NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today congratulated the SpaceShipOne team on the third successful flight of a private human spacecraft. The team also wins the $10 million X Prize competition.
The X Prize Foundation created a $10 million prize designed to encourage space tourism through competition among entrepreneurs, engineers and other rocketry experts. The Ansari X Prize was conceived to reward the team, which designed the first private spaceship to successfully fly to a sub-orbital altitude of just over 62 miles (100 kilometers) on two consecutive flights within two weeks.
The competition was modeled after the Orteig Prize, won in 1927 by Charles Lindberg for the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris. All teams had to be privately financed.
"Burt Rutan, Paul Allen and the rest of the SpaceShipOne team are to be congratulated for this important achievement. They successfully demonstrated a new human spacecraft, a new propulsion system and a new high-altitude airborne launch platform," said Administrator O'Keefe. "The spirit of determination and innovation demonstrated today show that America is excited about a new century of exploration and discovery. We wish the SpaceShipOne team continued success and many more safe flights," he added.
Aboard the International Space Station 230 miles up, the Expedition 9 crew, made up of NASA astronaut Mike Fincke and Russian Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, noted that for a few minutes this morning, they were joined in space by SpaceShipOne pilot Brian Binnie. "From Gennady and myself and the International Space Station team, congratulations on a job well done, and we're really glad SpaceShipOne returned safely," said Fincke.
Explore further: NASA asteroid hunter spacecraft data available to public