Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A Prize No More

We libertarians love to complain. Government’s in the way over here, not enough free market over there; it’s mostly just a bundle of direct attacks and vauge answers. Mike told me the other day that he’d like to see real solutions put forth and if he was here, he’d do something about it.


But he’s not here and I am. Just as well, because this is about something that’s near and dear to my heart: the Ansari X Prize.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Ansari X Prize is a $10 million prize to the first private team that can send a manned ship into space, return him and repeat the process two weeks later.

Or should I say, was a prize.

Yesterday, SpaceShipOne completed the daunting task, winning the prize, and already we are reaping the benefits. Virgin Atlantic Airlines founder Richard Branson announced the creation of Virgin Galactic Airways which will offer suborbital flights at $200,000 a seat. The company already ordered five SpaceShipOnes to be built. Next year, the makers of 7-Up will offer one of these six-figure seats as part of a contest.

This is only the beginning. The Ansari X Prize will sponsor annual space races, pushing the technological envelope even farther. And a new contest has surfaced: $50 million for the first team to make a ship capable of going even farther into space (100 miles instead of 62) and dock with an orbital station. NASA will also be offering its own prizes.

This is an answer. Right here. Technology is humanity’s greatest friend. It raises standards, saves lives, connects people and makes dreams reality. At the cornerstone of creating a better world is creating a world that favors novelty, innovation and invention. There is no reason why we cannot stretch our arms a bit wider—prizes for the cure of cancer, for new energy sources, for improved anti-terrorism technologies. The list goes on forever.

(I’m updating a paper I wrote a few months ago about this precise subject. Hopefully, in a few weeks, I’ll publish it here on the blog. I’ll appreciate any input our readers could offer.)


Chris said...

What surprises me the most is that the government hasn't attempted to shut down these operations out of security concerns (or at the very least hasn't tried to regulate space travel; though mark my words, I imagine once space travel becomes commonplace there will be an FAA in space - or perhaps OSAA.)

Anyways, I can't wait to see the day when a private citizen lands on the moon. Then, once and for all we can determine whether or not the government ever made it there (as some conspirators might lead us to believe.)

Tim said...

I'm really happy that this worked out, and I know that you were following this with great interest, David. You'll have to show me your revised paper next time I'm in town (which should be, I think, sometimes after break).