Launched from its White Knight mothership, the rocket-powered SpaceShipOne and its pilot ascended just beyond the atmosphere, arced through space (but not into orbit), then glided safely back to Earth. The flight lasted 24 minutes, with 3 minutes of weightlessness. Its three record-setting flights were:
* 100 kilometers (62 miles) altitude*; Mike Melvill, pilot; June 21, 2004
* 102 kilometers (64 miles) altitude; Mike Melvill, pilot: September 29, 2004
* 112 kilometers (70 miles) altitude; Brian Binnie, pilot; October 4, 2004
With SpaceShipOne, private enterprise crossed the threshold into human spaceflight, previously the domain of government programs. The SpaceShipOne team aimed for a simple, robust, and reliable vehicle design that could make affordable space travel and tourism possible.
SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X Prize for repeated flights in a privately developed reusable spacecraft, the Collier Trophy for greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in 2004, and the National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement.
First Commercial Flight Into Space
Impact or Innovation
This privately built, piloted craft reached space and returned safely, expanding opportunities for commercial spaceflight.
In 2004, SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the first privately developed space vehicle capable of carrying three people into suborbital spaceflight. It helped inaugurate an interest in spaceflight for ordinary citizens.
Gift of Paul G. Allen
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Body: Composite (graphite epoxy), metal, plastic
Interior: Fabric, plastic, metals, hydraulic and pneumatic systems
Motor: Composite (graphite epoxy), elastomeric compound, metal, ablative material
Overall: 8ft 10 5/16in. x 27ft 10 5/8in. x 26ft 10 13/16in., 2408lb. (270 x 850 x 820cm)
International media Interoperability Framework
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