Virgin Galactic flies its first astronauts to the edge of space, taking one step closer to space tourism
Burt Rutan's spaceship two has crashed1 Dead, 1 Injured After Virgin Galactic Spaceship Crashes During Test Flight Over Mojave Desert
they seem to have shifted the goalposts
Boundary of space being reconsidered as Virgin Galactic test program advances
One question is what altitude SpaceShipTwo will need to reach in order to have considered to reach space. While there is no formal boundary of space in treaties or law, the industry has frequently used the altitude of 100 kilometers, known as Karman Line after the late aerospace engineer Theodore von Kármán. That definition gained prominence during the Ansari X Prize competition for commercial suborbital vehicles, won by SpaceShipOne in 2004 when it flew above that altitude twice within two weeks, as well as during a test flight three months earlier.
Microsoft's Paul Allen provided $25M funding for Spaceship One. The prize was $10M.
I remember seeing Burt Rutan's Spaceship One on CNN. Rutan was asked how it felt to win the Ansari X Prize, and he was like, "The what now?"
Spaceship One reached over 100km, the Karman Line, and now hangs in the National Air and Space Museum on the Mall in DC.
Spaceship Two's flight, reported in the link above, reached 82km, and I've read that Branson was trying to get space scientists to redefine space. If there's a billionaire involved (Richard Branson, see the discussion on motorboating), you've got to wonder if there was any quid pro quo, be it a new telescope or a trip to a private island.