Aircraft designer Burt Rutan standing on SpaceShipOne.
Image: Michael Mills/Scaled Composites.

On this date in 2004, a private firm, Scaled Composites, launched a test flight of SpaceShipOne reaching an altitude of 46km and a speed of Mach 2.5. During a portion of the flight, the computerized ‘director display’ failed; however, the pilot continued the planned trajectory simply using the view from his window.

SpaceShipOne would go on to win the Ansari X Prize for completing the first crewed, private spaceflight in October of the same year.