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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

SpaceShipOne: The First Private Spacecraft | The Most Amazing Flying Machines Ever


A major turning point for private spaceflight occurred on June 21, 2004, when SpaceShipOne, the first non-governmental manned spacecraft, flew 62.5 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth's surface to reach the boundary of space. After two more 2004 flights — one on Sept. 29 and another on Oct. 4 — the piloted vehicle won the $10 million Ansari X Prize for repeated flights in a privately developed reusable spacecraft.

SpaceShipOne was a space plane designed and fabricated by Scaled Composites, a company owned by aerospace designer Burt Rutan. Its development was backed by the deep pockets of billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, in a joint venture named Tier One whose objective was to develop technology for low-cost routine access to space.

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