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Plane Makes First Privately Financed Manned Spaceflight - 2004-06-22


A rocket plane called SpaceShipOne has made the world's first privately funded manned spaceflight.

Organizers say pilot Michael Melvill flew to an altitude of 100 kilometers and spent three minutes above the earth's atmosphere.

After the 90-minute sub-orbital flight, he landed in the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles.

Mr. Melvill said he flew high enough to see the curvature of the earth and the black expanse of space.

NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe congratulated Mr. Melvill and flight organizers on their achievement.

The plane's builder, Burt Rutan, says he expects affordable space flights to become a reality in coming years.

The project was financed with more than 20-million dollars from Paul Allen, a founder of the Microsoft Corporation.

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