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Michael Melvill

Michael MelvillAKA Michael W. Melvill

Born: 11-Nov-1941
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Astronaut

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: First private astronaut in space

The first to enter space aboard a privately funded spacecraft, Michael Melvill attained an elevation of 300,000 feet aboard SpaceShipOne on 21 June 2004. The craft was sponsored by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen to the tune of $20M and designed by Burt Rutan. The flight did not go without a hitch; Melvill in his own words best describes his re-entry: "As I came out of the atmosphere I no longer had any altitude control... If that had happened earlier, I would never have made it and you all would be looking sad right now."

SpaceShipOne is one of a number of contenders for the "Ansari X-Prize", which is $10M offered to the first group that can twice put a man in space within a two-week span in the same re-used craft. It should be noted that the American Space Shuttle comes at a cost of $600M per flight.

Melvill as a teenager lived in London, moved to the United States in the 1970s, and is now a naturalized citizen.

Sister: Rosemary "Bunny" Melvill (resident of Durban, RSA)
Wife: Sally Smythe (childhood sweetheart, m. Scotland)

    High School: Hilton College, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (dropout age 11)

    John McCain 2008
    Naturalized US Citizen

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