4 October 2004 – SpaceShipOne was an experimental air-launched rocket-powered aircraft with sub-orbital spaceflight capability at speeds of up to 3,000 ft/s (900 m/s), using a hybrid rocket motor. The design featured a unique “feathering” atmospheric reentry system where the rear half of the wing and the twin tail booms folded 70 degrees upward along a hinge running the length of the wing; this increased drag while retaining stability.
SpaceShipOne completed the first crewed private spaceflight in 2004. That same year, it won the US$10 million Ansari X Prize and was immediately retired from active service. Its mother ship was named “White Knight”. Both aircraft were developed and flown by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, which was a joint venture between Paul Allen and Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan’s aviation company. Allen provided the funding of approximately US$25 million.
Rutan has indicated that ideas about the project began as early as 1994 and the full-time development cycle time to the 2004 accomplishments was about three years. The vehicle first achieved supersonic flight on December 17, 2003, which was also the one-hundredth anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ historic first powered flight.”(1)
Source: (1) Wikipedia