Private spaceflight pioneers

Private spaceflight pioneers

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Credit: SCALED COMPOSITES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Private spaceflight pioneers. Paul G. Allen (left, born 1953) and Burt Rutan (born 1943), pioneers of private spaceflight. Rutan, an aerospace engineer, and Allen, a billionaire philanthropist, are key figures in the SpaceShipOne project. Allen, who made his fortune in computers, funded the design by Rutan and his research team at the California- based company Scaled Composites. The first launch is scheduled for 21 June 2004 from the small town of Mojave, California, USA. If it is successful, SpaceShipOne will be the world's first commercial manned space vehicle. All previous space flights were large, expensive government programs. It is hoped that private spaceflight will be cheaper.

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