Los Angeles, CA, May 19, 2004 The Space Frontier Foundation congratulated the Civilian Space eXploration Team (CSXT) for flying the first amateur rocket above 100 kilometers, the official boundary of space. Launched Tuesday from Nevada's Black Rock Desert, the rocket, dubbed "GoFast," in honor of one of the team's commercial sponsors, set a new record and challenged old ideas about who can fly to the frontier.
Civilian Space eXploration Team has sent an amateur rocket to 100 kilometers over the Nevada desert. Photo courtesy Eric Knight and CSXT.
"This is history in the making," stated Foundation Founder Rick Tumlinson. "We congratulate Ky Michaelson and his team for punching a hole not only into space, but into the concept that space is the exclusive domain of governments and a few contractors. Given the right leadership, funding, tools, and a lot of hard work, private citizens can do anything in space that governments can, only cheaper, better and faster."
The launch of the GoFast takes place at a time when several civilian teams around the world are working to put payloads and people in space cheaply using private funds. While some teams are competing for prizes, others, such as the CSXT project, are motivated by their passion for space and potential markets for their services when they succeed. The entire movement contrasts with national space programs such as NASA, which are faltering badly after having wasted billions of dollars with little to show for the effort.
"Whether it is for fun, profit or to win a prize, the door to space is opening," said Tumlinson. "This breakthrough and those we are about to witness from groups like the X-Prize teams may not look like much when compared to multi-billion dollar efforts like the space shuttle, but they are at least flying, and are doing so without wasting taxpayer's money."
The Foundation has long supported the idea of opening space to the people, and had at one time offered a limited duration $250k prize called the Cheap Access to Space Prize for the first team to place 2 kilograms at an altitude of 200 km, which ended in 2001.
The Foundation will be discussing this and other exciting breakthroughs in the alternative space movement at its annual conference aboard the Queen Mary II in Long Beach, California, October 8-10, 2004.