Google Acquires SpaceShipOne?

Categorize this as another unsubstantiated Google rumor, but the word on the street is that Google has acquired SpaceShipOne and is putting it inside building 43 at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. No word on the purchase price, or if this was a donation, or why the ship is not staying at the Smithsonian.

SpaceShipOne made headlines in 2004 when it won won the $10 million Ansari X prize. To win the prize, aerospace designer Burt Rutan and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen led the first private team to build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to 100 kilometers above the earth’s surface twice within two weeks. In 2005 Rutan and Richard Branson formed a new company to produce a new ship, called SpaceShipTwo, for a new spaceline company, Virgin Galactic.

This rumor is either true or someone has played a very good joke on me. I have independently confirmed that there is some odd construction going on in building 43, although it could be something unrelated. If this is accurate, SpaceShipOne should arrive at Google on Saturday, October 21.

Update: This is getting interesting. A reader emailed to point out that Larry Page is on the board of trustees of the X Prize foundation (see picture, dead center bottom), while a commenter points out that SpaceShipOne is doing just fine at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, thank you very much. If you live in Washington, will you please drop by the Smithsonian tomorrow and see if it is still there? :-)

I will send an iPod shuffle to the first person who sends me a picture of SpaceShipOne taken any time on Saturday, October 21, 2006. You have to verify the date somehow, although if you can’t and the picture turns out to be accurate I’ll honor it. I don’t care if it’s in the Smithsonian or on a crane being lifted into building 43 – I just want to know where it is (bonus points if you get a picture of it while being installed at Google, though). Easiest way to judge this is to have people put it on flickr or somewhere else online and put a link in the comments.

Final Update:
Mystery Solved.