Greetings from Las Cruces, New Mexico!

The X Prize Cup goes down at the airport here on Sunday, and I’m snapping photos and writing about it for the Popular Science website. Also gathering story ideas for future issues.

XCOR Aerospace’s Rich Pournelle invited me to join the XCOR crew on the tarmac today for prep work on their EZ Rocket.

This rocket powered airplane will be flown at the Cup by former shuttle astronaut Rick Searfoss. Since it’s the only manned vehicle to be flown at what will become an annual air show for spaceships, it’s pretty much the main event as far as I’m concerned.

So it was a no-brainer for me to blow off a press conference held at the same time and take Pournelle up on his invitation. So glad I did, too, because I got to see Searfoss do a practice flight.

I also got to stop by the hanger where John Carmack’s Aramadillo Aerospace crew was prepping their vehicle.

Armadillo’s vehicle is a 10-foot-tall technology demonstrator for their planned one-man suborbital spaceship, which Carmack says could launch as early as next year.

Very cool stuff, and though I don’t know yet what happened at the press conference, I’m sure I had a lot more fun than my colleagues who went to that.

I’m walking something of a fine line here with my blog, since I’m committed to blogging the XP Cup for, and I don’t want to scoop my own story.

However, I have a pretty good idea of what my editors at PopSci want, and I think I can reserve that stuff for them and only cover the stuff they don’t want here. For instance today’s prep work–it’ll be old news by the time PopSci posts my stuff for them on Monday, at the earliest.

After I got the PopSci assignment, was planning not to blog here at all, just to play it safe, but XCOR’s Dan DeLong told me today that he told the XCOR folks left back home in Mojave to keep an eye on my blog for news from the Cup. I don’t want to disappoint! And I don’t think anyone else will be blogging from the Cup, so it looks like it’s up to me.

Stay tuned!