27 September 1997
News - Other (None)
X Prize Gala Full of Surprises
DC-X, Clementine Project Leaders Win Awards, Author Tom Clancy donates$100,000 to Foundation
by Sam Coniglio
The second annual X Prize Gala showed that more people are taking space tourism seriously. From the extensive media coverage to the famous new sponsors, Peter Diamandis' latest creation is gathering momentum with the public.

During the afternoon press conference, there was coverage from the local affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX television networks. Discovery news channel was there, as well as Ad Astra, the magazine of the National Space Society. CNN was there preparing a special report on the X Prize, which will be aired in two weeks.

Dr. Peter Diamandas, co-founder and Chairman of the X Prize, explained his ambition: "Our goal is to open space to the public...Let's predict the future by making the future." The organization has raised $1.25 million from local support by the New Spirit of St. Louis Foundation. The Prize Foundation headquarters is in St. Louis, Missouri. It was here in the 1920's where the Orteig Aviation Prize inspired Charles Lindberg to build the airplane that would make the famous New York to Paris flight. Using that history as a backdrop, Dr. Diamandas hopes to inspire the city to once again sponsor pioneers, this time for space travel. "Space," says Dr. Diamandas, "has gotten boring. The public can't relate to it." He plans to make it exciting again.

At the gala, representatives of most of the sixteen prize contenders were introduced. They included:

Posters and exhibits from all the contenders were on display, and the
gala-goers asked many questions about the vehicles.

Two people were chosen for the X Prize Foundation's "New Spirit of St.
Louis Award" for outstanding contributions toward opening the space
frontier and bringing about commercial space flight. Colonel Simon P.
Worden of the United States Air Force is considered the architect of the "better, faster, cheaper" approach which was adopted by the US space program. He helped create and run the DC-X Delta Clipper program. Dr. Stewart Nozette is a senior scientist for spacecraft design at Hughes Space and Communication Company. He developed and ran the Clementine lunar probe project which mapped the moon, and may have discovered water there.

Dr. Diamandas gave a status report of the past year's activities. The X Prize established its home in St. Louis. It has begun gathering competitors. In a few days, it will begin a fund-raising campaign with help from Bob Weiss of Paramount Pictures.

Tom Clancy wowed the crowd. Famous for his techno-thriller novels such as "Hunt for the Red October," the author was very serious about his
commitment for commercial space. First, he donated $100,000 to the X
Prize. Then, he amazed everyone with a diatribe about "it is man's destiny to be in space." He renamed NASA "Not A Serious Agency," and wants them to stop supressing commercial space development. He used the analogy of the computer revolution, where it began with "two guys in a garage." For the space revolution, it will require a bigger garage.

The second annual X Prize gala had an impressive arrary of people in
attendance, from local civic leaders, astronauts and cosmonauts, potential investors, and people with a dream. Real money was being spent to promote space commercialization. For the first time, the American media was taking space tourism seriously. The X Prize's latest sponsor, author Tom Clancy, is very serious about commercial space and space tourism. Hopefully, his example will inspire others.
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Sam Coniglio 27 September 1997
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