This year we begin to earn our spacewings

Burt Rutan looks like he is about to accomplish his dream without the government preventing him yet he might be beaten to the prize by one of the other teams around the world. These are acknowledged at the end of this article from Space.com via The United States of Earth.

Teams from around the world are vying for the X Prize. It will be awarded to the first team that privately finances, builds and launches a spaceship able to carry three people to 62.5 miles (100 kilometers) altitude, return safely to Earth, and then repeat the feat within two weeks.

The X Prize Foundation of St. Louis, Missouri, currently has funding to award a prize if a successful flight occurs by the end of 2004.

Work is also progressing on other X Prize contenders, such as Canada's da Vinci Project.

"We will be launching a manned flight sometime this summer. An announcement is coming up in the near future on the launch date," said Brian Feeney, team leader of the da Vinci Space Project, based in Scarborough (Toronto), Ontario. "Sorry, but can't be more specific at the moment," he told SPACE.com.

Either way, it looks like this is going to be a fascinating year for private spacetech.

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