolution.

   Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

   Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. I have no other requests to speak, and I have just one last thought.

   I believe that the investor invested $26 million in this project. We have no doubt that, if this project was just a government-funded project, that it probably would have been in the hundreds of millions of dollars. We will be looking at this X Prize concept of encouraging the private sector to try to achieve specific goals that would be worthy of such prizes and would also be very, very helpful to our whole technological efforts of our country.

   So we will be looking at this as a vehicle in the future, and I am looking forward to working with the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Lampson) and people on both sides of the aisle, whose goal it is to make sure that America remains the leader in space. This is a great achievement today. We congratulate all those who are involved with SpaceShipOne.

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   Mr. THOMAS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 820, which commends Mojave Aerospace Ventures and their great success capturing the Ansari X Prize on Monday, October 4. I am proud to represent Burt Rutan and his team based in Mojave, California, and it has been a great pleasure to watch their success.

   The first private effort to enter space has succeeded. As part of a competition stimulating private enterprise in an area that formerly was totally government-controlled, the Ansari X Prize Foundation and the collaborators of Mojave Aerospace Ventures have proven that private organizations can achieve anything they put their minds to. The sky is no longer the limit.

   Although almost 80 years apart, the X Prize is similar to the reward that in part led Charles Lindbergh to fly across the Atlantic in 1927. That achievement sparked the initial age of commercial aviation, and this achievement truly begins the era of commercial space aviation.

   I congratulate Burt Rutan, pilots Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie, all the employees of Scaled Composites, and all those community volunteers who worked tirelessly to prepare for this event at the Mojave Spaceport. In recent days they have provided us with an exciting glimpse of the future, and I look forward to their next endeavors.

   Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, today, I wish to extend to Paul Allen and the entire SpaceShipOne team my heartfelt congratulations on their huge achievement. Since Orville and Wilbur Wright first took to the skies, mankind has consistently dreamed of loftier goals and continued to push the edge in manned flight, both commercially and through government endeavors. On October 4, the entire SpaceShipOne team expanded man's dream of commercial flight into space. While a noble achievement, this is but the first step in a long process towards the dream of many on Earth to fly to the reaches of outer space. Some day this dream will be a reality and it is because of the efforts and skills of people like those at Scaled Composites and the visionaries like Paul Allen that will make this dream a reality.

   Mr. SIMPSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate and commend Mr. Paul Allen, Mr. Burt Rutan and all the men and women of Mojave Aerospace Ventures on winning the Ansari X Prize competition.

   On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first sustained, controlled, powered flight of an airplane at Kitty Hawk, NC. Now, a little over a century later Mojave Aerospace Ventures has followed in the footsteps of the Wright Brothers by designing, building and successfully flying the world's first privately funded spacecraft.

   Mr. Speaker, the private support of Paul Allen, for the Mojave Aerospace Ventures was critical in reaching this historical milestone. This accomplishment exemplifies the ingenuity on which our Nation was founded and developed. Mr. Allen has shown that the entrepreneurial spirit which has made America great is alive and well and will continue towards even greater achievements in the future.

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   Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

   Mr. LAMPSON. Mr. Speaker, I have no other speakers, and I yield back the balance of my time.

   The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida). The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 820, as amended.

   The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor thereof) the rules were suspended and the resolution, as amended, was agreed to.

   A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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