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X-Prize Director Says Flight Marks New Era in Spaceflight

A launch plane takes off with SpaceShipOne attached as it begins the historic flight of the world's first privately funded manned rocket plane to travel beyond Earth's atmosphere at the Mojave Airport in California. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters.

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis – The director of the St. Louis-based X-Prize Foundation says the flight of the world's first privately-built spacecraft marks a new phase of the space race.

The vehicle known as "Spaceship One" reached an altitude of 62.5 miles Monday over the California desert.

The team is competing for the X-Prize, a $10 million purse given to the first group to take three passengers that same distance and back twice within two weeks.

The foundation's Gregg Maryniak says the flight cost only a fraction of a government spacelaunch.

"A typical NASCAR or Formula One racing team is going to spend $50 million to $100 million just in their first year," Maryniak said. "Well, in the several years that this program is going, the total amount of money spent is probably about $25 million. And the nice thing about this is that it's paving a path for you and I to go into space."

More than 50 people from the St. Louis area have contributed to the X-Prize.


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