In a rare announcement of an upcoming event, Scaled Composites, the aerospace company run by Burt Rutan, revealed that it will attempt to send its SpaceShipOne spacecraft into space on June 21. If all goes well, SpaceShipOne will fly on a suborbital trajectory to an altitude of at least 100 kilometers, the widely-accepted boundary of space. If successful SpaceShipOne will be the first privately developed manned spacecraft to travel into space, and it will set the stage for Scaled to win the $10-million Ansari X Prize. (The flight itself won’t be one of the two qualifying flights needed to win the prize, since Scaled will apparently not carry the equivalent mass of two passengers as required for the X Prize rules.) The announcement, coming nearly three weeks before the flight itself, is unusual: Scaled has cloaked the project in a tight veil of secrecy, not announcing any of its previous test flights in advance. In fact, Scaled is inviting the public to attend the flight. Expect thousands to converge on tiny Mojave, CA, about 150 km north of Los Angeles, to see what could be a historic flight.
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