News briefs... Sci-Fi writer
Robert Sawyer sees aspects of the Salvage
1 program in the SS1 and other private rocket developments:
bottom line at zero gravity by Robert Sawyer - The Globe and Mail
- June.29.04 (via spacetoday.net)...
... An interesting essay appeared
in today's Wall Street Journal that points to the need for the US
government to spare private space development from over-regulation,
especially after the first accident occurs: The
Future of Space Travel . . . by Holma W. Jenkins - WSJ.com - June.30.04
SS1 news... Scaled has posted
page that includes a nice one made by Paul Allen's Vulcan Productions.
Plus there are links to videos at LA Times and MSNBC....
... Check out a big set of
pictures at the Mojave
Pictorial: Two Parties and a Launch - Samizdata.net - Dale Amon
... Irene Klotz, who seems
to be writing a lot on space these days, profiles the Mojave Spaceport
Race II: Paving a new path to space - UPI - June.28.04....
... Sure nice, and very unusual,
to hear a commentator admit he was wrong to ridicule a space project:
St. Louis, spaceflight prize is the X factor - STLtoday - June.28.04
SS1 pictures... Collections
of photos from the SS1 space flight are now available at
News briefs... Derek Webber
predicts that the SS1 flight will be seen as "the true beginning
of the new space era, a turning point for mankind." The
future starts here by Derek Webber - The Space Review - June.28.04
Pickens, who helped design the SS1 propulsion system, says his
company "will build rockets for food.": Madison
man a real rocket entrepreneur: Tim Pickens led propulsion design
for SpaceShipOne - Huntsville Times - June.27.04 (via spacetoday.net)
AW&ST reports on the SS1...
Well, I lost my bet that the SS1 would be on the cover of the next
issue of Aviation Week. Nevertheless, there is a long article describing
the flight and the program. Here are some highlights:
- The left roll that started about 7sec after ignition was due
to a 60kt. wind shear.
- Melvill responded with the rudder and it rolled to the right
but then again to the left until finally leveling about 19secs
after ignition. These "trajectory excursions" reduced
the apogee by about 30k ft.
- Roughly 68 secs after ignition, Melvill began to counter the
effects of nozzle erosion with trim that eventually "hit
the stop, tripping the thermal overload breaker." It needed
3 secs to reset before providing trim control again.
- A left roll occurred over the next 15 secs, a period during
which the engine shut off 76secs after ignition.
- With the trim motor available again he was able to removes some
of the roll and "exit the atmosphere in relative stability."
- Avoiding the trim limits and the 3 sec dead time on future flights
is a priority for the engineers.
- The hurricane-like sound during the Mach 2.9 reentry was the
most frightening segment of the flight for Melvill.
- A glide ratio of 7:1 allowed Melvill easily to reach the desired
runway despite the fact that the accumulated anomalies knocked
him off the target box by 26 miles.
- The fairing under the nozzle that buckled most likely suffered
from heat radiated from the engine. The buckling probably produced
the loud bang that Melvill heard during the flight.
- On the Tonight Show the following day, Rutan told Jay Leno:
- "Right now, I don't care if you're a billionaire, you cannot
buy a ticket [to space] in America"..."A billionaire
can go to Russia and pay $20 million to get one ride. But
Paul Allen, he didn't go over there and get a ride, he took
that money and he sent it to Mojave . . . . Because he did
that we, all of us, are a lot closer to being able to buy
that ticket, and we're damn close."
- Rutan is serious about an orbital vehicle and is currently at
a point similar to where he was "8-9 years ago with the suborbital
100-km. plan--evaluating concepts and doing significant planning."
A second article by Craig Covault talks about the big differences
between suborbital and orbital flight. He quotes Elon Musk:
"SpaceShipOne is a cool and marvelous airplane. But it is an
airplane, not a spacecraft," Musk said. "And many people do not
quite appreciate the magnitude of that difference. In the context
of human rocketry, Rutan is not solving any fundamental problems."
See this article
for alternative views.
The Huntsville Times examines how commercial rocket development
might affect the biggest local employer: Tourism
in space closer to countdown: Private effort unlikely to hurt NASA,
but its expertise is helpful - Huntsville Times - June.27.04
which provided the Flight
Navigation Unit for the SS1, has posted more information about
its other projects. These include its own Aurora
Space Plane entry in the X PRIZE and a 1/10 scale version of
the Aurora called the Research
.... Good selection of SS1
project pictures: Slide
Show for album :: SpaceShipOne, Burt Rutan's entry for the X-Prize
SS1 news ... The NSS offers
a way for you to say Congratulations,
Burt! - Send Congratulations to Burt Rutan!
News briefs ... This report
gives details of the insurance arrangement to fund the X PRIZE purse:
the flight - MSNBC - June.25.04 ...
... Leonard David reports on
the SS1 mission data: SpaceShipOne
Data Shows Vessel Took a 'Trajectory Excursion' - Space.com - June.25.04
SS1 news ... The log
entry for flight 60L/15P has been posted at Scaled Composites.
... The altitude as measured
by the on board GPS system has now been confirmed: Altitude
for SpaceShipOne flight confirmed - L.A. Daily News - June.25.04
(I assume this is from Edwards radar measurements but neither the
article or log says.) ...
... I like this article Spaceship
One-derful by By Tim Worstall -TCS: Tech Central Station - June.25.04
(via HS reader D. Starr). It emphasizes
that it's impossible to predict what new ideas will arise when a
new capability like suborbital spaceflight is proven and which of
them will find a market. Expect to be surprised....
... I'm getting indications
that the other suborbital projects are getting positive spinoffs
from the SS1 flight such as more investor interest and big jumps
in web site traffic.
News briefs ...The Economist
gives an excellent report on the SS1 and the implications for space
tourism and private space enterprise: Manned
spaceflight: The Starship Free Enterprise - Economist.com - June.24.04.
See the discussion at Transterrestrial
...Leonard David reviews future
high tech transportation systems: The
Future of Travel: Aquatic to Cosmic Destinations - space.com - June.23.04
... A new space transport
blog is opened by Derek Lyons: Spaceship
... Alan Boyle reports on
the detailed requirements for the official X PRIZE flights: X
Prize countdown - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - June.24.04
Systems shows the Flight
Navigation Unit (FNU) model that flew on the SS1 and containd
GPS and ring laser gyro systems to provide "full six degree
of freedom navigation, guidance, and flight control data."...
... I missed quite a party
it seems: Space
Commodity - LA Weekly - June.25.04 ...
... Another cool cartoon: Heh
An SS1 report from Jeff Foust,
who attended the launch, discusses the problems encountered: SpaceShipOne
makes history — barely -
The Space Review - June.24.04....
... Andrew Case notes
that at a dinner last night with Jeff, Pat Bahn, Phil Smith, and
myself one topic of discussion was how important the pilot had been
in saving the vehicle during the flight test program. This is a
whole new type of vehicle and problems during testing should be
expected. The adaptability and experience of the pilots have been
crucial in keeping the program on track....
... When the SS1 was first
introduced last year, Burt Rutan indicated that after the initial
flight test program was completed he would like to fly the vehicle
regularly over a long period to prove the robustness and reliability
of the system. I don't know if this is still in his plans but I
think it's a great idea. For space tourism to be practical and available
to as big a market as possible, the vehicles will need to fly many
times between major overhauls and will need to operate with minimal
costs. Demonstrating this would be another huge contribution to
the creation of this industry by the SS1. (Actually the current
SS1 should go to the Smithsonian and a duplicate used for operations
The final frontier, or there abouts...
Jeff also talks
about the arbitrariness of the 100km altitude as the "boundary
to space." He points to an interesting
page at the FAI that recounts the history of the 100km "Karman
line", which was invented by a group led by the famous Theodore
von Karman to protect aeronautical records for speed and altitude
from the performances of spacecraft.
Seth Shostak of the SETI Instiute discusses the space border issue
Final Frontier: Where Does it Really Begin? By Seth Shostak - Space.com
- June.24.04. There's also some background here in the Advance
Rocketry Records section.
Spacedev's rockets are dicussed
in this aarticle: SpaceDev
Rockets In To Space With Paul Allen's Team - CNNMoney/DJ Newswires
- June.22.04. Note that it briefly reports on Richard Branson's
space plans near the end. (Item via HS
reader J. Roche.)
Apparently the motors could come down significantly in price: "Benson
further said his motor is priced low enough not to hinder a tour
operator from one day offering space travel tickets for $10,000
There's also this PR from SpaceDev: SpaceDev
Technology Powers SpaceShipOne In History Making Flight to Create
World’s First Private Sector Astronaut - SpaceDev - June.21.04
More SS1 News... Alan Boyle
provides an interesting perspective on the flight and the aftermath:
meet the stars - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - June.23.04
... Dwayne Day argues that
suborbital spaceflights will finally make a space themed reality
show a viable proposition: The
reality space race - The Space Review - June.21.04 ...
... At spacetoday.net
there are two or three dozen links to SS1 flight related articles
and editorials. Seems that the significance of the event is starting
to sink in....
... Looks like the Cosmopolis
suborbital project still hasn't gotten past the mockup stage: Russian
suborbital spaceship being developed - Interfax - June.22.04
... Melvill sure seems to be
a very open and talented fellow: At
One Point, 'I Was Deathly Afraid,' New Space Visitor Admits - NY
Times - June.23.04. See the poignant picture of him and his
wife just before the flight in this CS
Latest SS1 news... The X
PRIZE Space Race News has a big set of links including videos
at BBC for the whole broadcast (52min
Real Audio) and for the flight (1min
50 sec Real Audio). The latter includes shots from the SS1 in
... A wild bet says Aviation
Week will show the SS1 on its next cover: SpaceShipOne
Makes First Private Suborbital Space Flight - Aviation Now - June.22.04....
... The Canadian
Arrow team is inspired now to go fly to space as well: U.S.
rocket launch spurs Canadian's hopes - CTV.ca - June.22.04
Spaceship development as it should be...
Aren't "reusable" (I'll have to drop that word soon) rocket
vehicles great? You get to test incrementally and to fix problems
as they appear with each expansion of the envelope. Just look at
the SS1 experience as given by the Test
Log. There were lots of minor problems encountered, and several
serious ones as well, but the team overcame each one in a systematic
For example, during the drop test of flight 37L/06G, the vehicle
unexpectedly pitched up and wouldn't respond to the controls ("stall
entry maneuver resulted in an un-commanded nose rise"). The
pilot eventually regained control and managed to land safely. By
employing a "Bubba wind tunnel" with a Ford-250
pickup truck (see Ground
Test Log) the team "validated several aerodynamic fixes
to solve the tail stall problem" and the following flight went
The first powered flight on December 17th 2004 also went well until
the landing when "touchdown caused the left main gear to collapse
and the vehicle rolled to a stop off the runway in the soft sand."
made by Alan Radecki.) I can't find any details but I believe there
were some hardware mods and changes in the approach procedure to
prevent this from happening again.
In Monday's flight there was a serious failure of the flight control
system but a backup allowed the pilot to continue and to complete
a successful mission. (A dent in a fairing around the nozzle looks
to be a less serious problem.) While this has delayed the announcement
of the X PRIZE flights, no doubt this problem will also be solved
presently. I'm sure there will also be improvements made throughout
the vehicle based on the data from the flight.
To airplane builders, of course, this is all typical of the normal,
everyday incremental testing procedure for a new vehicle design.
Sure is nice to find here at the start of the 21st century that
a spaceship is finally being developed in this manner as well.
Special Report: Joan
Horvath sent in this first hand report on the SpaceShipOne flight:
Dateline Mojave, June 21, 2004
By the time you read this all the facts and figures and details
will have been laid out for you by the major media. I'm sure,
though, that the readers of this website are also interested in
an answer to the simple question: what was it like to BE there?
I was fortunate enough to be in the press area, due to some other
projects of mine, and so these observations are both on the event
itself and also on some of the reaction of the "mainstream" media
to the concept of entrepreneurial space.
Sunday, June 20: Flight Eve
The heat (and a slightly nervous anticipation) made Sunday a
fairly subdued day, much more so than I was expecting. People
were excited, but also reflective (photo top) as was this a space
fan thinking her own thoughts while looking out over a Mojave
BTW: Joan will be on the
Space Show this Sunday, June 27, 12-1:30pm Pacific Time. See
Show Newsletter for a biography of Joan. Tune in online at Live365.
SS1 flight details... Here's
a lengthy and interesting article by William Harwood - SpaceShipOne
rockets into history by William Harwood - Spaceflight Now - June.21.04
... I heard a remark from Burt
Rutan on TV that a space tourist vehicle should go to 150km instead
of 100km so as to provide a longer period of weightlessness. Also,
he thinks each passenger should have a big window to privde a really
More SS1.... Nice sets of pictures
- Alan's Mojave Airport Weblog - June.21.04 and MSNBC
- Private rocket ship breaks space barrier....
... A personal log of the event
Space Ship One Launch - The Interocitor (Kevin Murphy) - June.21.04
... News reports:
Armadillo Aerospace had one
of those learning experience type of days: Good
intentions, bad results - Armadillo Aerospace - June.20.04
Armadillo Aerospace had one
of those learning experience type of days: Good
intentions, bad results - Armadillo Aerospace - June.20.04
19:45 Even more SS1.... Leonard
David reports on the technical problems that occurred during the
Makes History with First Manned Private Spaceflight - Space.com...
... Mike Melvill took some
memorabilia and M&Ms to the space today., according to Robert
Pearlman of collectSpace. Robert also provides some pictures of
the event: Private
spacecraft to launch June 21 - collectSpace
17:10: More SS1... Pictures
from Mojave from Michael Mealling of Rocketforge....
... Now I understand the Tier
Rutan made an "allusion to the Tier 3 orbital space-vehicle
program that he is reportedly involved in. The SpaceShipOne program
is known as Tier 1, and Tier 2 would be a tour-bus-like version
of the same concept, a vehicle capable of carrying up to 10 passengers
on suborbital space flights." - SpaceShipOne
Soars - Popular Science ...
... Buy your SS1 souvenirs
Licensed SpaceShipOne Merchandise - t-shirts, posters and more!
... Scaled press release: SpaceShipOne
Makes History: First Private Manned Mission to Space
16:45: A robust little spaceship...
Despite some fairly serious problems, the SS1 succeeded in its mission
today. During the news conference Rutan said
about the flight control system failure that "The anomaly we had
today is the most serious flight system safety problem we have had
in the entire program".
Plus there was "a roll of the rocket plane during its ascent"
and then "an unexpected booming sound." This "was
apparently caused by the buckling of a fairing that was added to
the rocket plane's engine nozzle for this record-setting flight."
They had hoped to set a date for the X PRIZE flights but Rutan
said "SpaceShipOne would not fly again until the source of
the flight control problem was identified and fixed."
13:50: Spaceflight Now has
from the news conference:
- Apogee was 100.1241 km
- That makes "Mike Melvill an astronaut" and he received
his commemorative wings in a ceremony during the news conference.
- A control system malfunction caused the SS1 "to miss its
reentry box by 22 miles."
12:45 Faring damage... Jeff
that "The vehicle suffered some minor damage during the flight
when a fairing near the engine nozzle partially collapsed, leaving
a large dent on the underside of the vehicle." Melvill mentioned
a loud bang durng the return. I assume this is related to that....
... I've seen estimates of
crowd size of around 10k-15k. Less than the big number speculations
but not bad for an event that started at 6:30 on a Monday morning
in the middle of the desert.
12:25: Fast turnaround... In
this pre-flight report - Prelude
to history? - The Space Review - June.21.04 , Jeff Foust reported
on comments made at a news conference on Sunday. Hightlights include:
- The May flight to 40 miles was more risky and settled crucial
questions, particularly about the feathered reentry. Rutan said,
"I believe the risks we face tomorrow are small compared
to the risks we took in May.”
- With regard to subsequent flights, they believe the turnaround
time for the SS1 "will be well under one week, they should
be able to make three flights during the two-week window required
to perform two flights to win the $10-million prize."
- The SS1 rocket has power to spare. Burt "said that if Melvill
doesn’t turn off the engine Monday at the specified time, the
vehicle would fly to nearly 130 kilometers."
- No passengers in the near future. Continued testing and flight
- "Rutan noted that he and Allen formed a company, Mojave
Aerospace, which actually owns the intellectual property associated
- Rutan expects a "barnstorming" phase of passenger
flights at $100k per seat in the near future but " a mature
space tourism industry" will need ticket prices in the $30k-50k
range that would come with second gen vehicles.
- He will be presenting a new model design soon.
- Rutan also said “we’re heading for orbit sooner than you think.”
12:10 More SS1:
to Mike Melvill.
and Lands Safely!
10:55: Rocket firing complete. Latest
word from pilot is that things are going good.
Now is providing regular text updates.
10:30: Finally got a stream via
BBC - news.bbc.co.uk.
So far things are looking good.
9:50: Takeoff just occurred.
Happened a few minutes later than scheduled. I've not been able
to connect to any of the streamed broadcasts. Guess there are lots
of people all over the world trying to connect.
Thankfully, all three cable networks are doing fairly good coverage.
Though during the one hour ascent to 50k feet they will be switching
to other news.
9:37: Rand says the
went on through the night at the Mojave airport.
2:45 SS1 blogging.. Rand
Simberg will be blogging from Mojave.
1:35: News briefs... I've
been disappointed not to see very much written yet about last week's
Challenges Workshop. Here, though, is a short but nice report:
Challenges Workshop Summary - Space Race News! - Jan.20.04...
... John Carmack and Ron Milburn
Aerospace have been responding to questions at the Official
Armadillo Q&A thread.
1:25am: Canadian Arrow news... The
X PRIZE team Canadian
Arrow is showing a picture of their vehicle on their home page
with the statement that they will "start test flights this
August." They also have updated the pages on their Space
test stand (that's a good sized engine), and propulsion.
1:15am: Countdown at Space.com
1:10am: The Space Show -
Mojave update... David Livingston has arranged to broadcast
the even with John McKnight in Mojave and David in San Francisco:
Show plans to begin the streaming broadcast of this event
between 5:30 - 5:45AM [Pacific TIme 8:30-8;45 EDT] Monday, June
21. The actual take-off of the carrier plane, White Knight, is
scheduled for 6:30am EDT. Space Ship One breaks free of White
Knight about an hour later, ignites its rocket engine and then
travels to 62 miles (100 kilometers). The entire flight to landing
of both Space Ship One and White Knight should take approximately
90 minutes from the initial take-off of White Knight.
As our reporter in the field, John Carter McKnight, will be using
a cell phone, we will be going back and forth to John during this
time as events are unfolding and to allow us to conserve cell
phone battery power to take us through the entire launch and landing
Updated information will be posted to this site approximately
11:30PM PDT on Sunday, June 20th. Space Show listeners are welcome
to contact email@example.com
with any questions or comments you might have about this special
live broadcast of the Space Ship One launch. All efforts will
be made to respond to any e-mail questions prior to the Sunday
night update per above. In addition, while streaming this live
broadcast, The Space Show will continue to accept chat comments,
questions and feedback from the listeners at "spaceshowchat" for
those with IM and ICQ.
SS1 updates: Long lists of
articles are available at spacetoday.net
and X PRIZE Space
Race News. Here is a sample:
SS1 updates: More articles
collected from spacetoday.net,
X PRIZE Space
Race News, and elsewhere:
home page says "There are 500 media representatives signed
up to cover Monday's event."
to historic space trip - BBC - June.19.04 - long article about
Private Spaceflight: Historical Milestone or Stunt Flying? - Space.com
- June.19.04 - Sounds similar to a typical headline from 1977:
"Apple II: A computng milestone or a toy?"
Soaring Toward Tomorrow - Space.com - compilation of articles
on the event.
Guide to Monday's First Piloted Private Space Flight - Space.com
- info on viewing in Mojave or from elsewhere
pushes envelope on space tourism - Seattle PI - June.19.04
- I didn't know Kistler was involved with the X PRIZE:
Another local X Prize supporter who will be down there applauding
the Rutan-Allen team is Walter Kistler. The retired founder
of Redmond-based Kistler Aerospace is one of the major donors
funding the award. His company has struggled financially but
it stubbornly persists in its attempt to make re-usable rockets
Kistler, a Swiss-born scientist who at age 16 burned off his
eyebrows while making rocket fuel on the family stove, said
private industry must jump with both feet into space. "The only
way this is going to happen is if entrepreneurs do it," he said.
to edge of space: Civilian pioneers prepare for launch - Toronto
Star - June.19.04 - I like this part:
Many of those counting down to Monday's 6:30 a.m. (PDT) launch
believe this flight could be the thin edge of the wedge that
opens the very heavens to private enterprise. And, ultimately,
opens them to you.
"That's right, you — the person reading this sentence,
at this precise moment, wearing exactly what you've got on.
Business implications of the
flight are discussed in Final
Frontier: Private Enterprise Counts Down For Space Travel - Investor's
Business Daily - June.21.04 (via spacetoday.net)
... And the flight seems to
be boosting SpaceDev: SpaceDev
Shares Soar Along With SpaceShipOne - SANDIEGO.COM - June.18.04
(via X PRIZE
Space Race News).
Mojave spaceport ... More about
the licensing: New
spaceport set for milestone mission by Alan Boyle - MSNBC - June.18.04.
Free live stream from MSNBC
for the full hour and half mission time! Just got the
word from Alan
Boyle. Not yet clear if the TV coverage will span the whole
period but the streaming should be a better anyway since it will
be devoted to the mission while the network TV will be jumping back
and forth with other news.
News briefs... Alan does his
own survey of space tourism interests: Who
wants to go to space? - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - June.18.04 ...
... Latest weblog updates from
Alan Radecki at BoingBoing: Reports
for June 18th. ...
... Alan has also posted pictures
of the celebrations for the spaceport licensing. (Via X
PRIZE Space Race News).
The Space Show in Mojave... The
with substitute host John Carter McKnight will provide a live webcast
on the internet at www.live365.com/stations/dlivingston?site=dlivingston.
[Regular host David Livingston had a prior commitment.]
In addition, an additional streaming site has been provided Space
Show listeners by Jeff Birk at Pioneer Radio in the UK. The tentative
URL for this additional site is usa.rolo.net:8008/listen.pls.
Further details will be available over the weekend on the Space
Show Newsletter page.
Webcast coverage... Looks like
there will be an alternative to CNN (especially if it has to cover
some other breaking story.) Just got this message from Robert Burmeister:
I called KLOA FM and they told me that the City of Ridgecrest
will be providing one hour of audio webcast for the Burt Rutan
By the end of day Friday, the link will be posted at www.kloafm.com
KLOA FM (Thunder Country 104.9) has exclusive rights to the audio
for the flight. This will also include the audio coming from the
cockpit during the flight.
SS1 updates... More articles:
Race II: A 'private' astronaut - UPI - June.18.04 - profile
of Peter Diamandis
rocket aims for the stars: SpaceShipOne flight heralds attempt
on $10-million X prize. - Nature - June.19.04 - Maybe if the
mainstream science journals start to take suborbital space transport
seriously, I can finally get some intelligent responses from the
scientists to whom I've sent queries as to how they might use
such vehicles for their research. Generally, most scientists (with
some welcomed exceptions) need confirmation and validation from
their peers before they will make the effort to examine something
as radical as manned suborbital.
First Private Manned Space Mission Set To Blast Off - Radio Free
Europe/ Radio Liberty - June.18.04 - John Pike finally gets
to put in his two cents. (Actually, that vastly exaggerates the
value of his opinion on space transport.)
space travel next leap for mankind? Private manned flight test
may launch new era in aviation - CNN.com - Jun 18, 2004
Secret: Who Will Fly SpaceShipOne? - Space.com - June.18.04
It's now official and they
have the license to prove it:
America's First Inland Spaceport Launch Site
Operator License # LSO 04 009
(Item via Aleta Jackson.)
Update: 5:55pm: Ready
for Historic Launch: FAA Grants Mojave Airport First Inland Spaceport
License - Space.com - June.18.04
SS1 updates... Here are some
links I gathered mostly from spacetoday.net:
SS1 updates... Looks like there
will even be quite a few people going to Mojave a few days before
the launch. For example, the popular Boing
Boing web log has a poster who has arrived in Mojave and will
be sending reports on happenings up to the day of the launch: Special
BoingBoing report: Live from SpaceShip One - June.17.04 * Boing
Boing: SpaceShipOne blog, part two ...
... Jeff Foust in this Space
Politics posting points out the editorial in yesterday's Christian
Science Monitor that advocates tax breaks to encourage development
of private space transport: Tax
Breaks for Private Spaceships - csmonitor.com - June.16.04.
Today there was also this article: Out
on the Mojave: space shot for the common man - csmonitor.com - June.17.04
... Here's an article in Wired:
Folks to Kiss the Sky - Wired News - June.17.04
SS1 updates... MSNBC offers
this page - The
New Space Race - which holds links to its articles on the SS1
and other X PRIZE related events...
... Scaled Composites has nicely
revamped its SS1 web pages, which are entitled: Tier
One: Private Manned Space Program....
... Profile of the SpaceShipOne
Rutan: Aviation pioneer - BBC - June.17...
... Cruising to space and then
Cruises Hosts Aviation Legend on Heels of Historic Space Flight
- Celebrity Cruises - June 16.04 (via Alan
Boyle and Robert Pearlman)
Destination Mojave ... To complete
our rush to the future, I suggest that when the SS1 spaceman emerges
from his exotic looking rocketship he have this ray
gun strapped to his belt.
SS1 flight memorabilia could
become a top collectable for space enthusiasts according to Robert
Pearlman of collectSpace.
He tells Alan Boyle - Space
race update - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - June.16.04 -
"The appeal of philatelic material or other collectibles (mini
SS1 models, medallions, patches, etc.), not to mention any piece
of the actual craft that is expendable/replaceable, will be of
interest to space collectors..."
Perhaps Laura Wiggins of ToSpace
has arranged for a payload. At SA
' 04 she reported that she had so far put collectibles
on one high altitude unmanned rocket flight and was looking to charter
more rides. (I expect she also had a payload on the CSXT
amateur record altitude flight in May.)
... More flight updates:
Mojave space extravaganza...
Via a Mojavian comes this local report on preparations for the SS1
flight event next Monday: SpaceShipOne
preping for space - AV Press - June.16.04 (short-lived link.)
- "Organizers are preparing for 30,000 visitors"
- "On the day of the flight's announcement, the Scaled Composites
Web site received millions of queries"
- "Hotels in Mojave are already booked solid, with rooms
filling up in more distant communities such as Lancaster."
- "A camping area has been cleared to park 250 self-contained
recreational vehicles, with campers allowed to enter the grounds
beginning Saturday night. Reservations are required for these
$40 spots, and they are filling fast. As of Tuesday afternoon,
160 spots remained."
- "Already, "space groupies" have requested permission for
a concert in the camping area Sunday night, adding to the festival-like
atmosphere." [Maybe this is the rave that Leonard David referred
- "Ridgecrest radio station KLOA 104.9 FM will provide a
play-by-play broadcast of the flight and traffic reports for those
heading to the airport."
- "For those unable to attend, the flight will be covered
live by numerous broadcasters, including CNN and the national
networks. Some 400 different media outlets from around the world
are expected to cover the event, Rice said." - [I hope Alan
Boyle is planning to broadcast on MSNBC.]
News briefs... This report
on National Public Radio - Race
for Private Space Craft - NPR - June.15.04 - puts too much emphasis
on the need for a magic technology to reduce LEO launch costs. One
interviewee does point out the need for lowering labor and operations
costs but there's no mention of high flight rates as the real key
to making this happen.
News briefs... Alan Boyle comments
on the economics of commercial space tourism: Space
race economics - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - June.15.04...
... Via Alan's site, here is
a free reprint of yesterday's WSJ article: Private
Space Mission Is Ready for Takeoff - SFGate/WSJ.com - June.14.04
Lots of SS1 articles out today
included several forwarded to me by HS
CNN will broadcast the SS1 flight
according to an update
on the Scaled Composites site. (Via HS
reader R. Burmeister)
The NY Times reports on the
SS1 flight: Private
Space Travel? Dreamers Hope a Catalyst Will Rise From the Mojave
Desert - New York Times - June.14.04
... And t he NY Post reports
on Paul Allen: Rocket
Booster - New York Post - June.13.04
Front page SpaceShipOne article in
the Washington Post is quite interesting: A
Rocket Flight for the Common Man? Leader in Private Space Race Predicts
New Era of Tourism - Washington Post - June.12.04. It includes
"Rutan, who gained widespread renown in 1986 when his Voyager
became the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe without
refueling, estimates that commercial suborbital flights could
cost $30,000 to $50,000 'initially,' and as little as $7,000 to
$12,000 in a 'second generation.'"
The $30k-50k is the lowest price range I've seen for a first generation
The article also mentions other competitors like the da
Vinci project and it discusses the X
PRIZE and the prize approach to motivating lower cost space
development as with the Centennial
Challenge program at NASA....
... Commentator Jake Halpern
says his grandfather, who was an early space tourist enthusiast,
would have been thrilled with the SS1: The
First Commercial Space Flight: Commentary by Jake Halpern - National
Public Radio - June.11.04.(via spacetoday.net)...
... Alan Boyle notes that the
SS1 spaceflight shapes up to be milestone event in at least three
for space stars - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - June.11.04.
More Virgin news... This is
a longer article about Branson's space interests: Branson
reaches for the stars - Guardian Unlimited - June.10.04 (via
X PRIZE Space
Race News).But there are no details on what exactly he is planning
to announce. Looks like he is timing it according to the SS1 flight.
Virgin space tourism... Richard
Branson has apparently been involved in other activities in Mojave
besides the Global
Hopes to Offer Tourist Space Flights - Scotsman - June.10.04.(Link
via Ken Schweitzer).
I remember years ago that he talked about pursuing space projects
but no news since. Now it sounds like he has something real to announce.
No NSS raving... I've been
infomed that there will not, in fact, be a NSS sponsored rave at
Mojave on the eve of the SS1 flight as Leonard reported.
[Though it sounds like a good idea to me!] If you are looking for
space raves in the desert, you might contact these
News briefs... Leonard David
reports on the space fest developing in Mojave for the SS1 flight:
Prepares to Make Space History - Space.com - June.10.04...
... An excellent article about
the SS1 and the X PRIZE, and also XCOR: Space
Cowboys - LA CityBEAT / Valley BEAT - June.10.04 (via X
PRIZE Space Race News).
News briefs... Leonard David
reports on the space fest developing in Mojave for the SS1 flight:
Prepares to Make Space History - Space.com - June.10.04...
... An excellent article about
the SS1 and the X PRIZE, and also XCOR: Space
Cowboys - LA CityBEAT / Valley BEAT - June.10.04 (via X
PRIZE Space Race News).
More SS1 models... Check out
ShipOne and Carrier Aircraft resin model kit at Unicraft
Models. There is also the Scaled
Composites SpaceShipOne paper model at Currel
News briefs... Jeff Foust notes
that the SS1 may inspire considerably more excitement about space
with the general public than what NASA is able to do: "We
all wanted to go" - Space Politics - June.8.04
A SpaceShipOne article in the
Week is quite interesting but unfortunately not available on
line without a subscription. Here are some highlights:
- The June 21st flight will carry out a full-duration 80-sec burn
of the engine.
- The speed should reach Mach 3.5. Peak equivalent airspeed, however,
will not exceed the previous flight since the air pressure will
drop so much.
- The engine will use a larger nozzle that has not flown before.
- The engine will undergo higher temperatures, higher speed, and
lower dynamic pressure at burnout.
- The previous two flights carried full fuel loads but the liquid
nitrous oxide was turned off early to terminate the burn.
- A ground firing flowed oxidizer for 100-sec. This consumed all
of the fuel plus some of the phenolic liner and caused even the
outer casing made of carbon fiber/epoxy to start smoking but it
didn't result in a burn through.
- The new nozzle provides a larger expansion ratio needed for
good thrust and efficiency at the higher altitudes. This means,
however, that it hasn't been tested on the ground since the higher
atmospheiric pressure causes flow to separate from the walls and
- Sensors and temperature-sensitive paint indicated in the last
flight that temperatures were a bit lower than expected. None
of the thermal protection coating was damaged. (This photo
shows the red TPS coatings.)
- In the June 21 flight, however, it is expected that the coating
will be damaged and need replacement before the next flight.
- The last flight did a supersonic reentry, reaching Mach 1.9
in feather mode.
- Mike Melvill manually damped oscillations in feather mode. The
oscillations may have been due to sloshing in the tank but in
the June 21 flight all the oxidizer will be burned.
- Asymmetries in the thrust due to possible erosion in the nozzle
near the end of the burn could be difficult to compensate since
the very low pressure provides weak control authority. The cold
gas attitude control thrusters are "very weak compared to
a conventional surface biting into thick air."
- "The computational fluid dynamics says it is OK but the
pilot will be earning his salary."
- In the last flight the instrument display went dark about one
third of the way through the rocket firing. Nevertheless, Melvill
was able to navigate by viewing the horizon through the windows
and still reached the target altitude. The problem is believed
to have been caused by a potentiometer affected by the acceleration
and has been fixed.
News briefs... A good article
on the SS1 and private space development: Space
Race II: Not NASA's space program - UPI - June.7.04
SS1 briefs... Jeff Foust is
interviewed in this article: Paul
Allen's SpaceShipOne Sets Date with Space - Technology News - June.3.04.
The following articles have a few tidbits of info not included in
the many other articles (e.g. see the news list at spacetoday.net)
that mostly repeat the Scaled Composites press
SS1 & the X PRIZE race... Alan
Boyle finds that other teams are not throwing in the towel on the
X PRIZE: Handicapping
the Space Race - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - June.2.04. Even after this
flight, the SS1 will still need to prove that it can carry an additional
200kg to 100km. Nevertheless, the SS1 is obviously running fast
coming into the home stretch....
... See also Alan's updated
flight set for private spaceship: SpaceShipOne due for suborbital
space shot June 21 - MSNBC - June.2.04 and comments at The
Date Is Set - Transterrestrial Musings - June.2.04 ...
... Depending on how much press
attention it gets, I think the number of observers in Mojave on
June 21 could span a wide range from a low of a few tens of thousands
to a high of a few hundred thousand. It's short notice but the space
advocate groups should get involved and promote this event like
crazy, especially within California. Somebody, for example, should
get Kristoph Klover to come down the night before and sing some
space songs like Witnesses'
Waltz to the happy campers....
... Note that for those considering
attending the event, the SS1
FAQ has a lot of travel info....
... Rand Simberg has been
after to me to change the name of this page from RLV News
to Space Transport News. Not quite ready to do that but I
will promise to refer to the SS1 missions as "flights"
rather than "launches". I suggest that all you alt.spacers
out there take the pledge as well. Time that we transition out of
thinking of spaceflight as a series of one-offs and start thinking
in terms of spaceship departures and arrivals instead.
Scaled Composites is going for it...
Space Launch Attempt Scheduled for June 21
Paul G. Allen and Burt Rutan Announce Plans for
First Non-Government, Privately Funded Manned Space Flight
- Scaled Composites - June.2.04
... Leonard David reports:
Spacecraft's Inaugural Launch Set for June 21 - Space.com - June.2.04
News brief... Spacedev takes
a bow: SpaceDev
Propels SpaceShipOne Close to Outer Space Third Powered Flight Sets
New Records - Spacedev PR - May.18.04
News briefs... The X PRIZE
Foundation confirmed to Alan Boyle that it will provide a 60 day
announcement prior to any official X PRIZE flights. So that precludes
the July 4, 17th dates for the SS1 as some had speculated: Next
flight to space - Alan Boyle: Cosmic Log - May.17.04
[Update: I mistakenly wrote originally that Scaled Composites
gave Alan the 60 day info.] ....
... Check out this perspective
on the SS1: Spaceship
One - a Historical Perspective - A.E.Brain - May.17.04 (via
Video of the SS1 flight is
available without a required registration at this site: Rocket
Reaches the Edge of Space - Hampton Daily Press/LA Times - May.14.04
The ride may be suborbital but it sure looks like spaceflight to
me! And there's still another 40 miles ahead. For people who have
the money, these kind of trips are going to be irresistable, even
if they do only last a few minutes.
This SS1 article includes comments
from Jeff Foust of spacetoday.net
Cofounder Paul Allen's Private Rocket Soars - TechNewsWorld - May.14.04
SS1 updates...CNN report includes
pictures and video: Private
spaceship sets altitude record: Firm is competing for the $10 million
X Prize - CNN - May.13.04:
"Shortly after his flight, a very excited Melvill told CNN
that seeing the sky go from blue to black was the thrill of his
"'I feel great, it was fabulous. I would pay a million dollars
to do that again,' he said."
... Exciting summer ahead:
Capital Venture, Rocket Reaches the Edge of Space In bid for prize,
craft designed by Burt Rutan goes where no private craft has gone
before. - LA Times - May.14.04 (via spacetoday.net):
"'You just can't imagine what a thrill it was. I had tears
in my eyes,' Rutan said as the winged rocket glided back to Earth
and made a picture-perfect landing at the airport here. 'It creates
a path for the rest of us to go into space.'
...Rutan said he hopes to go after the prize this summer. 'With
today's flight, much of the major technical challenges have been
overcome,' he said. 'It's just a matter of going higher with more
More SS1 flight news... Sure
hope that Scaled eventually posts the videos from the powered flights
in addition to the stills: Ecliptic's
RocketCam(TM) Integral to Private Suborbital Venture - PR Newswire
- May.13.04 (via spacetoday.net)...
... Several people pointed
out in the Scaled press release (see below) the statement, "We
will be sending you advance notice of a media event at Scaled very
soon." This may refer to the 30 day notification before a 100km
official flight that is required by rule 6 in the X
PRIZE guidelines. Got a feeling there will be quite a crowd
heading to Mojave to watch each of the two flights.
Scaled has posted the flight
Launch conditions were 46,000 feet and 120 knots. Motor light
off occurred 10 seconds after release and the vehicle boosted
smoothly to 150,000 feet and Mach 2.5. Subsequent coast to apogee
of 211,400 feet. During a portion of the boost, the flight director
display was inoperative, however the pilot continued the planned
trajectory referencing the external horizon. Reaction control
authority was as predicted and the vehicle recovered in feather
experiencing 1.9M and 3.5G’s.Feather oscillations were actively
damped by the pilot and the wing was de-feathered starting at
55,000 feet. The onboard avionics was re-booted and a smooth and
uneventful landing made to Mojave.
Scaled press release:
This morning, the SpaceShipOne team completed another successful
test of key systems on the SpaceShipOne reusable launch vehicle
(RLV) and its carrier aircraft, White Knight. SpaceShipOne achieved
212,000 feet [64.6km] this morning. This flight marks an additional
milestone for Paul G. Allen, Burt Rutan and the innovative aerospace
design team in their ongoing efforts to complete the first non-government
manned space flight. The test is part of Scaled Composites' Tier
One program, funded by Allen, Microsoft co-founder and CEO of
The SpaceShipOne team will announce the results of this test
flight once it has completed an analysis of the data. Look for
this information under the Test Updates tab. Information on any
future flights will also be provided on the web site, www.scaled.com.
We encourage you to check this page frequently for updates. We
will be sending you advance notice of a media event at Scaled
Thanks for your interest in our project. The future's looking
up...way up! SpaceShipOne Team
SS1 update... Scaled posts
note on the flight. They will report later after analysis of
... Leonard David has got more
Rocket SpaceShipOne Makes Third Rocket-Powered Flight - Space.com
- May.13.04. Reached >200k feet ( 61km) - more than halfway
to the X PRIZE altitude. [Posted at 1:15pm] ...
... SS1 landed safely - couple
of sonic booms produced during the flight. [Posted at 12:45pm] ...
... Heard that the White Knight/SS1
combo was spotted on the Mojave runway a little while ago. [Posted
Space transport on paper...
While no one is selling personal RLVs yet, you can now make one
at home and all you need is some stiff paper, an exacto knife, and
white glue. Ralph Currell is offering free
Card models for the Scaled
Composites SpaceShipOne and the Japanese RVT
Reusable Rocket Vehicle. The models look very nice - SS1
gallery and RVT
gallery. See Card
models - an introduction for the basics of paper modelling.
(See also the Card
Modelling FAQ and the Paper
Models section here.)
News brief... Via X
Prize Space Race News comes this item in which Brian Binnie
describes the December flight fot he SS1: StarShipOne
pilot keynotes awards lunch - DCMilitary.com - Apr.29.04.
Noticing private space ... This
Private Citizens Aim to Make Space Public Domain - FOXNews.com -
Apr.18.04 - reviews a range of private space projects in a generally
favorable light. However, as noticed by one blogger - Print
Media Reaction to SpaceShipOne and ISS Tourism - Jay Manifold -
Apr.11.04 (via Transterrestrial
Musings) there really wasn't much publicity about the most recent
dramatic advance in private space development - the second
SS1 powered flight.
On the other hand, that flight was overlapped by a lot of publicity
on the licensing
of the SS1. Also, the worsening Iraq situation dominated the news.
I expect that as the coming flights get higher and closer to the
X PRIZE flights, the press and public awareness will rise considerably.
its second rocket powered flight April
Taken from chase aircraft video. See two
other flight photos.
News briefs... Leonard David
on the latest SS1 flight: Data
Released On Second SpaceshipOne Rocket Test Flight - Space.com -
News briefs... SpaceDev reports
on the performance of its hybrid rocket in the recent SS1
Powers SpaceShipOne to New Heights - SpaceDev/Yahoo PR - Apr.14.04
SS1 flight test report has
now been posted on the Scaled Composites
test data page. Except for a brief delay in firing the rocket
"to evaluate a shock induced stall buffet" everything
went as planned and the vehicle performed very well.
SS1 flight article gives an
excellent first hand report on the flight: Rutan
group rockets toward X-Prize: SpaceShipOne's flawless test has team
closer to $10 million Antelope Valley Press - Apr.9.04 (Note:
Avpress links are short lived unfortunately) - Link via a HS
reader in Mojave.
The article includes several interesting comments, including:
- "After nearly an hour of climbing to the launch altitude
in the military restricted airspace adjacent the Mojave Airport,
SpaceShipOne dropped from its carrier and shortly after lighted
the rocket motor. From the ground, it could be seen only as a
vapor trail, yet its speed and trajectory made it distinct from
the other contrails."
- "As the rocket burned out and the aircraft reached the
top of its flight arc, Siebold could be heard over the radio to
say 'The sky is dark.' He also commented that the rocket flight
was 'remarkably quiet in the boost.'"
- "Erik Lindbergh , grandson of the pioneering aviator and
vice president of the X-Prize Foundation, called the flight 'epic.'"
- "The first rocket flight was more nerve-wracking, Heath
said, but the 40-second duration of this flight made it something
different. 'Forty seconds is a long time,' [Kevin Heath of Scaled]
said. 'We're just chomping at the bit to go 90 seconds,' the duration
of rocket burn for the 100 km flight."
- The X PRIZE (100km) flight will be announced beforehand and
web cast. "With that kind of publicity blitz planned, the
Mojave Airport is making its own preparations for the large crowds
anticipated to watch the attempt."
News brief... Alan Boyle reports
on the SS1 flight:
Private space race goes supersonic SpaceShipOne flies again; X Prize
plans announcement - MSNBC - Apr.9.04
More pictures at Alan Radecki's
Airport Weblog. Takeoff through landing. BTW: Don't you think
a lot of millionaires would pay $100k to ride on something like
SS1 during flight as captured by an onlooker.
SpaceShipOne does it again... The
fired its rocket today:
Second Successful Rocket-Powered
American SpaceShipOne Team
X-PRIZE - - April
Hot on the heels of receiving it's FAA licence, the American
SpaceShipOne team had a perfect rocket-powered flight today, April
8, reaching an altitude of 105,000 ft. Behind the controls of
SpaceShipOne's second successful powered flight was pilot and
future astronaut, Peter Siebold. The engine burned for 40 seconds
and reached a speed of approximately Mach 2, making it the first
privately built space vehicle to accomplish this feat. "105,000
feet down, 223,000 feet to go!" exclaimed an excited onlooker,
as he watched the ship fly overhead.
Congrats again from the Suborbital
congratulates Scaled Composites (Mach 2 and 100K): Suborbital Institute
Says All Systems Go for Commercial Space - Suborbital Institute
News briefs ... Leonard David
on the flight: Private
Spaceship Completes Second Test Flight - Space.com - Apr.8.04...
... More on the licensing:
space flight takes big step up - New Scientist - Apr.8.04 *
receives first FAA suborbital rocket license - AV Press - Apr.8.04
More news & comment on
the awarding of the first FAA license for a commercial manned rocketship:
Congrats to Scaled & FAA-AST from
the Suborbital Institute:
Congratulates Scaled Composites,
Applauds FAA Action
April 7, 2004
(Updated April 8, 04)
Norman, OK -- The Suborbital
Institute today congratulated Scaled
Composites of Mojave, CA for being the first firm to receive
a Federal launch license for a piloted suborbital rocket. The
Institute applauded the Federal
Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation
for its action in issuing the historic launch license, which was
announced on April 7th.
Scaled Composites, run by aviation legend Burt Rutan, is already
in the process of test flying Spaceship
One, a winged suborbital rocket designed to win the $10 million
"We believe this action is another step in opening the road to
space, creating a new industry and new opportunities for all Americans,"
said Institute Chairman Patrick Bahn. "Regulatory barriers have
been a concern to suborbital entrepreneurs and investors, but
this action shows that things are heading in the right direction."
The Institute praised the FAA for streamlining past regulations
that were considered overly burdensome, while at the same time
protecting public safety The Institute plans to work with the
FAA and legislators to further streamline regulations in the future.
The Institute was instrumental in supporting the Commercial
Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004, which recently passed
the House of Representatives by a wide margin. One provision of
the HR 3752 would create a class of experimental launch permits,
making it easier for companies like Scaled to test experimental
Members and supporters of the Suborbital Institute will go to
Capitol Hill on Monday and Tuesday, May 17-18, to lobby for passage
of the HR 3752, which is now in the hands of the Senate. Pat Bahn
extended an open invitation for supporters of commercial human
spaceflight to join Institute members in the lobbying event. Interested
parties may email firstname.lastname@example.org
to sign up.
The Suborbital Institute is an industry association whose members
include many firms involved in the development of suborbital commercial
human spaceflight, including TGV
Technology Development, XCOR
X-Rocket, LLC. Membership is also open to members of the public
who support the development of the suborbital commercial human
Launch license for Scaled
Composites The FAA released today the following announcement:
Issues License for Historic Sub-Orbital Manned Rocket Launch:
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Transportation today
announced it has issued the world’s first license for a sub-orbital
manned rocket flight.
The license was issued April 1 by the Federal Aviation Administration’s
Office of Commercial Space Transportation to Scaled Composites
of Mojave, Calif., headed by aviation record-holder Burt Rutan,
for a sequence of sub-orbital flights spanning a one-year period.
The FAA sub-orbital space flight license is required for U.S.
contenders in the X-Prize competition, a high-stakes international
race ultimately to launch a manned, reusable private vehicle into
space and return it safely to Earth. The X- Prize foundation will
award $10 million to the first company or organization to launch
a vehicle capable of carrying three people to a height of 100
kilometers (62.5 miles), return them safely to Earth, and repeat
the flight with the same vehicle within two weeks.
Twenty-seven contestants representing seven countries have already
registered for the X-Prize contest, modeled on the $25,000 Orteig
Prize for which Charles Lindbergh flew solo from New York to Paris
In its 20 years of existence, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space
Transportation has licensed more than 150 commercial launches
of unmanned expendable launch vehicles. This license is the first
to authorize manned flight on a sub-orbital trajectory.
While the highest criteria to issue a license is public safety,
applicants must undergo an extensive pre- application process,
demonstrate adequate financial responsibility to cover any potential
losses, and meet strict environmental requirements.
See also Feds
Give Private Spaceship Go-Ahead to Expand Flight Testing - Space.com
SpaceShipOne flies again... The
SS1 returned to the skies yesterday in a drop test from the White
The twelfth flight of SpaceShipOne. Objectives included: pilot
proficiency, reaction control system functionality check and stability
and control and performance of the vehicle with the airframe thermal
protection system installed. This was an unpowered glide test.
page shows a picture of the rocket motor for flight 13p and
of the airframe with the thermal protection system now installed.
Since this test was flight "12g" (12th SS1 flight, glide
mode) the "13p" indicates that the next flight will be
SS1 updates will continue here
as the SpaceShipOne program moves towards the 100km altitude goal.
archive or July
- Dec. 2004 or