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SpaceShipOne on display at US flight museum

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WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (AFP) - SpaceShipOne, the first privately built and piloted vehicle to reach space, was donated to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington on Wednesday, for permanent display alongside other history-making craft.

In June, the ship flew above 100 kilometers (62 miles) altitude, briefly leaving Earth's atmosphere, and winning its designers a 10 million dollar award for the first privately funded space flight.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who funded SpaceShipOne, donated the rocket to the museum on Washington's National Mall, not far from the white-domed Capitol building, in a ceremony at noon Wednesday.

SpaceShipOne will suspended permanantly above the main museum entrance, between the Spirit of St. Louis, which Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, and Bell X-1, which Chuck Yeager flew for the first time faster than the speed of sound in 1947.

"I am very pleased the museum understands the significance of what we have done last year," said Rutan, whose work was meant to usher in a new era of "space tourism."



COPYRIGHT 2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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