SpaceShipOneís not the only one

Private space exploration doesn’t stop with Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne: While Scaled Composites got the first FAA license for a manned suborbital spacecraft, the company’s neighbor at Mojave Airport, XCOR Aerospace, received a similar license just a few weeks later for its own suborbital vehicle. Several other companies, including Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Rocketplane Ltd., TGV Rockets, Starchaser, and Cosmopolis 21, are continuing work on suborbital vehicles to serve space tourism and other markets. Another encouraging sign: NASA has also caught the prize bug. The agency this year unveiled Centennial Challenges, a prize program inspired by the Ansari X Prize and similar competitions. While the first prizes, scheduled to be unveiled in the next several months, will be modest, NASA plans to offer larger prizes, in the $10-50 million range, down the road for efforts like commercial lunar missions.