Tuesday, October 11, 2005
The first private spaceship took its place at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum next to Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, a hoped for symbol of a new era of space tourism alongside the icon of trans-Atlantic flight. SpaceShipOne's designer, Burt Rutan and its financier, Microsoft Corp. cofounder Paul Allen, were on hand as the museum took ownership of the 28-foot star-spangled spacecraft. A year ago, Rutan and Allen captured the $10-million Ansari X Prize when SpaceShipOne dashed to the edge of space twice in five days. The prize was aimed at encouraging space tourism. Rutan has a deal with British entrepreneur Richard Branson to build a fleet of passenger spacecraft.