SpaceShipOne

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SpaceShipOne
Astronaut Mike Melvill after his September 29, 2004 spaceflight.
Role Spaceplane
Manufacturer Scaled Composites
Designer Burt Rutan
First flight 20 May 2003 (2003-05-20)
Retired 4 October 2004 (2004-10-04)
Primary user Mojave Aerospace Ventures
Number built 1
Developed into SpaceShipTwo

SpaceShipOne is a vehicle built to travel to the lower limits of outer space. It completed the first manned private spaceflight in 2004. That same year, it won the US$10 million Ansari X Prize and has not flown since winning. It was carried high into the air by a specially designed plane named "White Knight". Both vehicles were built and flown by Mojave Aerospace Ventures. This was a joint project between Paul Allen and Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan's flying machine company. Allen provided the money to build and fly SpaceShipOne, about US$25 million.

Rutan has said that ideas about the project began as early as 1994. The full-time work towards the 2004 accomplishments took about three years. The vehicle first flew faster than the speed of sound on December 17, 2003. This date was also the one-hundredth anniversary of the Wright Brothers' historic first powered flight. SpaceShipOne's first official spaceflight, was piloted by Mike Melvill. A few days before that flight, the Mojave Air and Space Port was the first commercial spaceport licensed in the United States. A few hours after that flight, Melvill became the first licensed U.S. commercial astronaut. The overall project name was "Tier One". It has evolved into Tier 1b with a goal of taking a new, but similar ship's first paying passengers into space within the next few years.