SpaceShipOne in blue

The SpaceShipOne rocket plane is illuminated in blue light at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The Saturday night lighting served as a tribute to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who backed the prize-winning SpaceShipOne project. (NASM / Steven VanRoekel Photo)

It wasn’t just Seattle’s skyline that turned blue on Saturday night: Back east in the nation’s capital, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum cast a blue spotlight on the history-making SpaceShipOne rocket plane in honor of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who provided the money that helped it fly to space.

Allen, who passed away last month at the age of 65 after a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, invested $28 million in the SpaceShipOne effort to power the project to victory in the $10 million Ansari X Prize competition for private-sector spaceflight in 2004.

In his autobiography, “Idea Man,” Allen said he came out ahead on the deal — not just because of his share of the prize money, but also because of licensing fees for the technology and the tax break he received from donating SpaceShipOne to the Smithsonian a year later.

Since 2005, the rocket plane has been hanging from the National Air and Space Museum’s ceiling in a place of honor, near Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis airplane.

Last week, when former Microsoft executive Steven VanRoekel read about the plan to pay tribute to Allen by focusing blue spotlights on Seattle-area landmarks, a cyan-tinted light bulb went off over his head: Why not do the same with SpaceShipOne?

VanRoekel, who served a stint as the federal government’s chief information officer and recently became chief operating officer of the Rockefeller Foundation, was the perfect person to make the link: He helped coordinate the U.S. response to the 2014-2015 Ebola virus epidemic …read more

Source:: GeekWire


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