HomeLarge Scale ProjectsSpace Exploration

SpaceShipOne, SpaceShipTwo

SpaceShipOne was a privately funded spacecraft, designed by aerospace engineer Burt Rutan, that achieved suborbital spaceflight. It was the first manned spacecraft not funded by the government. It won the $10 million Ansari X Prize, which required building a spacecraft that could be reused within two weeks, among other requirements. After one of its flights, the pilot Mike Melvill stood atop the craft and held a sign handed to him by a spectator which read "SpaceShipOne, Government Zero".


Funding for SpaceShipOne came from Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, who supplied $25 million. Richard Branson licensed the technology for Virgin Galactic and funded its successor SpaceShipTwo five years later. Funding for the Ansari X Prize came from the Ansari family. However, despite Charity Navigator claiming no government grants to the X Prize foundation, at least one X Prize award (not Ansari) was sponsored by the US Government. (Perhaps awards and the foundation itself are counted separately for funding purposes).



Other Sources