SpaceShipOne, the first spacecraft1 to be built and flown by private citizens, made history in early October. The spacecraft landed in California after climbing into the Earth's atmosphere2 for the second time in 14 days. The successful launches3 into space and smooth4 landings5 on Earth made SpaceShipOne the winner of the $10 million Ansari X Prize.
The Ansari X Prize was created to promote private tourism6 in space. People competing7 for the prize tried to build and send the first privately paid-for and operated spacecraft into sub-orbital space. To win, contestants8 had to fly to an altitude9 of 100 kilometers,10 on two trips, in two weeks. More than 20 teams from around the world entered to win.
Burt Rutan, an American aerospace engineer, spent about seven years designing the winning spacecraft. SpaceShipOne's pilot11 Brian Binnie said the flight was a fantastic12 experience. The second flight went smoother than the first, which rolled unexpectedly during ascent.13
Space enthusiasts14 hope that this prize will have the same effect on space travel that a similar contest15 had on airplane travel more than 80 years ago. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh claimed16 the $25,000 Orteig Prize when he became the first person to fly solo17 across the Atlantic Ocean.