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They did it!

October 4th is now a double anniversary of the Space Age. On this date, forty-seven years ago, from the windy steppes of Kazakhstan, a missile, originally designed to deliver a deadly warhead, sundered the skies. But its payload was not a bomb, but a basketball-sized sphere of metal with transponders. Its destination was not another territory on earth, but the semi-permanent freefall of outer space. It was the first object since the dawn of time, crafted by humans, to enter orbit around our planet. It was the beginning of the space age.

Now it marks another anniversary of the peaceful use of space, this time by private enterprise. Burt Rutan's Spaceship One has taken its third flight, and has won the $10 million X Prize.

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