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It may not have been a “giant leap for mankind,” but it was certainly a significant step toward opening the frontier of space to civilians. It also shows what the private sector can bring about.

We speak of Monday’s landmark flight of SpaceShipOne above California’s Mohave Desert.

The privately funded craft rocketed 62 miles into sub-orbital space and returned to land safely, much like the Space Shuttle. However, SpaceShipOne accomplished the feat at a fraction of the cost of a single shuttle mission. In making the flight, civilian pilot Mike Melvill made history by earning his astronaut wings.

Chalk up a major victory for the entrepreneurial spirit!

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen reportedly invested some $20 million into the effort. As Allen said, SpaceShipOne demonstrates that “relatively modest amounts of private funding can significantly increase the boundaries of commercial space technology.”

The project’s ultimate exciting goal is to make space flight available and affordable to the masses. By taking the first step, other entrepreneurs undoubtedly will be spurred on to accelerate the age of civilian space travel.

In KSL’s view, the initial success of SpaceShipOne offers a vivid example of what enterprising visionaries can accomplish beyond the costly limitations and burdens government bureaucracy.

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