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The Spaceflights of SpaceShipOne

21 Jun 2020, 13:55 UTC
The Spaceflights of SpaceShipOne
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During the opening decades of the Space Age, crewed spaceflight was restricted to programs sponsored by the world’s largest governments. In order to spur civilian commercial efforts in low-cost crewed spaceflight, the X Prize Foundation (a non-profit organization founded in 1994 that designs and hosts public competitions intended to encourage technological development to benefit humanity) announced a competition in May of 1996 to build and fly the first non-government-developed, reusable crewed spacecraft. Modelled after prizes to spur developments in aviation during the early 20th century, the $10 million “X Prize” (renamed the “Ansari X Prize” after a sizable donation by entrepreneurs Anousheh Ansari and Amir Ansari in May 2004) was offered to the first non-government team to build a reusable spacecraft and fly it into space, as defined by the 100-kilometer Karman line, twice within two weeks.
Over two dozen teams across the globe competed for the Ansari X Prize and the glory of being the first to exploit a potential commercial frontier. As time passed it was clear that only a handful of the competitors had any realistic chance of winning the prize and in the end only one won the Ansari X Prize 8½ years after it was ...

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