The (US)$10 million Ansari X-Prize was won by Scaled Composites on 4 October 2004.
X Prize had offered a (US)$10 million reward to the first non-governmental group to successfully fly 3 people into space, then repeat the effort within a two week timeframe. The rules required that an altitude of 100 km be reached with an occupied craft capable of carrying three people, and that the same craft be able to repeat a trip into space within two weeks. The winner was Scaled Composites of Mojave, California. On 17 December 2003, SpaceShipOne became the first manned, non-governmental financed craft to break the sound barrier. SpaceShipOne completed a 13 May 2004 test flight in which pilot Mike Melvill reached a height of 211,400 feet (approximately 40 miles), the highest altitude ever reached by a non-government aerospace program. On 21 June 2004, Mike Melvill became the first person to achieve astronaut status in a privately built spacecraft during a suborbital flight to 100,000 meters (62 miles). Mike Melvill reached space again on 29 September 2004 when SpaceShipOne flew the first X-Prize qualifying flight to 337,500 feet. The final (and winning) X-Prize flight took place just 5 days later on 4 October 2004, this time with Brian Binnie at the controls, as SpaceShipOne soared to 368,000 feet.
Since the original Ansari X-Prize, the X-Prize Foundation has continued with several
- The Archon X-Prize, to create a device capable of sequencing 100 human genomes in 10 days or less.
- The Automotive X-Prize, to develop a clean, fuel efficient automobile.
- The Wirefly X-Prize Cup, a space expo featuring competitions and rocketry. Included the space elevator games.
- The Google Lunar X-Prize, to put a private robot on the moon.