SpaceShipOne Now Officially "Space" Ship

Hoping to win the 10 million dollar X-Prize, a crew of people launched SpaceShipOne into the stratosphere above the mojave desert, tuesday:

Onlookers held their breath as the manned SpaceShipOne performed unexpected but spectacular acrobatics on its way into space, the first step toward winning the Ansari X Prize on Wednesday.

The spacecraft landed successfully, but hit problems shortly after the rocket ignited during its vertical ascent. It began a series of about 40 barrel rolls that stopped only when the burn ended and the craft reached its top altitude.

It touched down for a smooth landing about 11:35 a.m. ET, completing a successful flight despite the nail-biting moments.

Pilot Mike Melvill had to shut down the engine 11 seconds before it would have cut off automatically.

"Probably, I stepped on something too quickly and caused the roll," said Melvill, who appeared to shrug off the incident. "It's nice to do a roll at the top of the climb."

...An unofficial altitude for SpaceShipOne of 358,000, or about 67 miles, was recorded by radar at the site. An altitude of about 62 miles is necessary to win.

If SpaceCraftOne's altitude is confirmed, it will also have beaten the X-15's top altitude of 354,200 feet (67 miles) set on August 22, 1963.

This marks the first of two successful flights the team needs to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

Exceptional news and what a fantastic feat. I can't wait to see footage of all the "rolls" it did on the way up. I think craft like this are the future of our space program. It's exciting to see the ingenuity on display in this type of aircraft.
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