New $50 Million Prize for Private Orbiting Spacecraft

While a team of aerospace engineers takes aim this week on the $10 million Ansari X Prize competition for privately developed suborbital spaceflight, a Nevada millionaire is planning an even loftier contest. Robert Bigelow, chief of Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace, is apparently setting higher goals for private spaceflight endeavors with America’s Space Prize, a $50 million race to build an orbital vehicle capable of carrying up to seven astronauts to an orbital outpost by the end of the decade, according to Aviation Week and Space Technology. Bigelow told Aviation Week that not only would Space Prize winners secure the $50 million purse, half of which he’s putting up himself, but also snag options to service inflatable space habitats under development by Bigelow Aerospace.