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.
Gift of Paul G. Allen