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First Privately Build Aircraft To Reach Space
The rocket plane SpaceShipOne became the first privately built aircraft to reach space on June 21, 2004 when it reached an altitude of 328,491 feet (100.12 kilometers) above the earth. Just 408 feet above the internationally recognized boundary between space and earth's atmosphere.
SpaceShipOne was built by Scaled Composites, headed by aviation pioneer burt Rutan, with financial support from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
The aircraft, piloted by Mike Melvill (63), took off from the Mojave Desert and carried to 50,000 feet by the White Knight jet before it was released for it's flight into space. It reached a speed of Mach 3 during it's accent. A problem with the craft's trim surfaces pushed the craft off course, but a backup system corrected the problem and there was no serious risk to the flight.
Melvill, received the nation's first pair of commercial astronaut's wings from the Federal Aviation Administration on landing safely.
Posted: 2004-06-22 3:36:56 PM
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