All that’s left is the confirmation process: If Monday’s initial altitude measurement of about 114 km (368,000 ft) is confirmed, SpaceShipOne’s creators at Scaled Composites in Mojave will win the $10 million prize established in 1996 by Peter Diamandis to spur private space tourism. What now? With the X Prize now seemingly won, Diamandis and colleagues will set up annual X Prize Cup awards to begin in 2006 for various other commercial spaceflight achievements. “I think we’ve met our goals,” Diamandis said on the eve of the flight. “We’ve gotten the world to recognise that private spaceflight is possible. I think we’ll start to see a flood of investment capital and the birth of a real new industry where all of us will be the benefactors.”
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.