That, say his critics, is his weakness.
"You've got to put this in the right context," said Mark Lewis, a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland.
"Taken in and of itself, it's not a big deal. They've got a small cockpit on a rocket engine. The speeds they're reaching are speeds we reached 50 years ago. The concept of dropping the craft from a carrier plane is great, but we were doing that back in the World War II era."
Others claim that the private space effort will fail at the first hurdle.
"My take on SpaceShipOne is that it won't make altitude" when it comes time to go for the X Prize, said Randa Milliron of Interorbital Systems, a Scaled Composites competitor. "It might be able to just kiss space with one person on board," Milliron said.
"But with three people? If he does it, he'll be extremely lucky."