The X PRIZE Cup is an (approximately) annual two-day Air & Space Expo which was the result of a partnership between the X PRIZE Foundation and the State of New Mexico that began in 2004 when the Ansari X-Prize was held. This led to plans to build the world's first true rocket festival. Now entering its fourth year, X-PRIZE Cups have been held in 2004, 2006 and 2007 and one is planned for 2009.

Each X PRIZE Cup hosts different events and demonstrations, such as rocket powered bicycles, rocket jet packs; but particularly notable are the Lunar Lander Challenge and the Space Elevator Games.

The X PRIZE Cup has proved highly popular with the public, with an attendance of 85,000 visitors in 2007.


The X PRIZE was first proposed by Dr. Peter Diamandis in an address to the NSS International Space Development Conference in 1995. The notion of a competitive goal was adopted from the SpaceCub project, demonstration of a private vehicle capable of flying a pilot to the edge of space, defined as 100 km altitude. This goal was selected to help encourage the space industry in the private sector, which is why the entries were not allowed to have any government funding. It aimed to demonstrate that spaceflight can be affordable and accessible to corporations and civilians, opening the door to commercial spaceflight and space tourism. It is also hoped that competition will breed innovation, introducing new low-cost methods of reaching Earth orbit.

The X PRIZE was modeled after many prizes from the early 20th century that helped prod the development of air flight, including most notably the $25,000 Orteig Prize that spurred Charles Lindbergh to make his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. NASA is developing similar prize programs called Centennial Challenges to generate innovative solutions to space technology problems.

The X PRIZE Cup continues the mission to push private enterprise towards innovative solutions, by offering monetary rewards and organizational support to the community of aerospace professionals -- and by staging "Earth's great space exposition".

2004 Ansari X Prize

The original Ansari X PRIZE was a US$10,000,000 prize, offered by the X PRIZE Foundation, for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. It was modeled after early 20th-century aviation prizes, and aimed to spur development of low-cost spaceflight. The prize was won on October 4 2004, the 47th anniversary of the Sputnik 1 launch, by the Tier One project using the experimental spaceplane SpaceShipOne.

The success and popularity of this event lead to the following events which were called the X-PRIZE Cup.

2006 Wirefly X Prize Cup

Wirefly was named the official title sponsor of the competition in 2006, [citeweb|title=Wirefly.com Named Title Sponsor of X PRIZE Cup, Earth's Great Space Race|url=http://www.prweb.com/releases/wirefly/x-prize-cup/prweb447225.htm|publisher="PRWeb"|accessdate=2008-09-21] and the event for that year was held on October 20-21 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and represented an effort by the X PRIZE Foundation to continue encouraging innovation in the private sector. [citeweb|title=Announcing the Wirefly X Prize Cup|url=http://www.wirefly.net/articles/1006/wirefly-xprize-cup.htm|publisher="Wirefly"|accessdate=2008-09-21] The 2006 Wirefly X PRIZE Cup focused on rocketry and lunar landing technology, offered up $2.5 million in prizes to teams competing in several distinct competitions related to the general theme. The exposition also featured high-powered rocket launches and exhibits intended to boost public interest in aerospace technology. In December 2006, the Cup's organizers announced expansion plans based on the success of the October event. [citeweb|title=X Prize Cup looking to expand outside Cruces|url=http://www.lcsun-news.com/news/ci_4809024|publisher="Las Cruces Sun-News"|accessdate=2008-09-21]

With the success of the original X PRIZE competition, the open competitions for $2.5 million in monetary prizes were the highlight of the 2006 Wirefly X PRIZE Cup. The aerospace teams in Las Cruces fought for the top prize in three events -- the Lunar Lander Challenge, the Vertical Rocket Challenge, and the Space Elevator Games.

In addition to the featured competitions, the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup included a series of rocketry exhibitions and educational presentations. "Rocketman" Dan Schlund demonstrated his "Rocketbelt," a device which allows him to soar above the earth with a rocket strapped to his back. The Rocket Racing League debuted the Mark-1 X-Racer, a preview of next-generation motor sports. Other attractions included high-powered rocket launches, a student competition, a symposium on personal spaceflight, and an assortment of ground displays and simulators.

2007 X Prize Cup

The 2007 X PRIZE Cup, was held at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, NM, on October 27 & 28th. The 2007 X PRIZE Cup also marked the rebirth of the Teacher in Space Project. At the 2007 event, the Space Frontier Foundation and the United States Rocket Academy announced the rules and begin accepting applications for first Teacher in Space "pathfinder" competition.

The third annual event was held in New Mexico October 26th-28th, 2007 at The third annual X PRIZE Cup was held at Holloman Air Force Base. It had both aircraft as well as rockets at the event, and included the Lunar Lander Challenge. 85,000 people attended the event.

Lunar Lander Challenge Prize not claimed

The Armadillo Aerospace team successfully completed the first of two legs of the $350,000 prize Level 1 challenge on 27 Oct 2007 by completing a flight above 50 m altitude and moving horizontally to a second pad for landing after more than 90 seconds of flight time. The prize was not claimed in 2007 however as the rocket engine experienced a hard start on the second leg return flight, resulting in a cracked engine, excessive loss of fuel, and an inability to remain in the air for the full 90 seconds required. [citeweb|title=Lunar lander tips over on landing|author=David Shiga|url=http://www.newscientist.com/blog/space/2007/10/lunar-lander-tips-over-on-landing.html|publisher="New Scientist"|accessdate=2008-09-21] No other competitor was able to achieve even a successful first leg of the competition.

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (NG-LLC) is intended to accelerate the commercial development of a vehicle capable of launching from surface of the Moon to lunar orbit and back. The competition is part of NASA's Centennial Challenges program. Such a vehicle would have direct application to NASA's space exploration goals as well as the personal spaceflight industry. The prize may also help the industry build new vehicles and develop the operational capacity to operate quick turnaround vertical take-off, vertical landing vehicles.

To win, the team's rocket must take-off vertically, climb at least 50 meters above the pad, fly for a minimum amount of time and land on a target that is 100 meters from the takeoff point. The team can then refuel the rocket, which must then fly back to the original pad. There are two levels to the competition. In Level 1 the vehicle must be in the air on each leg for 90 seconds. A $350,000 prize is given to the first successful team, and $150,000 to the second. In Level 2 the vehicle must be in the air on each leg for 180 seconds to win the $1 million prize.

pace Elevator Games

In 2006, the Space Elevator Games took place at the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup. A space elevator is a theoretical system using a super-strong ribbon going from the surface of the Earth to a point beyond geosynchronous orbit. The ribbon is held in place by a counterweight in orbit. As the Earth rotates, the ribbon is held taut. Vehicles would climb the ribbon powered by a beam of energy projected from the surface of the Earth. Building a space elevator requires materials and techniques that do not currently exist. The Space Elevator Games are meant to stimulate the development of such materials and techniques.

The games are divided into two categories: the Power Beam Challenge and the Tether Challenge. In the Power Beam Challenge, each team designs and builds a climber (a machine capable of traveling up and down a tether ribbon). The climber must carry a payload. Power will be beamed from a transmitter to a receiver on the climber. Each climber must travel to a height of 50 meters traveling a minimum speed of 1 meter per second. The Tether Challenge is to help develop very strong tether material for use in various structural applications.

The 2007 Space Elevator Games were not held at the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup. Instead, they took place in Salt Lake City.


With the Ansari X PRIZE, the X PRIZE Foundation (based in Santa Monica, CA) established a philanthropic model in which offering a prize for achieving a specific goal stimulates entrepreneurial investment that produces a 10 times or greater return on the prize purse and at least 100 times in follow-on investment and social benefit.Fact|date=October 2007 The Foundation has developed into a non-profit prize institute that conceives, designs and manages public competitions for the benefit of humanity.

ee also

* Automotive X Prize
* NASA Centennial Challenges
* List of prizes
* Prizes named after people
* America's Space Prize
* Methuselah Mouse Prize, or M Prize (modelled after the Ansari X Prize)
* Space Ship OneRelated technical topics:
* Specific impulse
* Tsiolkovsky equation
* Delta V


External links

* [http://www.xprizecup.com X Prize Cup official site]
* [http://xprize.wirefly.com/ Wirefly's X Prize Cup blog]
* [http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/331/ X PRIZE founder talks about the prize and the future of space travel (MIT Video)]
* [http://www.fai.org:81/sporting_code/sc08.pdf FAI Rules for Astronautic Record Attempts]
* [http://earth.google.com/xprizecup2006/ Google Earth 3D modeling of Wirefly X Prize Cup events]
*A [http://youtube.com/watch?v=UbKgxxImrnM video presentation] focusing on the 2006 Wirefly X PRIZE Cup is available on YouTube.
*A [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPgJMVl-_3A Video of Rocketman] during one of his three flights

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • prize — n 1: property (as a ship) lawfully captured in time of war 2: the wartime capture of a ship and its cargo at sea Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • cup — [kup] n. [ME & OE cuppe < LL cuppa, altered < L cupa, tub < IE * keup , a hollow < base * keu , to bend, arch > COOMB, HUMP] 1. a small, open container for beverages, usually bowl shaped and with a handle 2. the bowl part of a… …   English World dictionary

  • cup — ► NOUN 1) a small bowl shaped container for drinking from. 2) a cup shaped trophy, usually with a stem and two handles, awarded as a prize in a sports contest. 3) a sports contest in which the winner is awarded a cup. 4) chiefly N. Amer. a… …   English terms dictionary

  • cup tie — cup ties also cup tie N COUNT In sports, especially soccer, a cup tie is a match between two teams who are taking part in a competition in which the prize is a cup. [BRIT] …   English dictionary

  • Prize Lady — is a top New Zealand thoroughbred racehorse. She is most noted for winning two Auckland Cups, in 2007 and 2008. She was the first horse to achieve this feat since Il Tempo in 1970 …   Wikipedia

  • cup — index prize Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • cup — cup1 [ kʌp ] noun *** ▸ 1 container for drink ▸ 2 metal container as prize ▸ 3 something small, round, & hollow ▸ 4 round part of bra ▸ 5 hole with flag in golf ▸ 6 mixed alcoholic drink ▸ 7 in sports ▸ + PHRASES 1. ) count a small round… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • cup — cup1 W1S1 [kʌp] n ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 1¦(for drinking)¦ 2¦(drink)¦ 3¦(amount of liquid/food)¦ 4¦(sport competition)¦ 5¦(round thing)¦ 6¦(golf)¦ 7¦(clothing)¦ 8¦(alcohol)¦ 9 not be your cup of tea 10 in your cups …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • cup — I UK [kʌp] / US noun Word forms cup : singular cup plural cups *** 1) [countable] a small round container for a drink, usually with a handle Henry took the coffee cups into the kitchen. She filled my cup with hot tea. cups and saucers: Where do… …   English dictionary

  • cup — /kʌp / (say kup) noun 1. a small, open container, especially of porcelain or metal, used mainly to drink from. 2. (often upper case) an ornamental cup or other article, especially of precious metal, offered as a prize for a contest: Melbourne… …   Australian English dictionary