Space Foundation Press Releases

First Civilian Flight into Space

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jun. 21, 2004) — Calling it a `landmark day in human history,` the Space Foundation today hailed the suborbital flight of the private spacecraft SpaceShipOne as a transformational event that will open the doors of space travel to ordinary people everywhere. “This is an incredible day in space history, and a landmark day in human history,” said Elliot G. Pulham, president and chief executive officer of the Space Foundation. “Breaking the government monopoly on human space flight has long been a holy grail, and the SpaceShipOne team has done it.In time today flight will come to be regarded in the same breath as Charles Lindbergh solo flight across the Atlantic or Alan Shepard ride atop a Redstone rocket.” “Paul Allen, Burt Rutan, Mike Melvill and their small team at Scaled Composites have accomplished what many nations with infinitely more resources have not,” Pulham said. Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne, with civilian astronaut Mike Melvill at the controls, reached the edge of space over the Mojave Desert today.They soared to the end of Earth atmosphere with a privately built spacecraft that was designed, developed, built and flown for less money than mightypically be spent on a government study for such a system roughly more than $20 million.Melvill left Earth a pilot and returned as the world first commercial astronaut after reaching the required altitude of 62.5 miles (100 kilometers). The Space Foundation, the leading non-profit space advocacy organization, offered its congratulations to the Scaled Composites team while noting that the accomplishments of SpaceShipOne underscore the important role private industry has in ensuring a vigorous future for human exploration and development of space. “At a time when our world is filled with the noise of war and politics, we welcome this reminder that there still are Americans who see a worthy goal and then do what it takes to get it done,” Pulham said. “Our nation is a better place because of these successful entrepreneurs.” “Our commercial space sector is capable of so much more than it is often given credit for,” Pulham said. “Increased opportunities for space tourism, lowering the cost of getting people and cargo into and out of Earth orbit, and supporting our nation’s Vision for Space Exploration all are important jobs that industry is more than capable of handling.” “However, our elected officials need to understand the transformation that is under way and support it,” Pulham said.”It is critically important to future commercial flights that the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 be passed immediately so the U.S. can be a leader in this important new industry.”That bill, HR 3752, was passed earlier this year by the House of Representatives but remains bottled up in the Senate. About the Space Foundation The Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Space Foundation is a national non-profit organization, which vigorously advances civil, commercial, and national security space endeavors and educational excellence. In addition to supporting the Coalition for Space Exploration, the Space Foundation annually conducts, along with its partnering organizations, the National Space Symposium, Space at the Crossroads, and the upcoming Strategic Space 2004, scheduled Oct. 5-7, in Omaha, Neb.