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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2004


HISTORIC FIRSTS CHALLENGE THE EDGE OF SPACE

NSS annual conference to bring together pioneering leaders during the 'Summer of Space'

WASHINGTON, DC - National Space Society Executive Director George Whitesides issued the following statement on two historic events. First, the news that Burt Rutan's recently-licensed vehicle SpaceShipOne, piloted by Mike Melvill, had reached an altitude of over 40 miles during its third powered flight on May 14, 2004. Second, the news that an amateur, unmanned rocket built by the Civilian Space eXploration Team had actually surpassed the edge of space on Monday, May 17, defined internationally as 100 kilometers or 62 miles high.

"Another amazing week in the Summer of Space! NSS members congratulate Ky Michaelson and the entire CSXT team for being the first amateur group to reach and exceed the edge of space. We look forward to the next flight of Burt Rutan's vehicle, which may mark the start of real X-PRIZE competition."

"The two flights demonstrate that small disciplined groups are capable of safely flying powerful rocket-powered vehicles. They also clearly demonstrate the private potential that can be tapped to help accomplish the new Vision for Space Exploration."

"NSS is proud to support these historic efforts by working towards a legal and regulatory environment that enables such American innovation to thrive. Over the past year, NSS has supported both amateur rocketry and suborbital spaceflight on Capitol Hill, and those efforts are now paying off."

These flights will be a major focus at NSS' annual convention, the International Space Development Conference, to be held in Oklahoma City next week. Leaders from all sectors of the new world of space will convene to plan the next phase in this historic period.

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The National Space Society (NSS) is an independent, international, grassroots organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. NSS has more than 20,000 supporters and 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. Founded in 1974, NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizens voice on space.

The International Space Development Conference (ISDC) will bring together leaders from all areas of the new world of space, including Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin, Courtney Stadd, Rick Tumlinson, and Dr. Robert Zubrin. It will be held May 27-31 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. For more information, visit the conference homepage: www.isdc2004.org.

For More Information:
George Whitesides
Executive Director
(202) 429-1600
george@nss.org


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