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Last Updated: Monday, 8 November, 2004, 10:35 GMT
SpaceShipOne takes X-Prize spoils
The X-Prize trophy (AP)
Amir Ansari, whose family sponsored the challenge, looks on as the trophy is unveiled
The team behind SpaceShipOne has been handed the $10m cheque and trophy it won for claiming the Ansari X-Prize.

The spoils were accepted at a ceremony in St Louis, US, by the aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, whose company designed and built the rocket vehicle.

SpaceShipOne broke through the Earth's atmosphere twice in five days to win the prize which was set up to galvanise the private spaceflight business.

The UK businessman Sir Richard Branson expects to offer space rides in 2007.

His Virgin company will use a development of the SpaceShipOne craft to carry five fare-paying passengers to more than 100km.

Sir Richard, who will call his spaceline Virgin Galactic, says 7,000 people have already shown interest in buying a ticket, which will cost about US$200,000 (more than 100,000).

An annual X-Prize Cup will now take place in New Mexico, where private groups will be invited to demonstrate their space technology.

The X-Prize Foundation is also working with the World Technology Network to create a whole set of new awards. The so-called WTN X-Prizes will seek scientific or technological breakthroughs that tackle the most important challenges facing humans today.

Watch SpaceShipOne's prize-winning flight

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