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Photos: Chasing the X Prize Cup

Three competitions with $2.5 million in prizes for future space technology highlight this year's Wirefly X Prize Cup.
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Rockets

Space travel enthusiasts of all ages will converge at the Las Cruces International Airport, New Mexico October 20-21 for the Wirefly X Prize Cup 2006. The program promises a sneak peek at space travel and technology in the not-to-distant future. The twist is that the private sector provides most of the energy for the show.

Rockets in all shapes and sizes will be on display. Some home-made rockets will be launched and others will fire their engines.

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X-Prize challenges

The highlight of the two day expo will be three X Prize competions with over $2.5 million in prizes.

Space elevators may lift a little higher this year at the Spaceward Foundation's Space Elevator Games. Over 20 teams have entered a competition to use light to power a "climber" along a tether, this year up about 50 meters. Each "climber" will carry a payload and must travel at a minimum speed of 1 meter per second. The winner moves the highest in the shortest amount of time and receives a $200,000 prize.

Another $200,000 prize may awarded for the team that can make the strongest tether. NASA requires a 50 percent improvement in breaking force from last year. Scientists forsee incredibly long tethers that will guide "space elevators" along great distances. The moon?

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Qualifications

Teams had to successfully complete a run in order to qualify for the finals. Here, the University of Michigan team's platform nears the top of the tether.

One day before the finals, six teams had qualified for the finals including one from Germany, two from Canada and a high school team from the United States.

One team from Spain was unable to participate after their "climber" was lost during shipping according to reports from the competition.

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Turbocrawler

The German Turbocrawler team's platform inches higher.

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Cell repair

The Space Miners had to repair their voltaic cell array after four cells burned out during the qualifications.

For more information about the Space Elevator competition check out blogs from Space Elevator 2010.

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Lunar Lander Challenge

For the Vertical Rocket Challenge, vehicles are required lift off to 150 feet above the ground and hover for 90 seconds before landing on a smooth surface 100 meters away. Three teams will compete for the $500,000 prize.

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Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

For the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, teams are required to build vehicles that will lift off 150 feet above the ground, hover for 180 seconds and land 100 meters away in an area that is similar to the rocky lunar surface. Three teams are competing for a $1,500,000 prize. Teams must beat the challenge to win the prize.

Left is a how NASA envisions the next lunar lander.

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Rocket plane

The Rocket Racing League, advertised as NASCAR in the sky, will show off the Mark-1 racer. Organizers are building planes to race on a 3D racetrack in the sky--complete with television and ads galore. Shown is a prototype of a Rocket Racer.

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Rocket Truck

Tom Pickens wanted a little extra power on his 2003 Chevy SS pickup so he fitted it with a nitrous-oxide powered hyrbrid rocket engine that produces 2,750 pounds of thrust. It will give a 3/4G "kick."

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Google Earth

Space lovers will have many extras available for their Google Earths. Included are views of the Hubble telescope, Martian rovers and Apollo 11. Here is the X Prize site in New Mexico.

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EZ rocket

The EX rocket will be flying overhead.

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Cameras

Huge cameras will follow the action off the ground.

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