The X Prize: Not exactly rocket science, is it?

Actually that's exactly what it is...

Actually that's exactly what it is...

With a bit of luck and a following wind, tomorrow will see the first independent British rocket launch. "Nova" is the third prototype from Starchaser Industries Limited which aims to be carrying passengers into space by September 2003. The rocket is 11 metres tall and weighs 747 kilograms. It can accelerate to 500 miles an hour in under six seconds. It will be launched from Morecambe Bay, Cumbria. The launch is described as a "shakedown mission" to about 6,000 feet and will be unmanned. Starchaser is trying to win the X prize - set up in 1996 to encourage independent exploration of space. The X prize will be awarded to the first organisation which can carry three passengers at least 100km into space and back. The flight must be repeated within two weeks. Applicants must be independent and not government-funded. For more info see http://www.xprize.org