MOJAVE, Calif. - SpaceShipOne soared to a record 368,000 feet early Monday, easily surpassing the altitude required to win the Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight and breaking an altitude record set by the U.S. military's X-15 space plane in 1963.
Even before the radar confirmation, X Prize founder Peter Diamandis told reporters that SpaceShipOne had appeared to top the required altitude of 100-kilometers (62.5 miles or 328,000 feet). Less than an hour after the plane landed back at Mojave Airport here, the altitude was officially confirmed and the prize officially won.
Pilot Brian Binnie, 51, is now only the second private-sector astronaut, following his colleague Mike Melvill, who flew SpaceShipOne in the first prize-qualifying flight last week.
Binnie's flight appeared to go more smoothly than SpaceShipOne's outing last Wednesday, when the plane experienced an unanticipated, dramatic ...