"MOJAVE, Calif. (Reuters) - SpaceShipOne, the world's first privately funded manned spacecraft, on Monday reached space for the second time in less than a week to win a $10 million prize designed to spur commercial space travel.
The stubby, three-seat rocket plane hurtled to a height of 368,000 feet traveling at more than three times the speed of sound to reach space on the last of two flights required to win the Ansari X Prize."We are proud to announce that SpaceShipOne has made two flights to 100 kilometers (62 miles) and has won the Ansari X Prize," Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize announced to reporters at Mojave airport. "
Update, from Wired News: An annual X-prize exhibition & contest? "
Land of Enchantment, aliens, spaceracing: Now that a team is on the verge of winning the X Prize, Diamandis wants to make sure everyone knows we're just beginning the new space race.
In fact, the X Prize Foundation plans to hold an annual competition for spaceship builders featuring big cash prizes and big TV coverage. He sees an X Prize Cup exhibition taking place next year at New Mexico's White Sands Missile Range, with full-on events starting in 2006.
New Mexico sees the cup as a way of kickstarting interest in its Southwestern Regional Spaceport. Right now, the spaceport is a scrubby, nearly empty expanse of desert adjacent to the government-run White Sands facility in south-central New Mexico.
But one early X Prize contestant, Britain's Starchaser, has agreed to set up operations there, and another, John Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace, studied the possibility of launching from the area. Despite the stirrings of interest, New Mexico's plan needs a boost because other states, including Oklahoma and Texas, have the very same spaceport idea.
Rick Homans, New Mexico's secretary of Economic Development, was in Mojave for last Wednesday's launch and spoke during the postflight press conference.
"New Mexico makes perfect sense for this," Homans said in his tongue-in-cheek pitch. "Most of you have heard of Roswell, where we actually have visitors from space coming to New Mexico. We're looking at the X Prize Cup as a way of building some traffic in the other direction.""