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 ...