Why the X Prize is Important

They did it. Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne made a successful first Ansari X Prize rocketing to 100 miles and the limit of space before returning safely to earth.

Like the 1919 Orteig prize which spurred Lindbergh to attempt the first transatlantic crossing in the Spirit of St.Louis, the Ansari X Prize has managed to do what superpowers have failed to do: open space.

I think the X Prize competition is important, but not for the reason most people think I do (my father being an aeronautical technician, my brother an airplane mechanic, and my mom a trekkie). I honestly think the benefits to science and industry will be minuscule to the changes I hope it creates in our ideas about ourselves.

The first is that individuals coming together can accomplish incredible, amazing things and that not even space is beyond our grasp. You too can perform miracles.

Secondly, looking back from space, seeing our little blue-green planet in an ocean of infinite black; the realization that we are one earth, all one people and that the things that divide us are nothing compared to that which makes us all equal.

We are all explorers. It is our nature. And any initiative, public or private, which encourages us to discover our potential as humanity and inspire individuals to do the same personally is a great thing.

I was just in DC at the National Air and Space Museum. The Wright flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis and Chuck Yeager’s sound barrier breaking X-1 are there. Awe-inspiring accomplishments we take for granted today even as we are jetting over continents and across oceans. And alongside these, the pride of the American space program. I’m hoping when I go back to the museum again, SpaceShipOne is there as well.