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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

First Entrant for $50 Million Dollar Orbital Prize

There is now an entrant for Bigelow's America's Space Prize $50 million dollar orbital competition:

Solar Skiff is a company, a craft, and a concept. It is a revolutionary idea to begin the earnest exploration of the Solar System with real spaceships manned by explorers and colonists from the planet Earth. The company, Solar Skiff, will help make this happen by manufacturing the spaceships to carry out the exploration - and eventual colonization - of the Solar System.

The immediate aim is to develop and fly a reliable, reusable single-stage-to-orbit spaceship. If this can be demonstrated by January 10, 2010, and no one else does it first, the company will win the $50 million America’s Space Prize being offered by Las Vegas businessman Robert Bigelow. The long-term goal is to develop a versatile spaceship and associated mission architecture enabling routine manned spaceflight throughout the Solar System.

Solar Skiff itself is a new type of reusable space vessel with an elliptical cross-section, pointed bow, and lifting body shape, utilizing free and abundant resources and solar energy in space to manufacture its own high-energy rocket propellants. The source of propellant used by Solar Skiff is ordinary space-storable water or ice, readily available throughout the Solar System. Simple electrolysis using focused energy from the Sun splits the water into liquid hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen for upcoming velocity increments.

It's hard for me to tell how legit this entrant is; does anyone know if they might have the ability to actually compete in the America's Space Prize competition?

Comments:
I am huge fan of Space Exploration, and love to hear new ideas for future space travel. This (Solar Skiff) idea is waaaay out there. I am always skeptical of a technology where they have to convince you that it will work by listing physics equations. I have a degree in Physics, so I can follow the math that he's showing, but I also work as an Engineer, so I know how far removed those theories are from the way things really work.

Its possible that some aspect of this technology could be applied in the distant future to spacecrafts used for deep space expoloration, but there is no way this guy is going to get a ship off the ground in the next 3 years.

So, in my opinion, he really has no chance at the American Space Prize. But I do hope he continues his research. And hope that some day he replaces the pages of equations on his web page with a simple video of a prototype in action.
 
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