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RLV News Special Edition:
Scaled Composites
SpaceShipOne & White Knight

January - June 2004
(
July - Dec 2004, 2003)


SpaceShipOne


RLV News Archive Directory

This section contains a compilation of articles and links from RLV News about the SpaceShipOne/White Knight program for the first half of 2004. See also the July-Dec 2004 archive, 2003 archive and the rollout on April 18.03.

SpaceShipOne Flights - Video/Audio

Note that the Scaled Composites web site provides a wide range of images and documents about the project.

Photo albums:


The White Knight

June 30, 2004

News briefs... Sci-Fi writer Robert Sawyer sees aspects of the Salvage 1 program in the SS1 and other private rocket developments: The 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 (subscription required.)

June 29, 2004

SS1 news... Scaled has posted a video 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 (via Transterrestrial)....

... Irene Klotz, who seems to be writing a lot on space these days, profiles the Mojave Spaceport in Space 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: For St. Louis, spaceflight prize is the X factor - STLtoday - June.28.04

June 28, 2004

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 ...

... Tim 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.

News briefs... 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 (via spacetoday.net)...

... FunTechSystems, 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 Rocket Plane....

.... Good selection of SS1 project pictures: Slide Show for album :: SpaceShipOne, Burt Rutan's entry for the X-Prize (via Transterrestrial Musings).

June 27, 2004

SS1 news ... The NSS offers a way for you to say Congratulations, Burt! - Send Congratulations to Burt Rutan!

Other items:

June 26, 2004

News briefs ... This report gives details of the insurance arrangement to fund the X PRIZE purse: They fueled 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

June 25, 2004

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 Musings ...

...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 Summer ...

... Alan Boyle reports on the detailed requirements for the official X PRIZE flights: X Prize countdown - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - June.24.04 ...

... FunTech 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 - RocketForge.

June 24, 2004

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 studies.)

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 at The 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 each."

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

SS1 News...

June 23, 2004

More SS1 News... Alan Boyle provides an interesting perspective on the flight and the aftermath: Spacemen 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 monitor article.

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 space....

... 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 manner.

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 well.

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." (See photos 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.

June 22, 2004

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 runway. continue...

BTW: Joan will be on the Space Show this Sunday, June 27, 12-1:30pm Pacific Time. See the Space 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 good view.

More SS1.... Nice sets of pictures at LAUNCH! - Alan's Mojave Airport Weblog - June.21.04 and MSNBC - Private rocket ship breaks space barrier....

... A personal log of the event at Viewing Space Ship One Launch - The Interocitor (Kevin Murphy) - June.21.04 (via Transterrestrial Musings)....

... 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

June 21, 2004

19:45 Even more SS1.... Leonard David reports on the technical problems that occurred during the flight: SpaceShipOne 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 1 name:

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 at Officially 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 some updates 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 Foust reports 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 envelope expansion.
  • "Rutan noted that he and Allen formed a company, Mojave Aerospace, which actually owns the intellectual property associated with SpaceShipOne."
  • 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:

11:45: Send a congrats to Mike Melvill.

11:35: Reports:

11:25: Yeeeesssssssss.....

SpaceShipOne Reaches Space
and Lands Safely!

10:55: Rocket firing complete. Latest word from pilot is that things are going good.

10:40: Spaceflight 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 rave 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 Centennial Challenges Workshop. Here, though, is a short but nice report: Centennial Challenges Workshop Summary - Space Race News! - Jan.20.04...

... John Carmack and Ron Milburn of Armadillo 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 Centre, engine 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:

The Space 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 sequence.

Updated information will be posted to this site approximately 11:30PM PDT on Sunday, June 20th. Space Show listeners are welcome to contact drspace@thespaceshow.com or dmlivings@yahoo.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.

June 20, 2004

SS1 updates: Long lists of articles are available at spacetoday.net and X PRIZE Space Race News. Here is a sample:

June 19, 2004

SS1 updates: More articles collected from spacetoday.net, X PRIZE Space Race News, and elsewhere:

X PRIZE home page says "There are 500 media representatives signed up to cover Monday's event."

Countdown to historic space trip - BBC - June.19.04 - long article about the mission

Monday's 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?"

SpaceShipOne: Soaring Toward Tomorrow - Space.com - compilation of articles on the event.

Viewer's Guide to Monday's First Piloted Private Space Flight - Space.com - info on viewing in Mojave or from elsewhere

Allen 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 commercially viable.

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.

Voyage 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).

June 18, 2004

The Space Show in Mojave... The SpaceShow 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 website [ci.ridgecrest.ca.us/spaceship1/] will be providing one hour of audio webcast for the Burt Rutan SS1 flight.

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:

Space Race II: A 'private' astronaut - UPI - June.18.04 - profile of Peter Diamandis

Private 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.

World: 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.)

Commercial space travel next leap for mankind? Private manned flight test may launch new era in aviation - CNN.com - Jun 18, 2004

Big Secret: Who Will Fly SpaceShipOne? - Space.com - June.18.04

It's now official and they have the license to prove it:

Mojave Spaceport
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:

June 17, 2004

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: Regular 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 builder: Burt Rutan: Aviation pioneer - BBC - June.17...

... Cruising to space and then Alaska: Celebrity 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:

June 16, 2004

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.) Some highlights:

  • "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 to.]
  • "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.]

SS1 articles:

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.

June 15, 2004

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 readers:

CNN will broadcast the SS1 flight according to an update on the Scaled Composites site. (Via HS reader R. Burmeister)

June 14, 2004

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

June 12, 2004

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 this passage:

"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 system.

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 ways: Watch for space stars - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - June.11.04.

June 11, 2004

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.

June 10, 2004

Virgin space tourism... Richard Branson has apparently been involved in other activities in Mojave besides the Global Flyer: Branson 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 guys.

News briefs... Leonard David reports on the space fest developing in Mojave for the SS1 flight: Mojave 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).

June 10, 2004

News briefs... Leonard David reports on the space fest developing in Mojave for the SS1 flight: Mojave 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).

June 9, 2004

More SS1 models... Check out the Space ShipOne and Carrier Aircraft resin model kit at Unicraft Models. There is also the Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne paper model at Currel Graphics.

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

June 8, 2004

A SpaceShipOne article in the latest Aviation 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 become turbulent.
  • 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

June 4, 2004

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 release.

June 3, 2004

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 report: Milestone 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.

June 2, 2004

Scaled Composites is going for it...

Historic 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: Private Spacecraft's Inaugural Launch Set for June 21 - Space.com - June.2.04

May 18, 2004

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 Spacecraft) ...

May 14, 2004

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 (via Alan Boyle).

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.

May 14, 2004

This SS1 article includes comments from Jeff Foust of spacetoday.net and spacereview.com: Microsoft 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 life.

"'I feel great, it was fabulous. I would pay a million dollars to do that again,' he said."

... Exciting summer ahead: In 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 people.'"

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.

May 13, 2004

Scaled has posted the flight 14p report:

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 Vulcan Inc.

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 very soon.

Thanks for your interest in our project. The future's looking up...way up! SpaceShipOne Team

SS1 update... Scaled posts a brief note on the flight. They will report later after analysis of the data....

... Leonard David has got more details: Private 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 at 11:25am]

May 11, 2004

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.)

April 30, 2004

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.

April 19, 2004

Noticing private space ... This article - 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.

April 14, 2004

SS1 second powered flight
Scaled Composites photos
SpaceShipOne on its second rocket powered flight April 8, 2004
.
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 - Apr.14.04

News briefs... SpaceDev reports on the performance of its hybrid rocket in the recent SS1 flight: SpaceDev Powers SpaceShipOne to New Heights - SpaceDev/Yahoo PR - Apr.14.04

April 13, 2004

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.

April 9, 2004

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

April 8, 2004

More pictures at Alan Radecki's Mojave Airport Weblog. Takeoff through landing. BTW: Don't you think a lot of millionaires would pay $100k to ride on something like this.


SS1 during flight as captured by an onlooker.

SpaceShipOne does it again... The SS1 fired its rocket today:

Second Successful Rocket-Powered Flight for
American SpaceShipOne Team

X-PRIZE - - April 8, 2004

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 Institute: SOI congratulates Scaled Composites (Mach 2 and 100K): Suborbital Institute Says All Systems Go for Commercial Space - Suborbital Institute - Apr.8.04

News briefs ... Leonard David on the flight: Private Spaceship Completes Second Test Flight - Space.com - Apr.8.04...

... More on the licensing: Commercial space flight takes big step up - New Scientist - Apr.8.04 * Rutan 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:

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 X-Prize.

"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 rockets.

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 edwright2000@hotmail.com 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 Rockets, Armadillo Aerospace, Vela Technology Development, XCOR Aerospace, and X-Rocket, LLC. Membership is also open to members of the public who support the development of the suborbital commercial human spaceflight industry.

April 7, 2004

Launch license for Scaled Composites The FAA released today the following announcement: FAA 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 1927.

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 - Apr.7.04.

March 12, 2004

SpaceShipOne flies again... The SS1 returned to the skies yesterday in a drop test from the White Knight. Test entry states:

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.

The photos 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 powered.

January1, 2004

SS1 updates will continue here as the SpaceShipOne program moves towards the 100km altitude goal.


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