|Volume: 02, Issue: 16||10/06/2004|
SpaceShipOne Claims ANSARI X PRIZEOn Oct. 4, 2004, SpaceShipOne and the Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC. team soared more than 360,000 feet above Earth and coasted back to a controlled landing to win the $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE. The vehicle, piloted by Brian Binney, broke a world record for altitude during the flight.
"Burt Rutan, Paul Allen and the rest of the SpaceShipOne team are to be congratulated for this important achievement. They successfully demonstrated a new human spacecraft, a new propulsion system and a new high-altitude airborne launch platform," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. "The spirit of determination and innovation demonstrated… shows that America is excited about a new century of exploration and discovery. We wish the SpaceShipOne team continued success and many more safe flights."
SpaceShipOne was released from its mothership, the White Knight, at 50,000 feet. Binney continued into space, breaking the August 22, 1963 record held by Joseph A. Walker, who flew the X-15 to an unofficial world altitude record of 354,200 feet.
This was the second flight necessary for the SpaceShipOne team to win the ANSARI X PRIZE. On Sept. 29, SpaceShipOne coasted above the 100 km altitude point and successfully completed the first of its X Prize flights. Pilot Mike Melvill was at the controls and was able to pull the vehicle out of an unexpected roll at the top of the flight.
The $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE was created by the X PRIZE Foundation to encourage space tourism through competition among entrepreneurs, engineers and other rocketry experts. The prize was conceived to reward the team that designed the first private spaceship to successfully fly to a sub-orbital altitude of just over 62 miles (100 kilometers) on two consecutive flights within two weeks. The competition was modeled after the Orteig Prize, won in 1927 by Charles Lindberg for the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris. All teams had to be privately financed.
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