White Knight, the mothership of the world’s first private-sector space plane SpaceShipOne, is now hanging in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. On Monday, the twin-boom plane made its final flight into Paine Field in Everett, Washington, to become part of billionaire Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection.
Ten years ago, early in the morning on June 21, 2004, White Knight launched SpaceShipOne that rocketed into outer space. That remarkable flight and the ones that followed later in the year gave birth to Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline.
Paul Allen bankrolled the SpaceShipOne effort, which won the $10 million Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight.
White Knight is succeeded by WhiteKnightTwo which is bigger and is still undergoing testing. The Albuquerque Journal quotes Virgin Galactic’s Stephen Attenborough as saying “we have an achievable pathway” to fly Virgin’s billionaire founder, Richard Branson, into space by the end of this year.