October 04, 2004

Only in America

Only in America can a private citizen and a private company go into outerspace.

Ansari X Prize founder Peter Diamandis hoped the multimillion-dollar incentive would have the same effect on space travel as the Orteig Prize had on air travel. Charles Lindbergh claimed that $25,000 prize in 1927 after making his solo trans-Atlantic flight.

Major funding came from the Ansari family of Dallas. More than two dozen teams around the world are trying to win the prize, but only SpaceShipOne has reached space.

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe came to Mojave to watch last week's flight, and Marion C. Blakey, head of the Federal Aviation Administration, came to watch Monday's flight.

"I think it's an enormous step because what it does, really, is establish I think in the minds of the average American the fact that that this is something that you can actually consider in your lifetime," Blakey said Sunday.

Last week, Richard Branson, the British airline mogul and adventurer, announced that beginning in 2007, he will begin offering paying customers flights into space aboard rockets like the SpaceShipOne. He plans to call the service Virgin Galactic.

Posted by psugrad98 at October 4, 2004 11:11 AM

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