AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals The Centennial Challenges were inspired in part by the $10 million Ansari X Prize that was won last year by Mojave aviation designer Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne rocket plane for the first private, manned suborbital spaceflights. Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize, said he has been talking with NASA officials about making one of the agency’s prizes a multimillion-dollar award for a private manned orbital flight. Calvert said Congress is providing the “rules and tools” for NASA to carry out the moon flights. He said Congress must be committed to the idea to ensure that the nation retains its edge in technology. “Hurricanes and the war have prompted some of my colleagues to suggest cutting the NASA budget,” Calvert said. “We can’t allow short-term events to jeopardize our long-term investments.” On Monday, NASA released a draft set of requirements to industry for launch systems to carry cargo to the International Space Station and put astronauts in orbit after the space shuttle is retired in 2010. NASA is looking at two launch systems, one for cargo and one for crew. Both will be derived from space shuttle propulsion systems. NASA will be spending about $500 million over the next four years on that effort, said Scott Horowitz, a former astronaut who is NASA’s associate administrator for exploration systems. Proposals are scheduled to be delivered to NASA on Feb. 10. In May, NASA will award contracts to go forward with developing the systems, Horowitz said. Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Congress is expected to reach agreement this month on NASA legislation that will formally endorse returning man to the moon and expand a prize program inspired in part by the Ansari X Prize. Negotiators this month are expected to resolve differences between the Senate and House of Representatives versions of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration spending authorization bill. The final bill’s language will incorporate the “Vision for Space Exploration” announced in January 2004 by President George W. Bush, directing a new moon mission. “It will be the first time Congress has officially endorsed the vision,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Riverside, chairman of the House subcommittee on space and aeronautics and one of the bill’s negotiators. The final bill will also likely continue the Centennial Challenges, a prize program NASA started last year. NASA plans to spend about $80 million over the next four years to spur private industry to develop technologies needed for space exploration.