On June 21, 2004 in Mojave, California, SpaceShipOne rocketed into history by becoming the first privately built spacecraft to enter sub-orbital space. Just a few months later, the craft—piloted by Michael Melvill on September 29 and Brian Binnie on October 4—successfully attained space twice within five days, and thereby claimed the $10 million Ansari X-Prize. The X Prize was modeled after the $25,000 prize won by Charles Lindbergh for the first solo New York-to-Paris flight across the Atlantic in 1927.
Underwritten by Paul G. Allen and designed by renowned aerospace engineer Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif., SpaceShipOne's unique form and abilities portend a new future for independent space travel. In collaboration with the SpaceShipOne team, entrepreneur Richard Branson is planning a new venture called Virgin Galactic, which will shuttle civilians into space.