Space Toy

At 6:45 one morning last week, Michael Melvill, 63, was just a shy grandfather of four. By 8:15 a.m., he had ridden a privately funded, rocket-powered glider 328,491 ft. into the morning sky, becoming the first person ever to fly a civilian craft into space. By the end of the week, he was a motivational speaker at a conference for TV marketing executives--a last-minute substitute for hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.

The flight of SpaceShipOne--brainchild of aerospace whiz Burt Rutan and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen--was hailed as a giant leap toward opening space flight to tourists. Indeed, the craft was impressively small...

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