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X-Prize Awarded in St. Louis

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Burt Rutan, at Saturday's X-Prize ceremony (UPI photo)

By AP/KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The designers of the first privately manned rocket to reach outer space received a $10 million check in St. Louis on Saturday.

Burt Rutan, the designer of the winning SpaceShipOne, accepted the Ansari X Prize money. He also was given a 150-pound trophy as a plane flew over the ceremony at the St. Louis Science Center.

Rutan's rocket plane qualified for the prize by blasting into space twice in five days.

The rocket plane was financed with more than $20 million dollars from Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen.

The X Prize will now evolve into a regular competition called the X Prize Cup. The prize was started in 1996 by Peter Diamandis, who cited how aviation contests helped launch mainstream air travel.

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