XPRIZE launched new kind of space race, book recounts | Science News

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XPRIZE launched new kind of space race, book recounts

Journalist chronicles challenge to build reusable manned spacecraft

By
3:53pm, October 4, 2016
SpaceShipOne

SOARING  SpaceShipOne (shown here with its carrier aircraft) earned its makers the $10 million XPRIZE. A new book looks back at the spaceflight contest.

How to Make a Spaceship
Julian Guthrie
Penguin Press, $28

On the 47th anniversary of Sputnik’s launch, former Navy pilot Brian Binnie flew a rocket-powered ship past the brink of outer space.

Named SpaceShipOne, the ship cruised up 112 kilometers, then plunged back to Earth, wings flared like a shuttlecock to slow its descent. SpaceShipOne’s October 4, 2004, flight, the second in two weeks, earned its makers fame and the Ansari XPRIZE.

The $10 million prize, created in 1996, aimed to spawn a fantastical new kind of tourism. One day, perhaps, ordinary people could book a ride on a rocket and gaze down on Earth from the blackness of space.

It was a prize to ignite the private space industry and to “bring about change in the stagnant aerospace

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