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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

5 Years After SpaceShipOne: Commercial Spaceflight Ready for 'Go'

• Space

It has been five years since SpaceShipOne screamed its way into the history books as the first privately built and financed manned craft to reach space. While that roar from the ship's rocket engine has long since dissipated, the aftershocks from its suborbital space shots are still being felt.

Roaring upward over the Mojave, Calif., desert on repeat flights, pilots Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie individually controlled the craft to the suborbital heights - and within the span of a 14-day period. In doing so, on Oct. 4, 2004, the $10 million Ansari X Prize was won - and the vision of non-governmental spaceflight became sharply focused.

Designed by Mojave-based Burt Rutan - the lead out-of-the-box thinker of Scaled Composites and his team - and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the barrier-breaking vehicle earned its stripes.

Its victory was hailed by the banner: "SpaceShipOne, Government Zero."


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