notice - Three-seater
powers up for cheap space trip - Times Online - May.8.03 (link
found at spacetoday.net)...
The Scaled Composites entry
page at the X PRIZE has, not surprisingly, been updated and
includes a new team
briefing (pdf, 284kb). No new info from whats on the Scaled
website but does provide the essential info in a nicely compact
article about the SS1 - Not
Just for Millionaires and Pop Stars: A private company reveals its
craft for sending tourists to space - Astronomy - May.6.03
Test firing of
SpaceDev's hybrid engine.
SS1 engine photos... I had missed this earlier press
release (April 18th) at SpaceDev.
It includes photos and videos of their hybrid engine that is competing
with eAc to win
the Scaled SS1 propulsion contract (see the eAc press release below.)
Access'03 Review included some SS1 related topics.
Jeff Foust discusses RLV regulations and issues, relevant to the
SS1, brought up at the Space Access'03 meeting : RLV
regulation: licensing vs. certification - The Space Review - Apr.28.03
Rutan's SS1 and regulation questions : Private
Innovation, Public Stagnation by Rand Simberg - FOXNews.com - Apr.25.03
More about SS1 and SpaceDev : A
quest to bring space within reach: Designer betting a reusable winged
rocket just the vehicle - SignOnSanDiego - Apr.29.03.
Aerosciences press release:
Aeroscience Corporation (eAc) announces selection as a team member
providing the hybrid rocket propulsion system for
Burt Rutan’s Manned Space Program
Miami Florida - April 22, 2003
1994, eAc has pioneered the development of nitrous oxide hybrid
propulsion including the first ever sounding rocket flight of
such a system from a NASA launch facility. eAc has been designing,
testing, and flying hybrid rocket motors for tactical missiles,
sounding rockets, and satellite launch applications; and with
this announcement, space tourism. After two years of secret development
with Scaled Composites,
we are proud to announce our involvement as a vendor for the propulsion
system for SpaceShipOne.
We are excited
to have participated in the unveiling of this historic program
on Friday, April 18, 2003. “Even though they are a tiny company
… they’ve fired over a thousand hybrid motors, and that’s why
they were selected,” said Burt Rutan at the event. Korey Kline,
eAc Director of R&D was quoted as saying “These are the Wright
Brothers days of Civilian Space Flight”.
firings at our test facility in Miami were conducted in support
of the SpaceShipOne propulsion system. The experiences of the
South Florida testing allowed eAc to bring to Scaled a functional
and proven system resulting in the efficient execution of the
first successful static test in Mojave. eAc’s forward bulkhead
with the SpaceShipOne oxidizer filling and vent systems was selected
and qualified thru a competition with another vendor and will
be used for all ground and flight testing. The hybrid rocket design
represents the state of the art in low recurring cost nitrous
oxide hybrid propulsion for space tourism applications.
eAc is currently
working on advanced hybrid propulsion developments with AFRL and
DARPA, including the world's smallest orbital launch vehicle,
The MuLV is a safe, responsive, and affordable launch system that
will carry 350-1200lb payloads into low earth orbit. A turbo-pump
fed 30,000 lb thrust common-core booster design is used to lower
development costs. A single motor system is designed and used
for the central booster motor, with a variety of combinations
of strap-on boosters of the same design. The lifting capacity
is determined by this first stage configuration. Developmental
firings include a 16” diameter nitrous hybrid that has produced
11,000 lbs thrust levels. The first series of nine test firings
on this scale have been very successful allowing us to fine-tune
the fuel grain geometry and injector design..
simulations... An Aviation Week reporter takes the SS1
to space and back in this detailed account of his simulator piloting
Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne Simulator - Aviation Week - Apr.21.03
Scaled apparently uses the X-Plane
simulator. See the White
Knight X-Plane simulation at X-Plane.org....
A somewhat more modest SS1 simulation is included in this Java
applet at SpaceTethers.com.
SS1 info ... Jeff Foust writes more about the SS1 rollout-
aims for space: A look at SpaceShipOne - The Space Review - Apr.21.03
In his latest update,
John Carmack comments on the SS1 and how it will affect (or not)
the plans at Armadillo Aerospace for the X PRIZE competition.
has announced that it will begin development of a small launcher
- 1000lb to orbit - based on the hybrid propulsion system developed
for the SpaceShipOne program - SpaceDev
Announces Streaker Launch Vehicle : SpaceDev Propulsion Technology
Spin-offs from SpaceShipOne Program - SpaceDev - Apr.22.03.
development began after it purchased the rights to the AMROC
technology. The company is also developing an orbital transfer “space
tug” for the Air Force called the Maneuvering
and Transfer Vehicle (MTV™) that also uses hybrid propulsion.
press for the SS1... Jon Bonné at MSNBC has written a
couple of excellent articles about Rutan's spaceship (found the
links via Transterrestrial
Musings). The article - Flying
to space: A cockpit view : A trip 62 miles high and back down, all
in 90 minutes - MSNBC - Apr.21.03 - gives a nice overview of
what a flight would be like.
The other article
space race, public hurdles : Regulations may hampter efforts to
prove technology - MSNBC - Apr.21.03 - discusses potential regulatory
roadblocks for suborbital tourism and possible solutions.
Note: I exchanged
some emails with Mr. Bonné a couple of months ago, first
about the Kistler K-1 and then about private suborbital rocket development
and the X PRIZE. He was very skeptical and indicated that he didn't
think there had been much progress since the competition was first
announced back in 1996. He now seems to be much more positive.
Knight on cover of Aviation Week... AW&ST
gives extensive coverage this week to the White Knight and the SpaceShipOne
rollout. Thankfully, they put the long and detailed article online
Spaceship - Aviation Week - Apr.21.03.
Some of the
items from the article include:
- The project
funding comes from an undisclosed source. AW&ST estimates
the project cost at $20-30 million.
- Project development
started as far back as 1996 and the designs went through a number
of modifications over the years. Serious development started when
full funding arrived in April of 2001. They hoped to be flying
by now but development has been slower than expected.
Ed. Note: A common proposition on
the space newsgroups and other forums has been that Rutan was
waiting for the X PRIZE to obtain full funding before he would
start building his vehicle. However, it turns out that he had
started the hardware development long before the purse reached
the $10 million.
- Outside of
the atmosphere attitude, control of the SS1 will come from a "redundant
set of pitch, roll and yaw thrusters powered by 6,000 psi. bottles
of dry air in the cabin." The pressurized air will also
power the feather actuator, defog the windows (fogging has been
a serious problem in ground tests), and maintain the cabin pressure.
- No pressure
suits for the pilot and passengers. "Rutan believes the overbuilt
structure of the cabin provides the same safety backup as a spacesuit."
There are no ejection seats. The crew will need to crank open
the hatch and parachute out.
- They will
carry out a number of test flights that gradually build up to
the 100km altitude. Once the funded test flight phase is done,
Rutan would like to do one flight a week for a few months to determine
operational issues. He estimates an eventual cost of $80k per
Rutan only recently
talked with the FAA about the project. He makes a guess of $100-300
million to certify a craft for regular tourist service. So he is
pessimistic about using the system for space tourism.
I think Burt should talk with Jeff Greason of XCOR and others involved
in the recent Suborbital
Institute campaign on Capitol Hill - Feb.11.03 (see also
Jeff Foust's article : Suborbital
activists go to Washington - Spaceflight Now - Feb.22.03) The
issues of licensing and certification for suborbital vehicles were
at the top of the agenda. Comments from the AST
representatives indicated they were quite aware of how the costs
of unrealistic certification demands might kill the infant industry
in the cradle.
a general recognition by regulators and the Congressional staff
with whom we talked that this brand new flight service can't instantly
meet the same level of safety and reliability that the mature aviation
industry reached after many decades in business. I'm fairly optimistic
that some compromise can be reached. Perhaps the "Accredited
Passenger" concept discussed by Peter Diamandis will
become the basis of such a compromise.
more steps to space - Popular Science - Apr.21.03 ... Rutan
unveils reusable suborbital spacecraft - Spacetoday.net - Apr.19.03
SpaceShipOne info... Funtech Systems of Altamonte Springs,
Florida developed the FTS
- Flight Navigation Unit for the White Knight & SpaceShipOne.
Note that Funtech is also a X PRIZE entry
but has not announced any vehicle development progress....
Lots of articles in various newspapers about the rollout but most
are rehashes of the AP article or the press release. This one from
the LA Daily News provides extra background info: Rutan
unveils privately funded spacecraft - L.A. Daily News - Apr.18.03
taken by Jeff
Foust during the rollout of the White Knight & SpaceShipOne
shoots for the stars with SpaceShipOne
by Jeff Foust
aircraft designer Burt Rutan ended months of speculation Friday
when he publicly unveiled an aircraft and a spacecraft that
together offer what his company calls "the first private manned
event attended by several hundred journalists and invited
guests at the headquarters of Rutan's company, Scaled
Composites, in Mojave, California, Rutan displayed for
the first time both the SpaceShipOne rocket-powered suborbital
vehicle and the White Knight aircraft that will carry it aloft.
Guests of the event ranged from Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin
and Apollo-era spacecraft designer Max Faget to space tourist
Dennis Tito and balloonist Steve Fossett.
fighting laryngitis during his speech, said he is developing
this private spacecraft now in the hopes of igniting a "renaissance"
in spacecraft development similar to the one seen in aviation
between 1909-1912. While by 1908 only the pilots had flown,
by the end of this three-year aviation renaissance hundreds
of aircraft types had been developed and thousands of pilots
had flown. The development of a private suborbital spacecraft
could create a similar renaissance in spaceflight to end the
decades of stagnation in government-run programs, Rutan said.
the concept started back in April 1996, inspired in large
part by the X Prize. Design work started about three and a
half years ago, and full development of both vehicles commenced
in April 2001. The first test flight of the White Knight aircraft
took place on August 1, 2002; photos of that were published
by Aviation Week shortly thereafter, leading to speculation
about Rutan's plans, but the veil of secrecy surrounding the
program remained largely in place until Friday's event.
planned, SpaceShipOne will be carried aloft attached to the
underside of the White Knight. At an altitude of 15,000 meters,
SpaceShipOne will separate, ignite its rocket motor, and go
into a steep climb. The vehicle would achieve a peak speed
of about Mach 3 and climb to an altitude of 100 kilometers.
SpaceShipOne would make a similarly-steep descent before leveling
out at about 24,000 meters and gliding to a runway landing,
less than 70 kilometers downrange from the launch point.
design feature of SpaceShipOne reduces the heating loads of
the vehicle on reentry. Before reentry begins, the vehicle
raises the trailing edge of its wing, along with its twin
tails, to more than a 60-degree angle to the horizontal. This
"carefree" reentry mode, Rutan said, is designed to put the
spacecraft into a "superstable" configuration that is far
more forgiving to trajectory errors than the space shuttle
or the X-15. The wing and tail sections are rotated back to
the horizontal position at 24,000 meters to allow the vehicle
to glide to a landing.
will be powered by a single hybrid-propellant rocket engine,
using nitrous oxide oxidizer and rubber fuel. Much of the
propulsion system will not be developed by Scaled; as Rutan
noted, "we're not rocket scientists here." With propulsion
systems from major engine developers too expensive, and concerned
about putting such a critical system in the hands of a single,
small company, Scaled is instead running a competition. Two
Aerosciences Corporation and SpaceDev,
are each developing and testing engines, one of which will
be selected for use on SpaceShipOne. Rutan would not disclose
when he would select a winning design, but a source with one
of the competing companies said that a decision would likely
come late this year.
for the whole SpaceShipOne flight test program is also shrouded
in secrecy. Rutan hinted that the first phase of the flight
test program, captive carry test flights where SpaceShipOne
is carried aloft under White Knight but not released, would
begin in the very near future, with glide tests taking place
afterwards in the next few months. However, Rutan refused
to disclose any schedule for later flight tests, or even when
the first rocket-powered flight or first flight into space
would take place. Part of that reticence to disclose information,
Rutan explained, is because "we just don't know yet" how many
test flights will be required.
the shroud of secrecy that has surrounded this program prior
to Friday's event will likely remain in place for the foreseeable
future. "We're not going to have any press conferences during
the test regime," Rutan said. Instead, Scaled will post a
monthly summary of the events that took place in the last
month of the test program, but not what is scheduled to take
place in the next month. "We'll tell what we have done, not
what we're going to do," he said.
also left open questions about the long-term status of the
SpaceShipOne program. He made it clear that SpaceShipOne is
not a commercial vehicle, and even though it is an X Prize
competitor there are no plans to sell seats on flights to
paying passengers, or use it for other commercial purposes.
Rutan said he plans to flight test the vehicle to determine
what the cost is to operate it, and possibly use that as the
basis for other vehicles.
also declined to discuss the cost of the program, although
when asked he said that winning the $10 million X Prize would
not allow SpaceShipOne to pay for itself. Scaled documents
provided at the event state that the cost of the program is
projected to be "close to a Soyuz ride", suggesting something
on the order of $20 million. Rutan didn't disclose the source
of his funding, only to say that when he went out to look
for money shortly after starting the program two years ago
he "immediately found it."
while White Knight and SpaceShipOne are definitely private
vehicles, the overall feel for the venture was one that was
far more research and development oriented than commercial.
"Fun is more important that profit," Rutan quipped at one
point. He said his chief motivation was not winning the X
Prize but laying claim to the title of the first private manned
spaceflight, a feat that he hoped would inspire others to
develop vehicles that would inaugurate a renaissance in space
flight similar to the one in aviation. "Even if there's only
a tiny bit of what we did that inspires others," he said,
"then that's everything."
SpaceShipOne info... eAc has posted more info now on
their work to win the hybrid motor contract : eAc
- Environmental Aeroscience - Tier I ...
In the Slashdot
posting about the rollout, John
Carmack responds to the news.
Burt Rutan rolls out
"History's First Private Manned
Knight airborne launcher in a test flight.
in Mojave, California Burt Rutan's Scaled
Composites company rolls out their two stage suborbital
transportation system to compete for the X
PRIZE and to serve the space tourism market. According
to the company:
photo shows the rocket powered second stage -
- slung below the launcher.
Lower photo shows a
event will show not just dreams or mockups in search
of funding, but an extensive two-year-old research program
including all new hardware: airborne launcher, spaceship,
rocket propulsion, avionics, simulator and ground support
Composites, the most prolific research aircraft development
company in the world, is tired of waiting for others
to provide affordable human space access. Active and
hidden for two years, an aggressive, manned sub-orbital
space program has been in work in the Mojave, CA desert.
event is not about dreams, predictions or mockups. We
will show actual flight hardware: an aircraft for high-altitude
airborne launch, a flight-ready manned spaceship, a
new, ground-tested rocket propulsion system and much
more. This is not just the development of another research
aircraft, but a complete manned space program with all
its support elements.
unveiling is not a marketing event. We are not seeking funding
and are not selling anything. We are in the middle of an important
research program - to see if manned space access can be done
by other than the expensive government programs. After the
unveiling, we will go back into hiding to complete the flight
tests and conduct the space flights."
event will include a flight demonstration and opportunity
to inspect and photograph a new, never-seen spaceship"
and present "unique rocket propulsion hardware, conduct
interviews, and [...] a technical Q & A session." Cliff
Robertson will be the MC.
note 1: I received an invitation to this event
(thanks Burt!!) but unfortunately I could not attend. Instead
Jeff Foust of spacetoday.net
took my invitation and will post a report here over the weekend.
With this debut of a privately developed suborbital passenger
transportation system and with the launch by the end of the
year of a privately developed unmanned orbital system at SpaceX,
are we really so far from low cost commercial passenger transportation
to orbit?? Looks like construction of the stairway
to orbit is well underway.
The Scaled site provides a lot of info but it's hard to reach
at the moment due to the posting at Slashdot about the rollout.
However, here are some miscellaneous items from what I was
able to download:
- * The
SpaceShipOne "wings are folded up to provide a shuttle-cock
or "feather" effect to help stabilize the vehicle for reentry."
The "'Care-Free' configuration allows a 'hands-off
reentry and greatly reduces aero/thermal loads.
- * Everything
reusable except they will "replace the fuel casing
and nozzle between high altitude flights."
uses hybrid propulsion with nitrous oxide and rubber propellent
and an ablative nozzle.
and AAE Aerospace are assisting Scaled in making the composite
nitrous tank and case/throat/nozzle.
which entered hybrid
development after buying rights to the technology of
AMROC a few years ago, and Environmental
Aerosciences (parent of Hypertech,
which makes high power rocketry hybirds) are "being
competed" to develop the motor and plumbing components.
picture shows a ground test of the motor system so it seems
fairly far along even though its still "being competed".
design allows for glide landing.
for a 'shirt-sleeve' environment, the 60" [~1.8m] diameter
cabin has a space-qualified ECS [Environmental Control System]
and dualpane windows."
White Knight and SpaceShipOne have identical cockpit and
systems "allowing component flight-qualification testing
and realistic pilot training."
articles & sites:
news in suborbital space development...
Full story at 1:00pm EST. (This
Big news soon with regard to
private space development. Stay tuned....