June 21 - One of the key players behind this historic flight is a Kansan and Wichita State University graduate. While he wasn't on board the "SpaceShipOne" rocket, he's the project engineer for the privately owned rocket plane. And he was at the controls when the plane took off.
For Matt Steinmetze, when it comes to aviation, anything's possible.
"We have a letter when he was in second grade to NASA and was letting them know he wanted to be an astronaut," says Sharon Steinmetze, Matt's mother.
The boy who designed his own model airplanes received his degree at Wichita State. Six years late, he's on the brink of making history.
"He's real excited about the whole thing. He's having a good time."
Matt is the project engineer for "SpaceShipOne," a privately owned rocket plane. Monday morning, it became the first non-government flight to ever leave the Earth's atmosphere.
"I'm floored. It was very impressive technology and to think, ‘gee my son's part of this,’ it was exciting," says Tom Steinmetze, Matt's father.
And it brings the team closer to winning the $10 million Ansari X prize.
"Until the last couple of weeks, I'm not sure I thought it was as big as it was. But Matt has said all along that it was going to be historic, and he likes the idea of being a piece of history."
But his parents say Matt's not interested in becoming an airplane mogul. It's all just about doing what he loves.
"Matthew's never done it for the money, he never has. He would probably do it if people didn't pay him at all; he did this because that's what his interest was. His dream was always to make airplanes."
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