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SpaceShipOne Captures X Prize

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SpaceShipOne glides down for approach - SpaceShipOne Captures X Prize

SpaceShipOne glides down for approach - SpaceShipOne Captures X Prize

Scaled Composites
It is official. With an announcement posted on the X Prize website, Scaled Composites's SpaceShipOne has completed its second required flight and secured the $10 million Ansari X Prize. Blasting to an altitude of 364,000 feet (70 miles) aboard SpaceShipOne, eight miles beyond what was needed, pilot Brian Binnie "made history," in the words of Peter Diamandis, co-founder of the X Prize Foundation, whose $10 million award was intended to spur civilian spaceflight.

Binnie, who had been the first to pilot SpaceShipOne, had flown the White Knight turbojet, which carried the spacecraft off the ground, during the last two flights, both of which were piloted by Mike Melvill. Melvill's first mission to space barely made the required 62-mile altitude, as it veered about 20 miles off course. On Wednesday, September 29, 2004, Melvill flew SpaceShipOne even higher to 337, 569 feet (64 miles). There was a problem during that flight, though, when spacecraft began a series of corkscrew-like rolls that the pilot brought under control only after he ended the rocket burn 11 seconds early.

During today's flight, pilot Binnie remarked, "It looks great," as he accelerated the craft towards mach 3. Although he told mission control the craft felt a little shaky with "a little roll," this time, there were no unintentional corkscrews. After reaching the landmark achievement, Binnie brought SpaceShipOne to a safe landing.

Congratulations to all involved.

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