SpaceShipOne and the White Knight, are the unconventional designs of the California-based aerospace visionary Burt Rutan, who in partnership with the billionaire founder of Microsoft and space travel enthusiast Paul Allen, has invested between USD $20 million and $30 million USD in the project. A small rocket plane will power into a steep climb over California's Mojave desert later this month and, all going well, fly into history as the first private manned space vehicle. The 25 foot-long SpaceShipOne, developed by the pioneering aerospace company Scaled Composites, will soar into sub-orbital space, 62 miles above the Earth, in a bid to be the first non-government built and sponsored piloted craft to leave the atmosphere. The folding-wing rocket plane has already taken commercial space travel some 40 miles closer to reality -- on 13 May, piloted by Mike Melvill, it attained 211,400 feet, the highest altitude attained by a private aerospace program. Yesterday, Scaled Composites announced that on 21 June, weather permitting, the little plane will be carried to about 50,000 feet by its turbojet carrier aircraft, White Knight, before being released into a glide. Once the pilot (still to be named) fires its rocket motor, it will accelerate to Mach 3 in a vertical climb, then coast to a height of 62 miles before dropping back towards the Earth.