Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites won the $10 million Ansari X-Prize on 4 October with its SpaceShipOne rocketplane, funded to the tune of $20 million by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Former US Navy pilot Brian Binnie completed the required second of two flights of SpaceShipOne to exceed 328,000ft (100,000m) altitude, with 180kg (400lb) of ballast and equipment representing the weight of two passengers. Within three years, SpaceShipOne could be carrying fare-paying passengers. The first commercial missions are likely to carry Rutan, Allen and Sir Richard Branson, whose new Virgin Galactic company will market the flights (Flight International, 5-11 October). Branson says his web site has been seen by 5 million visitors and over 5,000 people have said they are ready to pay.

Source: Flight International