- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 4, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - In 2004, SpaceShipOne became the first privately financed, manned rocket to reach space. Its historic flights high over California’s Mojave Desert were hailed by space enthusiasts as a leap toward opening the final frontier to ordinary people.

Seven years later, progress on developing commercial passenger spaceships has been slower than expected.

Virgin Galactic, which licensed the SpaceShipOne technology, has been conducting glide tests and hopes to begin powered flights next year.

The company has not set a date for commercial service.

About 450 people have signed up to fly with Virgin Galactic, but a few have dropped out due to medical and other reasons.








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