Offered Without Comment 4

From the San Jose Mercury News:

MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) – A privately developed manned rocket will attempt to reach space this month and become the first non-governmental flight to leave Earth’s atmosphere, the builders said today.

SpaceShipOne, created by famed aviation designer Burt Rutan and funded by billionaire Paul Allen, will attempt to reach an altitude of 62 miles on a suborbital flight over the Mojave Desert on June 21.

The rocket plane, with pilot Mike Melvill at the controls, reached an altitude of 211,400 feet, or about 40 miles, during a test flight on May 13 above the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center.

Suborbital flights are essentially up and down. The craft does not reach speeds fast enough to go into orbit around the Earth.

If the June attempt is successful, SpaceShipOne will compete for the Ansari X Prize, a competition in which $10 million goes to the first reusable rocket able to carry three people into space on a suborbital flight, return them safely to Earth, and repeat the feat within two weeks with the same vehicle.

A number of other private organizations are also developing contenders for the prize.

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