SpaceShip One wins the Ansari X Prize

SpaceShip OnePrivately-owned experimental space vehicle SpaceShip One makes its second qualifying flight into suborbital space, exceeding Mach 3 (the first privately owned vehicle to do so) and reaching an altitude of 112 kilometers. Brian Binnie pilots SpaceShip One for its third trip into space and earns the second set of FAA commercial astronaut wings as a result. A fourth trip is considered, but then cancelled to avoid any damage to the history-making vehicle. By this point, Virgin has already hired SpaceShip One designer Burt Rutan to build SpaceShip Two, a suborbtial passenger spacecraft which will take paying customers into space as part of the company’s “Virgin Galactic” service, based on the design of SpaceShip One. Rutan and investor (and Microsoft co-founder) Paul Allen also claim the $10,000,000 Ansari X Prize.