Rocket plane reaches Earth's atmosphere in private space flight

rocket plane soared out of Earth’s atmosphere Monday in history’s first privately financed manned spaceflight. SpaceShipOne pilot Mike Melvill was aiming to fly 62 miles high. The exact altitude was to be confirmed by radar later.

The ship touched down at Mojave Airport to applause and cheers at 8:15 a.m. PDT, about 90 minutes after the flight began. For a few minutes after SpaceShipOne began its descent, it was unclear whether Melvill had reached his goal. But the mission announcer finally said the mission had been successful as the craft prepared to land at Mojave Airport, accompanied by three chase planes.

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