Spaced-Out Google Rumor Put To Rest

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With its meteoric stock price increases and recent acquisitions such as YouTube, it's generally assumed that Google can buy just about anything. But could it really pluck a treasure from the National Air and Space Museum and use it as a bauble in the lobby of its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters? The answer, thankfully, is no. Internet tech sites were buzzing Saturday with rumors that Google had purchased SpaceShipOne to hang in Building 43 at its headquarters. Even the rumor-prone geek sites were a bit sheepish about running with the "news," but they also weren't about to be caught flat-footed with this juicy bit of technogossip like most apparently were with the YouTube takeover. So, in the interests of good journalism (and just in case it was true), AVweb e-mailed SpaceShipOne designer, builder and project engineer Burt Rutan, who seemed a little puzzled by the inquiry.

"Only thing I know about this is that a replica of SS1 has been purchased from the X-Prize folk so Google can hang it in their lobby," Rutan wrote. TechCrunch, the blog that originated the rumor, also reported the news on Saturday and showed photos and a video of the replica being installed at Google's facility. It also offered a link to SpaceToys, a California company (where else?) that will rent or sell a full-scale replica of SpaceShipOne to anyone who wants one.