Astronaut known as 'the first Scot in space' dies aged 69

Binnie, who grew up in Aberdeen, flew to altitude of 70 miles in 2004.

Astronaut Brian Binnie, known as ‘the first Scot in space’, dies aged 69 Getty Images

Brian Binnie, known as the “first Scot in space”, has died aged 69, his family said.

They added in a statement: “With overwhelming grief, sadness, and sorrow we announce the passing of our beloved Brian.”

The astronaut spent a large part of his childhood in Aberdeen, commenting when he was awarded an honorary degree there in 2006: “This is where I grew up and nurtured my dreams.”

Binnie went into space on October 4, 2004 when he flew SpaceShipOne to an altitude of nearly 70 miles after taking off in California.

The flight broke a four-decades old record set by the X-15 rocket plane in 1963 and made him only second civilian space pilot in history. He was awarded his astronaut wings by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Speaking at the time about his trip into space, Binnie said: “It’s a fantastic view; it’s a fantastic feeling.

“There is a freedom there and a sense of wonder that – I tell you what – you all need to experience.”

He had previously spent 21 years in the US Navy and went onto work with Richard Branson’s firm Virgin in its bid to make space tourism a reality.

In their statement, which also described him as an “American hero”, Binnie’s family said his life would be celebrated with “full military honours”.

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