NEW YORK, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- AVIATION WEEK has named "The Space Entrepreneur," a group of visionaries and engineers who are leading the way for commercial space tourism, as its 2009 Person of the Year in a cover story released today in Aviation Week & Space Technology. Privately financed spaceships, such as Scaled Composite's SpaceShipTwo and Masten Space Systems' lunar lander, are growing in number and budgets. After receiving more than $1 billion in private capital, NASA has recently awarded space entrepreneurs with multi-billion dollar contracts for transporting cargo to the International Space Station, and may rely on them to transport astronauts once the space shuttle fleet is retired.
"Space entrepreneurs had a big influence on aerospace in 2009, although it does not begin to compare with the impact they are likely to have in years to come," says the Aviation Week & Space Technology article by Deputy Managing Editor, Space, Frank Morring, Jr. and Senior Editor Guy Norris.
"While several companies are developing commercial space vehicles, the space community has several obstacles to overcome," said Anthony Velocci, Jr., Editor-in-Chief of Aviation Week & Space Technology. "Members of Congress and others have voiced concerns about safety standards and whether the government should rely on private companies for space exploration. How the industry responds to these questions will be an important factor in how quickly space tourism can grow."
"We're at the beginning of a new era in access to space... an era of commercial human spaceflight," said Tom Henricks, president, AVIATION WEEK, and a former NASA astronaut. "It's exciting that entrepreneurs are pursuing opportunities in space. Only about five hundred people have been to space in the past half century. AVIATION WEEK is proud to recognize these innovative individuals for their enormous contributions to making space accessible to many more in the near future."
The Person of the Year distinction, the fifth in AVIATION WEEK's 93-year history, recognizes the impact individuals have on the broader aviation, aerospace and defense community. AVIATION WEEK staff editors selected this intrepid group from an international field of candidates. Prior recipients include U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (2008); the father of China's space program, Tsien Hsue-shen (2007); Alan R. Mulally, currently of Ford Motor Co. and previously of Boeing Co. (2006); and Finmeccanica's Pier Francesco Guarguaglini (2005).
Complete coverage of the Person of the Year is available at http://www.aviationweek.com.
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