.....................Instapundit has a collection of details.
A rocket plane soared above Earth's atmosphere Monday in the first privately financed manned spaceflight, then glided back to Earth for an unpowered landing.
SpaceShipOne pilot Mike Melvill was aiming to fly 62 miles above the Earth's surface. The exact altitude reached was not immediately confirmed by radar.
The ship touched down at Mojave Airport to applause and cheers at 8:15 a.m. PDT, about 90 minutes after it was carried aloft slung under the belly of the jet-powered White Knight. . . .
Burt Rutan, and the project was funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who would only describe the cost as being in excess of $20 million.
"Clearly, there is an enormous, pent-up hunger to fly in space and not just dream about it," Rutan said Sunday. "Now I know what it was like to be involved in America's amazing race to the moon in the '60s." . . .
NASA also is interested, said Michael Lembeck, requirements division director of the space agency's Office of Exploration Systems.
"We need people like Burt Rutan with innovative ideas that will take us to the moon and Mars," he said from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration headquarters. "Folks like Burt bring a different way of doing business."
I first heard of the whole X-Prize deal about a year ago when Bill Whittle spoke about it in this essay. It's long but definitely worth reading the whole thing..
If I hear another soul talk about the death of American ingenuity, I will bring them out here to meet those normal, smiling, somewhat scruffy, every-day rocket scientists at XCOR. I will introduce them to test pilot Dick Rutan, and his brother Burt. Burt Rutan is one of those people whose work you cannot look at without the word genius escaping your lips in a hushed whisper, unconsciously. His company, Scaled Composites, a few doors down, has a working, flying spacecraft.
No, that’s not fair. They’ve got a working, flying space launch system. And they are going, by God! They are flying into Space. The whole lot of them: XCOR, Scaled, a few others.
This is the Trinity I wanted to show you. It’s not just aerospace – it’s all through the very fiber of this magnificent, brilliant country of ours.
These people are using their own money, their own freedom and their own ingenuity to do what governments wont give them the means to do: follow that ultimate dream, into and through that deep, delirious, burning blue and out into by-God outer space! Well, if you want to be an astronaut, here in America you can build your own spaceship and you can go.
These people, these private citizens, are the best people there are. Smart, dedicated, disciplined dreamers who have the guts and the savvy to do what all of Europe, or all of China, or Japan, have yet to do: fly in space. XCOR needs about $10 million to build a working space plane: that's about the promotional budget for Legally Blonde 2. No one knows what Burt as spent at Scaled. We only know it wasn’t tax money and no one has ever been killed working for him over the past quarter century of tearing out the foundations of what we thought we could do.
I have one thing to say to these people:
ME!! PICK ME!!
Today the folks on board Spaceship One successfully broke the 100KM barrier, without any government funding or assistance, proving again that no boundary is unbreakable as long as humankind is able to push the limits of their abilities.
Congratulations guys, after I win the lottery I want to buy the first ticket to space available. How cool would that be?