Encyclopedia Astronautica
America's Space Prize


Following the success of the Ansari X-Prize in motivating flight of the first commercial suborbital manned spacecraft, Robert Bigelow announced the 'America's Space Prize' - $ 50 million - to the first team to fly an orbital manned spacecraft that completes two missions safely and successfully by January 10, 2010.

The spacecraft had to:

  • Fly on both attempts in an orbit with a perigee sufficient for two full orbits and an apogee over 400 km (implying a perigee of at least 100 km)
  • Carry a total of five crew and passengers. For the first attempt, flight of just test pilots and equivalent mass for passengers was allowed, but a minimum of five persons had to be aboard the second flight.
In addition, the spacecraft had to meet the following requirements:
  • Be able to dock with a Bigelow Aerospace inflatable space station
  • Be capable of remaining docked to that station at least six months
  • No more than twenty percent of the spacecraft mass may be composed of expendable hardware
In addition, the winning team had to:
  • Be American in location and ownership
  • Not use government funding to develop the spacecraft (except use of government test facilities was allowed)
  • Be a private enterprise, without any government ownership

Even prior to Bigelow's announcment, Burt Rutan hinted that an orbital follow-on to his SpaceShipOne was being designed. Although no contestants were announced immediately, the X-Prize contestants listed were American and their designs had the technical potential for upgrade to an orbital spacecraft.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Spacecraft
  • LB-X American manned spaceplane. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital spaceplane concept of Kelly Space & Technology, San Bernardino, California. More...
  • Black Armadillo American manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of Armadillo Aerospace, Mesquite, Texas. Reached the stage of engineering tests by 2003. More...
  • Mayflower American manned spaceplane. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital seaplane-spacecraft of Advent Launch Services of Houston, Texas. Reached the stage of engineering tests by 2003. More...
  • Eagle X-Prize American manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of Vanguard Spacecraft of Bridgewater, Massachusetts. More...
  • Crusader X American manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of Micro-Space, Inc of Denver, Colorado. More...
  • Lucky Seven American manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of Acceleration Engineering, Bath, Michigan. More...
  • Liberator American manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of HARC, Huntsville, Alabama. More...
  • Michelle-B American manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of TGV Rockets, Bethesda, Maryland. As of 2005, flight testing of the Michelle-B was expected to begin no earlier than 2007. More...
  • Pioneer XP American manned spaceplane. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital spaceplane concept of Pioneer Rocketplane, Solvang, California. No backing forthcoming. More...
  • Rubicon American manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of STC. More...
  • Solaris X American manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of Interorbital Systems of Mojave, California. More...
  • The Space Tourist American manned spaceplane. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital flying saucer concept of Discraft Corporation of Portland, Oregon. More...
  • The Spirit of Liberty American manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of American Astronautics Corporation, Oceanside, California. More...
  • Tier Two American manned spacecraft. Study 2005. After the successful win of the X-Prize for the first suborbital flight by Burt Rutan's Tier One / SpaceShipOne, the designer hinted a follow-on orbital spacecraft was being designed. More...

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