Update : SpaceShip One successfully reached it’s altitude of +100km (+62 miles for the metrically challenged), piloted by Brian Binnie to a maximum altitude of 368,000 feet, passed an altitude record set by NASA’s X-15 forty years ago. (Google tells me that = 112.1664 kilometers).
on a related note: Mercury 7 Astronaut Gordon Cooper passed away at age 77
FuturePundit blogs “X Prize Shows Prizes Can Speed Technological Advances“, with a great summary of why this is important and , links for more info.
The more important story is that prize money can very efficiently speed the rate of technological advance in targetted areas. If NASA’s entire budget was shifted over into prize money it would do far more to accelerate the development of space technology than the current set of programs that NASA funds.