Press Release Archives > X Prize Narrows the Search...

October 27, 2003

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ST. LOUIS, MO (MONDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2003) - The X PRIZE Foundation is getting ready to choose the semifinalists in the bid to host the first annual X PRIZE Cup. Four US States, California, Florida, Oklahoma and New Mexico will compete for the venue and the chance to host the first air show for the private space community. Earlier this year, the X PRIZE Foundation released a Request for Proposal (RFP) to all Spaceports in order to select a strategic partner and hosting venue for the X PRIZE CUP.

The X PRIZE Foundation plans to leverage the competitive and sponsorship aspects of the $10 million X PRIZE into an annual, publicly attended event known as the X PRIZE CUP. This two-week long event will take place at the same time and same location each year and will allow all X PRIZE-Class vehicles to compete for cash prizes in a series races resulting in a single winner. While only one team will win the $10 Million X PRIZE, many teams are expected to create reusable launch vehicles in the private sector.

The four prospective states who hope to host the events are eagerly awaiting the upcoming decision. "New Mexico is determined to be the home of country's first licensed inland spaceport and the X PRIZE Cup. We feel the mission of the X PRIZE mirrors the pioneering spirit of the state of New Mexico. Such an event would bring substantial investment, job growth and tourism to the state, while simultaneously enhancing New Mexico's reputation as an international aerospace pioneer." said Peter Mitchell, Executive Director of the New Mexico Office for Space Commercialization.

The City of Lompoc, in partnership with Vandenberg Air Force Base, is the sole contender from California in the competition. Kathleen Griffith, the Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Lompoc explains "Lompoc is the ideal location to host the event because of the rich history and mission at Vandenberg and the diverse space-related activities and artifacts in the area. Vandenberg Air Force Base is the nation's premier polar launch site, with 18,000 launches and zero casualties over 40 years. Lompoc and surrounding communities offer critical support infrastructure for the event and other tourism attractions, such as wine country, Spanish missions, and public art."

Executive Director of the Florida Space Authority and Former Astronaut, STS-72 Endeavor and STS-87 Columbia, CAPT Winston Scott is representing Florida and adds, "From our shores we have launched astronauts into space and we are now ready to serve the next generation of space traveler -- the common person. The X PRIZE Cup will spark a space tourism market and result in economically viable flights. The Cup will be a pathfinder for commercial practices for new vehicles, procedures and licensing. Florida is a natural as the home for the X PRIZE Cup - we are the world's premier center of space and tourism."

The main objective of the X PRIZE Cup is to motivate X PRIZE teams to continue to innovate, diversify, and improve their vehicles. "Expanding the capabilities of these vehicles is paramount to the viability and economic prosperity of private spaceflight," said Diamandis, "Just as the National Air Races were called 'The Laboratory of the Air,' the X PRIZE CUP will serve as the driving force for public spaceflight development."

"For those teams that are building hardware, but don't win the $10M purse, this is a chance for them to continue their efforts. The X PRIZE CUP is modeled after NASCAR, America's Cup and the Olympics and should assist teams in attracting continued funding and sponsorships," said X PRIZE Chairman Peter H. Diamandis.

To win the X PRIZE, a privately funded team must build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to space (an altitude of 100 km) on two flights within two weeks. "The $10 million X PRIZE is the first stepping-stone in the direction of public spaceflight and the X PRIZE CUP is the next," said X PRIZE Chairman Peter H. Diamandis. "The X PRIZE Cup has the potential to become one of the largest space-related events. We expect to draw hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to a single Spaceport. They will attend to watch a dozen launches per day and cheer for their favorite team."

"We have had a tremendous amount of excitement from Spaceports who recognize the CUP as a mechanism which could bring them global attention, significant revenue, and help them attract the future suborbital tourism industry," continued Diamandis. "We also have had discussions with television and cable networks who are excited about providing coverage. We believe we have the makings of an entertainment and technology success."

Discussing the historical analogues for the X PRIZE, Gregg Maryniak said, "There is strong historical precedent for public support for this type of an event. From 1929 to 1949, the National Air Races attracted hundreds of thousands of people per year to the host site. For one week each year, all eyes were on "the Nationals" and the winning pilots became international legends. Even during the Depression years, these exhibitions generated large revenues and fostered cutting-edge experimentation that would later help American aviation succeed during World War II."

"Events such as and the Reno Air Races EAA's Oshkosh Air Show routinely bring $50 million to $80 million of economic value to the hosting community," continued Maryniak. "The CUP is a very strong concrete benefit for a Spaceport to deliver to their region."

Commenting about the type of funding available to teams seeking to compete in the X PRIZE CUP, Maryniak said, "Today's annual $20 Billion sponsorship market is monopolized by automobile racing and team sports. Formula 1 teams typically attract $100M in sponsorship funding and NASCAR teams attract $15M - $20M per year. X PRIZE Teams could make great strides with this level of funding. By establishing the CUP as a high-profile annual event, we hope to make this type of funding available to the entrepreneurial rocket teams."

An important segment of the X PRIZE Cup, in addition to the actual spaceflights, is the Public Spaceflight Exhibition. This Exhibition seeks to keep spectators fully engaged for a longer duration of time and to give them a hands-on experience that personally involves them in the public spaceflight industry. The Exhibition will include hands-on simulators and training, educational programming, vendors, exhibitors, air shows and technical briefings.

The X PRIZE Foundation is a not-for-profit educational organization, with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. Supported by private donations and the St. Louis Community, the foundation's mission is to provide incentives in the private sector to make space travel frequent and affordable for the general public. A winner of the X PRIZE Competition is expected within the next 7-10 months.

To find out how you can join the efforts of the X PRIZE, or involved your neighborhood school or community center with X PRIZE educational programs, log onto or contact the office at 314-533-2002.

Electronic images of all X PRIZE entries are available on the X PRIZE website ( or by contacting Ian Murphy at 202-498-7267 or via email: Video B-ROLL is available in beta format upon request. Interviews with Dr. Diamandis are possible by contacting Ian Murphy at 202-498-7267.

Questions relating to an individual states interest in hosting the X PRIZE Cup please contact that states representative listed below:
Kate Griffith
(805) 875-8232
Tracy Hegler
(321)730-5301 x 1132
Melissa Smith
(405) 602-3877
New Mexico
Peter Mitchell
(505) 827-0335

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