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RLV News Special Edition:
Scaled Composites
SpaceShipOne & White Knight

July 2004 -Dec.2004
Jan-June 2004 archive, 2003 archive)

RLV News Archive Directory


SpaceShipOne Flights - Audio/Video

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

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

Photo albums:


The White Knight

December 30, 2004

11:35 pm: Learn how to build a SpaceShipOne ... Here's a chance to participate in building a copy of the SS1: Incredible Opportunity!! Students and Young Professionals Wanted for the Chance of a Lifetime - Space Race News! - Dec.30.04

2:05 am: Being there... I'll soon be making regular trips to the National Air & Space Museum with our nieces and nephews (and later their kids) so that I can point to a strange and beautiful little spaceship hanging up there in the center gallery and can tell them, "I was there when it flew to space for the last time": SpaceShipOne's final trip - MSNBC - Dec.28.04

December 28, 2004

3:50 pm: News briefs... More about Branson and rockets: Rocket Man: Richard Branson conquered the world. Now he wants to fly you to space. - Wired - Jan.05 issue

2:15 am: SS2 news and some speculation... The BBC reports on more details revealed about the SpaceShipTwo design: Virgin soars towards new frontier - BBC - Dec.27.04.

As mentioned here recently, the SS2 will carry up to 8 passengers plus a pilot. In addition:

  • It will have "the same diameter crew cabin as a Gulfstream V business jet" (1.9m by 2.2m).
  • They are "aiming for a top altitude of between 84 and 87 miles (135-140 km)" to provide additional time to experience weightlessness
  • "'Instead of shoulder harnesses and tight seatbelts we want this roller coaster-type bar that you fold out of the way and you can float around,' Rutan said."
  • There will be the "option of landing in a different place from where they took off." For example, they could "launch not far from Las Vegas and land in Mojave"

December 24, 2004

8:05 pm: News briefs... More about the space bill history from Alan Boyle: Private-spaceflight bill signed into law: After long struggle, law opens way for tourism - MSNBC - Dec.24.04. (Via Space Politics.) ...

... The EAA recognizes Mike Melvill and the SS1 project: Audience Journeys into Space with Mike Melvill at EAA Wright Dinner - EAA News - Dec.18.04 * Mike Melvill Tours EAA - EAA Headquarters - Dec.17.04 (links via Aleta Jackson)

December 23, 2004

1:35 pm: News briefs ... Maybe in a decade or so we will see a bump in the number of majors in aerospace engineering as students inspired as kids by SpaceShipOne reach college age: Rediscovering the final frontier: A new exhibit at Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry lets visitors explore space without leaving the ground. - St. Petersburg Times - Dec.23.04

December 22, 2004

2:00 pm: News briefs ... Burt Rutan is awarded Entrepreneur of the Year - Inc.com - Jan.05. The article provides an extensive profile of Burt.

December 21, 2004

11:35 am: SpaceShipOne and Two news... In this interview - SpaceShipOne designer talks about flight’s future - thedesertsun.com - Dec.20.04 (reprint at Space Race News) - Burt Rutan says:

  • SS1 will not fly again. Paul Allen doesn't want to risk damaging it. Instead it is headed for the main gallery area in the Air & Space Museum in DC.

  • SS2 will carry 9 people. Previous statements had indicated 5.

  • " It would also fly higher, and further down range. So this is going to be a craft that could do sustainable business for a long time, flying thousands of people."

December 20, 2004

11:50 am: News briefs... The SS1 continues to impress the press around the country: For aviation pioneer, high risk is routine: Mike Melvill flew SpaceShipOne into outer space - Post-Crescent (Wisconsin) - Dec.18.04 (via spacetoday.net)

December 16, 2004

3:30 pm: Some space transport news comes in this article from the Economist about space tourism: One small step for space tourism... - Economist - Dec.16.04.

Highlights about SpaceShipTwo include:

  • As announced before, Virgin Galactic plans to spend up to $100m and so far has committed $20M for licensing of the SS1 technology.
  • A mock-up of the interior is under construction.
  • A construction contract for the 5-passenger SS2 will be signed in early 2005
  • Exterior work will then begin
  • Star Trek names will be assigned to the vehicles - VSS Enterprise and VSS Voyager for the first two.
  • There will be a new mother ship instead of the White Knight
  • Testing of the first vehicle will occur "some time during 2007"
  • The $200K for the ticket will buy a 3-day experience that includes "medical checks" and a custom molded flat foam seat so that riders "will barely notice a G-force that might cause them to pass out if they were sitting upright".
  • Passengers will remain tethered to their seats by "rubber bungees that allow them to float about a bit, but will reel them in for descent after four or five minutes of weightlessness".
  • About 13K people have registered to pay a deposit. Virgin needs 5K customers over 5 years to make a profit.
  • "they do not intend to fly unless they can make their spacecraft as safe as a private jet."

There are also some rumors about Blue Origin:

  • The Blue Origin vehicle will fly 7 passengers
  • It will be a single-stage, liquid-fueled, Vertical-Takeoff-Vertical-Landing vehicle.

BTW: I heard that a couple of Blue Origin reps came to the recent COMSTAC meeting held by the AST. However, they were apparently there just to listen and did not give a presentation.

December 14, 2004

9:50 am: News briefs... The idea of selling space memorabilia that has actually flown in space gets a boost from this auction: "SpaceShip-flown rocket to be auctioned" - collectSPACE - Dec.13.04. The company TOSPACE, for example, has been offering fledgling suborbital companies money to fly collectibles to 100Km ...

... More comments from Mike Melvill on his flights: Space travel ideas soar with civilian astronaut - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel - Dec.13.04 (via spacetoday.net.)

December 13, 2004

5:30 pm: Space bill briefs... This week's Space Review includes an article by Sam Dinkin on the space bill: Getting into the act - The Space Review - Dec.13.04. (See also Nathan Horsley's earlier analysis of the bill.)...

... Robert Zimmerman returns for a special program on the Space Show this Thursday at 7:30PM - 8:30 pm (PST) to "examine the pending Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 legislation waiting for the President's signature."

December 10, 2004

5:05 pm: No halting the SS1... I've been informed that the official UPI version of Robert Zimmerman's article on the space bill no longer includes the paragraph that says if the bill had been in effect at the time, the spinning on the first SS1 X PRIZE flight "would have forced AST to halt the second flight".

The language in that paragraph was due to the editor's "editing, not Bob's reporting or analysis." [Dec.15: See update.]

December 9, 2004

1:10 pm: Space in your Christmas list... During your holiday shopping this year be sure to drop in at the gift shops sponsored by various companies and organizations involved in commercial space transport development.

For example, Rocket Boosters, highlighted in this article - SpaceShipOne souvenirs hot items for charities - Antelope Valley Press - Dec.8.0, offers lots of SS1 memorabilia. Other shops include:

(Sorry if I left your space transport company's shop off the list. Glad to add it if you let me know.)

December 8, 2004

11:35 am: News briefs... An essay in today's Wall Street Journal talks about the regulatory hurdles faced by the nascent commercial space tourist business and argues that Congress has not helped the situation by blocking the commercial space bill: The 'Final Frontier' May Be a Senate Waste Basket By Holman W. Jenkins - WSJ.com - Dec.8.04. (This is a subscription link. I'll check later to see if they they move it to the free Opinion Journal section.) Rand Simberg discusses the piece...

... The article - Last rocketeers set sights on Mars - USATODAY.com - Dec.8.04 - reports on the remaining members of von Braun's rocket team in Huntsville and makes the point that today's rocket entrepreneurs are taking over where they left off. ...

... They may have to put in extra seats for the first commercial SS2 flight as demand continues to rise: Car chief plans to be first Irishman in space - Belfast Telegraph - Dec.6.04 (via spacetoday.net

2:30 am: News briefs... Alan Boyle talks about the status of the suborbital space tourism business: Selling the Sky: Marketing efforts take aim at the suborbital frontier - CosmicLog/MSNBC - Dec.7.04...

... More Kudos for the SS1 team: Knight, new craft receive awards: State authority honors late senator, SpaceShipOne - L.A. Daily News - Dec.6.04...

... Based on this song, I doubt Vim will be getting a NASA arts grant anytime soon. (Via Space Race News.)

December 4, 2004

11:00 am: Rocket auction... One of the rocket sculptures that flew on the SS1 X PRIZE flight is on sale at ebay: eBay item 3945035703 (Ends Dec-13-04 05:00:00 PST) - RETRO BRONZE MINI ROCKET by Erik Lindbergh.

The sculptures were designed and created by Erik Lindbergh, who is the grandson of Charles Lindberg and is a Vice President and Trustee of the X Prize Foundation. The proceeds from the auction will "benefit The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation, a public 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of improving the quality of life through balance between technology and the environment."

The current bid is $13,600.00.

December 2, 2004

1:20 pm: News briefs... Scaled has recently updated its galleries of photos for X PRIZE Flight #1and X PRIZE Flight #2

News briefs... Burt's tips for engineers: Space pioneer Rutan offers down-to-earth engineering advice - EDN - Dec.1.04

December 1, 2004

2:15 am: News briefs... Another innovative Scaled Composites vehicle will soon set off on a record breaking flight: Around the World, With 13 Fuel Tanks and a Single Seat - NY Times - Nov.30.04.

November 30, 2004

10:55 am: News briefs... Came across another SS1 photo album: Pictures of SpaceShipOne's space flights - June/September/October 2004 - Stratofox

November 29, 2004

12:05 am: News briefs... I've been in Knoxville and saw this article Sunday about a local company that built the audio system for the SS1: Sound Venture - Knoxville New Sentinel - Nov.28.04

November 23, 2004

2:00 am: News briefs... Alan Boyle notes a transition to a new phase in commercial spaceflight development: Second stage for the space race - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Nov.22.40

November 22, 2004

2:15 am: News briefs... The SS1 gets some well deserved recognition: SpaceShipOne named Time's 'Invention of the Year' - AP/Monterey Herald - Nov.21.04 ...

... The B-52 that carried the X-15 and the X-43A and a lot of other experimental aircraft in between is finally heading off for retirement: B-52B test plane flies final mission - The Washington Times - Nov.21.04 ...

... More about prize motivation: Grand Prizes: Substantial cash awards have inspired inventors and advanced technology throughout history - SanDiego Union-Tribune - Nov.21.04.

(These links via spacetoday.net)

November 20, 2004

News briefs... Burt Rutan communicates his vision of the future of spaceflight to UCLA students: Space cowboy envisions new frontier: Maverick aviator seeks to launch travel, tourism into Earth orbit - Chicago Tribune - Nov.20.04...

... Sigourney Weaver thinks a suborbital spaceflight ticket is worth the price: Is she pining for Alien? - The Sun Newspaper Online - Nov.19.04.


November 19. 2004

Suborbital spaceflight safety... Rand Simberg responds to the Tabarrok article: Not Unsafe At Any Speed - TCS: Tech Central Station - Nov.19.04.

Here also are two discussions on Rand's blog: Not Unsafe At Any Speed - Transterrestrial Musings - Nov. 18.04 + Unsafe At Any Speed? - Transterrestrial Musings - Nov.18.04

News briefs... More on Mike Melvill's visit to Florida: Famed pilot still looking up: America's first commercial astronaut visits Brevard - Florida Today - Nov.17.0

November 18. 2004

Probably wrong... If statistics were a child, Alexander Tabarrok would be arrested for abuse: Is Space Tourism Ready for Takeoff? Probably Not - TCS: Tech Central Station - Nov.18.04.

Aerospace engineers can comment more knowledgeably on his analysis than I can but here are some points to consider:

  • He relies on a lump of technology fallacy in which rocket vehicles of all manner of designs and configurations and that were developed and launched over many decades are all lumped together. From this lump he draws conclusions on a new suborbital vehicle that uses a design and a propulsion system quite different from what those vehicles used. (Not that I believe conventional liquid fueled engines are incapable of achieving high safety levels.)

  • How can expendable orbital rockets be compared to a reusable suborbital vehicles?

  • How can the massive, hyper-complex, hyper-fragile, first-of-a-kind shuttle be compared to a small, Mach 3 suborbital?

  • He cites problems that occurred during the initial test flights of the SS1 and implies that these prove the SS1's unreliability. This is misleading in two ways:

    • Finding problems is what a test phase is supposed to do. You gradually push the envelope, find problems and fix them. That is HOW you make a vehicle reliable. That is HOW you build in the margins that lead to high reliability and safety.

    • Despite the problems like the spin on the first X PRIZE flight, the SS1 survived without any damage to the vehicle or pilot. This would indicate that even at this early stage, the vehicle has substantial margins and is remarkably robust considering that it is a whole new type of vehicle.

  • Burt Rutan believes the SS2 can achieve the safety levels of the first generation of airliners. He wants to follow a certification process similar to what airplanes must follow. This will certainly mean a significant number of test flights before paying passengers start flying. From a large sample of flights, one can then make a reasonable estimate of reliability.

  • Comparing the first space tourism vehicles to current airliner safety is silly. Achieving current safety levels took many decades and many accidents to learn from.

  • There's nothing in his analysis that proves that there are fundamental reasons the first generation of space tourism vehicles cannot provide as good or better safety as that found with other common adventure tourism activities such as parachuting, scuba diving, mountain climbing, etc. These are carried out by many thousands of people daily despite the occasional fatal accident.

[Update: Here are some stats on mountain climbing risks provided by David Nishimura. Link via Instapundit.

News briefs... Comments from Jeff Foust about the fate of the commercial spaceflight bill: RIP HR 3752. Or not? - Space Politics - Nov.17.04...

... Mike Melvill flies the Proteus in Florda: Pioneer commercial astronaut makes stop in Melbourne - Florida Today - Nov.17.04.

November 17. 2004

Get your 2005 SpaceShipOne calendar now available at Rocketboosters.org: Officially Licensed SpaceShipOne Mechandise - 2005 12 month Calendar.

November 11, 2004

News briefs... SS1 and tests of a new radar system: Space Ship One may help flight test - Hilltop Times - Nov.11.04 ...

November 9, 2004

November 6, 2004: Burt Rutan, American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team Leader, accepts $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE check. From left to right - Burt Rutan, American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team Leader; Gregg Maryniak, Executive Director, X PRIZE Foundation; Paul G. Allen, Founder & Chair, Vulcan Inc.; Robert K. Weiss, Vice Chairman, X PRIZE Foundation; Peter H. Diamandis, Founder & Chair, X PRIZE Foundation. (Photo - X PRIZE)

November 8, 2004

News briefs... This report - Winging It: Black Sky - Astrobiology Magazine - Nov.8.04 - on comments made by Burt Rutan while in Alabama includes this interesting factoid: "I bought the engines for $65,000 each."

(Both links via spacetoday.net)

Rutan and the SS1 on 60 Minutes... The segment was really terrific. They concentrated on Burt Rutan but with a strong emphasis on the SS1 flights and the development of a private spaceflight industry. See pictures and text at Next Space Race Under Way - CBS News - Nov.7.04

60 Minutes is one of the most watched programs on US TV. While many people saw snippets of the flights on the daily news shows, this broadcast will give a much bigger audience the story of what the flights were really all about. Can't imagine the alt.space movement getting a better publicity boost.

News briefs... More on the X PRIZE awards ceremony: Winners of X Prize get their reward - St. Louis Post Dispatch - Nov.7.04...

... MOON Bahamas is an elaborate resort and real estate development with a space/scifi theme. It probably will never get off the ground but such a resort would be a great place to base a ZERO G type parabolic flight service and eventually a space tourism company like Virgin Galactic.

November 7, 2004

SS1 news... The SS1 team got their trophy and check yesterday:

Here is the official press release:

X PRIZE Foundation Awards $10 Million Check Today
to Historic Winners of the ANSARI X PRIZE

$10 million check given to American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team at the St. Louis Science Center for their successful suborbital space flights Sept. 29 and Oct. 4

St. Louis, MO. (November 6, 2004) - Ten million dollars was awarded at 10:30 a.m. (CT) today to the American Mojave Aerospace Team, led by research aircraft developer Burt Rutan, and financier Paul Allen, for its successful completion of the history making ANSARI X PRIZE. The team prevailed over 25 additional teams from across the globe in developing and flying a privately financed, manned spaceship to an altitude above 100km. The criteria called for the spacecraft to fly twice, within a two-week period, before the December 31 deadline, with a pilot and the weight equivalent of two additional people. Ceremonies were held at the St. Louis Science Center, a major supporter of the Foundation and St. Louis University High School in St. Louis, Missouri.

“We are very excited to be able to celebrate this extraordinary accomplishment here in St. Louis, the birth place of Charles Lindbergh's flight and home of the X PRIZE Foundation,” said Gregg Maryniak, Executive Director, X PRIZE Foundation. “The ANSARI X PRIZE was the first step for people to realize their dream of space travel and has since sparked a number of new creative endeavors including the upcoming X PRIZE CUP in New Mexico.”

After the team's second successful sub orbital space flight October 4, Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic Airways Founder, announced his plans to partner with the American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team to develop a fleet of five passenger space ships modeled from Burt Rutan's White Knight & SpaceShipOne vehicles.

“There is no question that the ANSARI X PRIZE was instrumental in helping to inspire a new space renaissance,” said Burt Rutan, American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team Leader. “The entire team anticipates an exciting decade ahead, which will provide space access for those for whom it was previously only a dream.”

In addition to receiving a $10 million check, the American Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team also was awarded an impressive five-foot, 200 lb bronze trophy created by sculptor, James Todd of Troy, Michigan. Francis G. Slay, Mayor, City of St. Louis, proclaimed Nov. 6, 2004 “Space Flight Day” and designated the first week in October as “Aviation History Week” to commemorate the second flight of SpaceShipOne on October 4, 2004. With blue skies overhead, the presentation ceremony was concluded as pilot and astronaut Mike Melvill and pilot Robert Scherer flew overhead in the Beechcraft Starship, one of the chase planes that accompanied SpaceShipOne on its flights.

Dignitaries attending the event included Paul G. Allen, Founder and Chair, Vulcan Inc.; Congressman Richard Gephardt, (D) Missouri; Congressman Todd Akin, (R) Missouri; Francis G. Slay, Mayor of St. Louis; William Readdy, NASA Associate Administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate; Byron Lichtenberg, PhD, X PRIZE Board of Trustees and astronaut; John-David Bartoe, astronaut; Richard Fleming, President and CEO, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association; Erik Lindbergh, Director, Lindbergh Foundation; Amir Ansari, Technology Entrepreneur; Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Founder and Chair, X PRIZE Foundation; Robert K. Weiss, Vice Chairman, X PRIZE Foundation and Hollywood Producer, and Douglas R. King, President, St. Louis Science Center. Additional attendees of the ceremonies included many of the 26 competitors including: ARCA, Da Vinci/Golden Palace, Pablo de Leon & Associates, Pioneer Rocketplane, TGV Rockets, Inc., Vanguard Spacecraft, High Altitude Research Corporation (HARC), and Suborbital Corporation.

... The two DVDs with the Black Sky programs about the SpaceShipOne and the X PRIZE, and shown recently on the Discovery Channel, are now shipping from the Discovery Store. (Just got word that my set is in the mail.) ...

... Meanwhile, don't forget the 60 Minutes show tonight with a segment about Burt Rutan.

November 5, 2004

60 Minutes profiles Burt Rutan on November 7th:

THE NEXT SPACE RACE - The private sector's race to space is being led by maverick aeronautical engineer Burt Rutan, who foresees thousands of people enjoying the view from space in the very near future. Ed Bradley reports.

(Via a HS reader)

November 4, 2004

SS1 articles in the November issue of Sports Aviation include this interesting behind the scenes report by EAA President Tom Poberezny who visited Scaled Composites the day before the Sept.29th launch: “SpaceShipOne — Cleared to Land” by Tom Poberezny - EAA Sports Aviation - Nov.04 (pdf).

Though not available online, the issue also includes the article: Inside SpaceShipOne: Innovation-and a few dicey moments-highlight the first private space program - Sport Aviation Magazine - Nov.04. (Item via HS reader D. Hoerr.)

November 3, 2004

News briefs ... The latest X PRIZE newsletter is now available: X PRIZE NEWSLETTER : November 2, 2004...

... More space tourism press: The future of space tourism is looking up - Chicago Tribune - Nov.1.04...

... Eli Kintisch reports on the upcoming X PRIZE awards event: .Ansari X Prize will be awarded Saturday in ceremony - St. Louis Post Dispatch - Nov.11.04

November 2, 2004

Suborbital orbital spinoff... AvWeek reports that the SpaceShipOne is having a positive impact on the RASCAL program: SpaceShipOne Lessons Feeding Into RASCAL Aircraft - Aviation Week - Nov.1.04 -

"Lessons and technology from Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne are being applied to the supersonic manned aircraft the company is developing for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) RASCAL program, according to Jacob Lopata, chief executive officer for RASCAL prime contractor Space Launch Corp."

How can this be? Numerous talking aero-heads have made categorical claims that nothing significant can be learned from X PRIZE class suborbital vehicles that will apply to orbital systems. But as we see here (and also mentioned in this report), if nothing else, suborbital vehicle technology can be applied to the development of a robust, reliable, low cost first stage of a two or three stage orbital system.

November 1, 2004

News briefs... Burt Rutan is helping to inspire a new generation of students on the excitement of space: Spaceship designer boosts innovation: Speaker hopes to spark kids' interest in space exploration - The Daily Texan - Nov.1.04.

October 31, 2004

Space adventure preparation ... In response to the progress in the development of a space tourism industry, ETC Space, a "world leader in aeromedical training for more than 35 years", is starting a program that will offer similar training to space adventurers: ETC's EnTCo Announces Space Adventure Entertainment Product Line - ETC Space - Oct.29.04.

Candidate astronauts will be able to experience "re-entry G exposure, the effects of reduced atmospheric pressure, escape from a malfunctioning space vehicle, weightlessness, and reentry vehicle recovery." I imagine the "Ejection Seat Simulator (ESS)" would be especially educational. (Via Space Race News.)

October 29, 2004

News briefs... Still difficult after the SS1 success for other companies to obtain money for suborbital spaceflight projects: Space Race Focuses on Money - Wired - Oct.29.04....

... Regulatory problems also stand in the way: A lot of ground to be covered before space tourism can fly - USATODAY.com - Oct.28.04.

X PRIZE award ceremony is open to the public:

ANSARI X PRIZE to be awarded Nov. 6 to SpaceShipOne Team
St. Louis Science Center site for award ceremony and rally

(St. Louis, MO. Oct. 29, 2004) The $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE will be awarded to Scaled Composites, LLC, creators of SpaceShipOne, during a special ceremony and public rally Sat., Nov. 6, 2004, 10-11:30 am, at St. Louis University High School's athletic field next to the St. Louis Science Center, 5050 Oakland Ave., St. Louis, MO. Burt Rutan, Scaled Composite's team leader, will accept the check from Peter Diamandis, MD, chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation.

Visitors should begin arriving at 9:30 am for a rally to greet the Scaled Composites' team. The entire team, from engineers and builders to the pilots, will attend. Check presentation ceremony is 10:30 am followed by a full day of activities at the Science Center. From approximately 11 am-3:30 pm visitors can meet the Scaled Composites team, including Burt Rutan and pilots Brian Binnie and Mike Melvill, get their autographs, and take photos.

In addition to meeting the team members at the Science Center, visitors can participate in numerous hands-on activities related to space flight, sign a giant congratulations banner for the Scaled Composites team, see demonstrations of rocket launches, and take your photo alongside an image of SpaceShipOne.

Paul Allen, chairman of Charter Communications and co-founder of Microsoft, will attend the ceremonies along with Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. Allen partnered with Rutan to form Mojave Aerospace Ventures to fund the Scaled Composites team. Branson's Virgin Galactic will sell sub-orbital space rides for about $200,000 per person utilizing SpaceShipOne's technology. Branson has pledged to reinvest any profits from Virgin Galactic into developing other space tourism business.

In order to win the $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE, SpaceShipOne successfully completed two manned flights, to a minimum of 100km (62.5 miles), into space within a 14 day time period. SpaceShipOne completed the first flight Wed., Sept. 29, and the second flight Mon., Oct. 4 to capture the prize.

The ANSARI X PRIZE was founded by the New Spirit of St. Louis members who created the prize to further commercial space endeavors. The Ansari family is the title sponsor of the prize. Sponsors of the weekend ceremonies include: St. Louis Science Center, X PRIZE Foundation, Champ Car World Series, 7-Up, M&Ms Chocolate Candies, Enterprise Financial Services Corporation, and Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA). Media partners are St. Louis Post-Dispatch and St. Louis Commerce Magazine.

October 27, 2004

A man on a 5 year mission... Burt Rutan plans to stop working on aircraft and concentrate on spaceships: Space Race 2: Flying High Beyond The Sky - UPI/SpaceDaily - Oct.27.04. He says the space tourism vehicle for Virgin Galactic will differ considerably from the SS1:

The backbone of the Branson venture, called Virgin Galactic, will be five ships, each capable of flying at least five and more likely around eight people at one time. SpaceShipTwo will not look anything like its predecessor.

For one thing, Rutan must fix a stability problem caused by SpaceShipOne's high upswept wings. For another, Rutan and Branson plan a ship of luxury, with service and amenities that at least match Virgin Atlantic's upper-class travel service. And that, as any airline flier knows, starts with leg room.

Rutan said SpaceShipTwo will have about the same diameter crew cabin as a Gulfstream V business jet, which measures slightly more than 6 feet in height and 7 feet in width (1.9 meters by 2.2 meters.) Seats will fully recline so that even elderly passengers - Rutan plans to fly his 88-year-old father - will be able to handle the expected force of six times Earth's gravity upon descent.

The G-forces are higher than what SpaceShipOne's pilot experienced, but that is because Rutan is aiming for a top altitude of between 84 miles and 87 miles (135 kilometers and 140 kilometers), rather than the 62-mile, (100 kilometer) target required to win the Ansari X Prize competition.

The extra altitude will add about another 90 seconds of weightlessness for passengers to enjoy. Travelers will be able to do more than watch how candy flies around in space - they can fly themselves.

News briefs ... Alan Boyle discusses the composition of the exhaust of the SpaceShipOne hybrid engine and its possible environmental effects: How do private spaceflights affect environment?: The greening of rocketry - MSNBC/Cosmic Log - Oct.26.04....

... Wernher von Braun's serious rocketry work actually began outside of government and industry with his involvement in the amateur German Verein fur Raumschifffahrt (Rocket Society). Though he came to symbolize giant military and government rocket projects, I think he would be extremely pleased to see the development of low budget, low cost private spaceflight via the X PRIZE and the SS1: Burt Rutan takes a V2-powered wander down memory lane - The Register - Oct.26.04

October 26, 2004

News briefs... Virgin Galactic and its long term goals: Branson aiming to build hotel in space - Scotsman - Oct.26.04 ...

News briefs ... Even if you can't afford the tickets to the X PRIZE Award Gala, you can still see the ceremony where they will give the $10M check and the trophy to the SpaceShipOne team: X Prize party for the public - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Oct.25.04

October 25, 2004

"Six months ahead three months into the schedule"... Burt Rutan gave a lengthy informal talk at the recent Space Frontier Foundation conference in which he spoke extensively about the SpaceShipOne project as well as other topics such as his plans for new vehicles. Jeff Foust recorded the talk and has now posted text excerpts of the presentation: Burt Rutan, in his own words - The Space Review - Oct.25.04.

On the importance of starting with suborbital spaceflight:

"I recognized that if there was going to be space tourism so that we can all fly that we have to make these vehicles extremely robust and safe compared to any other manned spacecraft. Now certainly that enormous step towards making them safe is to not go to orbit first but to fly the Alan Shepard and Joe Walker flights. With suborbital you get about the same view and you get the experience of weightlessness. I tried to convince myself that this was good enough as a first effort."

Where he wants to end up:

"I put out there that before I die I want to see affordable travel to the Moon, that’s essentially where I’m going. What I mean by affordable is not what Houston talks about affordable; I’m talking about where a third of the people in this room can afford to go to the Moon when I finally kick off. That’s my vision."

He also explains why he thinks a vehicle certification process is crucial for commercial suborbital space tourism and says it won't be as expensive as many fear it will be....

.... Vanna Bonta writes about the "most precious payload" carried by SpaceShipOne: Space: what love's got to do with it - The Space Review - Oct.25.04 ...

... More about Rutan's visit to Huntsville: Rutan meets his rocket heroes - BBC - Oct.25.04.

News briefs... Scaled has posted some pictures from the first X PRIZE flight.

October 24, 2004

News briefs... More about the strong early signs that space tourism is a real business: Branson's space gamble pays off - The Guardian - Oct.22.04 ...

... British reporter locates someone in Mojave who isn't impressed with all this space stuff: Branson plays space invaders in California desert - Independent - Oct.23.04...

... Burt Rutan ventures into a NASA town to spread the word of a new way to do space: X-Prize winner says NASA needs another von Braun: Burt Rutan speaks at Space Center, to talk at Moontown - Huntsville Times - Oct.23.04

(Links via spacetoday.net).

October 22, 2004

News briefs... Have you bought your X PRIZE dinner ticket yet? Invitation to attend $10M Ansari X PRIZE Award GALA November 6th, 2004 - X PRIZE Space Race News! - Oct.21.04

Good Galactic omens... Encouraging signs of strong enthusiasm for Virgin Galactic 's suborbital space tourism flights:

"In all, more than $1.45 billion (£800 million) has been pledged -- years before the Virgin Galactic spaceship is even built, Branson said."

No telling how many of these 7000 astronaut hopefuls will really put down their cash when rides are avalable but if only a thousand do that would still provide a healthy ~$100M profit on a ~$100M investment.

(Links via spacetoday.net).

October 21, 2004

News briefs ... Lompoc, California, home to Vandenberg Air Force Base, wants some of the suborbital space tourism action: The stuff of big dreams - The Lompoc Record - Oct.20.04.

October 19, 2004

News briefs... More SS1 articles:

... Plus another space tourism article: Final frontier: Space tourism - Boston Globe - Oct.18.04. This author definitely understands the plan:

"The road from here to fully reusable orbital rockets, though, can be accomplished entirely in the tried-and-true aviation tradition of build a little, test a little, learning new lessons along the way and applying them to the next test vehicle."

News briefs... The Space Show this evening will once again feature Jim Benson of SpaceDev who "will be discussing new projects and the SpaceDev participation in the X-Prize flights with SpaceShipOne."

October 18, 2004

SS1 briefs ... Scaled has updated the SpaceShipOne / White Knight flight log with entries for the September 29th and October 4th X PRIZE flights. (Via a HS reader)...

... The Rocket Boosters have done quite well for local Mojave charities: Rocket Boosters to share success - Antelope Valley Press/Space Race News Oct.15.04...

... The latest issue of Aviation Week includes the interesting article: Pilots Reflect on SpaceShipOne Development. Unfortunately it's only available by paid subscription so far. Some of the highlights include:

  • Neither SpaceDev nor eAc produced motors with the thrust profiles that Scaled wanted for the SS1. Scaled wanted a
    • "slow ramp-up to give the pilot time to pull the nose to a vertical ascent before full thrust started, so that impulse was not wasted in the horizontal direction ...."
    • " [Then] maximum thrust to get acceleration done quickly while still in the atmosphere so aerodynamic controls would be effective to counter thrust asymmetries."
    • "[And finally] a tailoff of thrust that matched the craft slipping out of the atmosphere, to get the last bit of impulse with thrust low enough to be countered by declining aerodynamics. With the ideal profile, this tailoff would start at 140,000 ft. at 80 kt. equivalent airspeed (KEAS)."

  • A chart shows big discrepancies between the profiles of the two motors from the companies and this ideal profile SpaceDev won the contract mostly because the eAc motor required a longer burn time to reach the desired altitude.

  • Handling in the in the first 10-15 sec after ignition is particularly difficult and in general the Work load on the pilots was very high. E.g. Mike Melvill said:
    • "On my first powered flight there wasn't enough mental bandwidth...I didn't hear or feel anything, I just focused on the display. By the third time I noticed a lot more. The rocket made a weird howling noise at high altitude; I didn't notice that on the first flight."

  • The simulator was less than perfect, e.g.
    • "'hard to remember that the sim doesn't fly exactly like the real aircraft,' [Pete] Siebold says. 'It's harder when the sim teaches you techniques that just don't work in the aircraft.'"

  • During the design phase
    • "the pilots wanted stability augmentation, but Rutan wanted simple, reliable manual cable controls. SpaceShipOne has achieved its goal of being the first private spaceship ... but only through a high level of pilot skill, courage, and training."

  • Virgin Galactic wants the SS2 to be "very straightforward to handle" and "the Scaled pilots are sure that means the next craft will have stability augmentation."

October 15, 2004

A real space business... This article looks at the prospects for Richard Branson's space tourism startup: Virgin Galactic's Space Odyssey: Richard Branson's plans for suborbital tourism may sound pie-in-the-sky, but he has details all worked out - Business Week - OCt.15.04

I think it's starting to sink in that suborbital space tourism is not like the "factories in low earth orbit" type of hand-waving of the 1980s.

  • There is now an actual working prototype vehicle that proves the concept.

  • There are high-quality market studies showing a sufficient number of customers to support a business plan based on such a vehicle.

  • One company (Space Adventures) has taken deposits for suborbtial space flights already from several dozen people and another company (Virgin Galactic) has had people trying to make reservations even before the company is ready to take them.

There's certainly no proof that it will be a multi-billion dollar business very soon. However, suborbital space tourism looks like it can produce profits in the multi-tens of millions and possibly multi-hundreds of millions of dollars.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed. Regulatory and liability roadblocks could delay flights for many years. A serious recession could greatly diminish the market.

Nevertheless, it sure seems to me that big progress is being made. Within just a few years we have seen proposals of human spaceflight businesses go from wild fantasies to a real market in which serious money is being invested by hard-nosed business people who believe a decent return can be made on that investment.

News briefs... Burt Rutan and his SS1 team get to appreciate a fine automobile: From Elsie to Elise: Spaceshipone designer Burt Rutan takes the latest Lotus out for a spin - AutoWeek - Sept.27.04 (via Cosmic Log) ...

... At the Space Frontier meeting last weekend, the SS1 project and the X PRIZE received honarary awards: X-Prize, SpaceShipOne Receive Awards – Pair "Blew the Hinges Off the Door to the Frontier" - SFF - Oct. 14.04...

... After accepting the award, Burt Rutan proceeded to give an informal talk at the banquet that lasted for more than an hour and half. He spoke about the SS1 project and also on other topics such as how he got interested in spaceflight originally. (One attendee told me that this talk alone was worth the cross-country trip to Long Beach.) Jeff Foust will be reporting on it in one of his upcoming Space Review issues.

October 14, 2004

News briefs... Leonard David spoke with Burt Rutan the day after the final SS1 X PRIZE flight: Burt Rutan: Building 'Tomorrowland' One Launch at a Time - interview with Leonard David - Space.com - Oct.14...

... More about Burt Rutan here: Focus on SpaceShipOne's creator - AFP/iafrica.com - Oct.14.04 (via spacetoday.net)

HS visibility... It's always great to get a plug in Alan Boyle's weblog and to see HS on his link list. Another morale boost came with the latest issue of Space News. Brian Berger has an article about Gary Hudson, whose Air Launch and t/Space startups won $14M in government funding this year. He includes a quote from the interview I did with Gary last year in which Gary said "someone needs to spank NASA..." Berger refers to HobbySpace.com as "an online publication that caters to the entrepreneurial crowd". Glad to hear it has become a crowd.

October 13, 2004

Galactic enthusiasm ... The Virgin Galactic web site has gotten 7.5 million visitors since it opened a couple of weeks ago. About 185 people came in person to the office seeking more information and asking about making reservations: Space adventurers race to get aboard Virgin ship - CNET News.com - Oct.12.04.

October 12, 2004

SS1 briefs... The Scaled Composites web site had posted special pages dedicated to the first and second X PRIZE flights...

... This multimedia viewer - AOL Research and Learn : Ansari X Prize - presents the X PRIZE flight at different angles.

October 11, 2004

News briefs... The latest edition of the Space Review includes the following articles of interest:

... A video of the second SS1 X PRIZE flight has been posted on the Tier One site. (Via a HS reader.)

SS1 roll problem in the first X PRIZE flight is explained in more detail by an article in the latest Aviation Week: SpaceShipOne Wins Ansari X Prize - Aviation Week - Oct.10.04. (A photo of the earth taken by Brian Binnie near apogee is on the cover.)

A slightly negative angle of attack (AOA) at high Mach reduced the directional stability and the SS1 yawed about 8 deg. Then a "strong dihedral effect coupled the yaw into roll, and the nose pitched up about 15 deg. as well, starting a snap roll motion that was uncomfortable for Melvill."

That soon settled into a pure roll at about 180deg./sec. Before aerodynamic controls became useless due to the thinning atmosphere, Melvill was able to reduce the roll to about 140deg./sec using left rudder and rudder trim.

After the engine was shut down and the feather deployed, he was able to use the cold-gas reaction control system to eliminate the roll completely. Rutan was glad to see this tested but noted that it used up most of the gas and said "we don't need to try that again."

For the second flight, a positive AOA was maintained. However, you don't want too much else the craft goes on its back. So a less aggressive pullup was done. These measures successfuly prevented the roll problem.

One other interesting item in the article. With the licensing money from Virgin Galactic plus the X PRIZE purse, the return will nearly match Paul Allen's total investment in the SS1 project. (At the post-flight news conference, however, there was mentioned the possibility that at least some of the purse will be split into bonuses for the Scale Composites team members.)

October 10, 2004

Radio space reports... NPR has also posted several of its reports on the X PRIZE, SpaceShipOne and commercial space development. This includes an interesting hour long show from the latest Science Friday in which "The Future of Private Space Travel" was discussed. Guests included Rick Tumlinson and Bob Haltermann (former executive director, Space Travel and Tourism Division at the Space Transportation Association).

News briefs ... Various articles on commercial spaceflight developments (via spacetoday.net):

October 9, 2004

News briefs ... Alan Boyle profiles Interorbital Systems as an example of an ex-X PRIZE team dealing with the end of the race: Space racers set sights on orbital frontier: After X Prize, some rivals seek more lucrative payoff by Alan Boyle - MSNBC - Oct.8.04 ...

... National Geographic provides a list of fun factoids about the SS1 project: SpaceShipOne Burns Rubber, Laughing Gas - More Fun Facts - National Geographic - Oct.7.04...

... Here's more about the radar tracking system used by the Air Force to follow the SS1: Edwards system monitors SpaceShipOne during flights - Air Force Link - Oct.8.04

October 8, 2004

SS1 articles ... Jeff Foust has posted a special issue of the Space Review in response to the success of the SS1 flight:

Space tourism notes... Here is the kind of customer the alternative space companies need more of: San Diego flight fans hope to find the right stuff in zero-gravity ride - SignOnSanDiego.com - Oct.8.04.

Like many Americans who are considered middle class, if his house is included then his net worth most likely reaches to a few hundred thousand dollars. So while the initial $200k price for a flight on the SS2 would be outside his reach, if the price came down to the $50K range, a flight enthusiast like him would jump at the chance for the experience of a lifetime. And it wouldn't threaten his economic situation any more than if he bought a BMW as a second or third family car.

Despite all the whining, the American middle class is incredibly wealthy both in relative and absolute terms. Per capita GDP has nearly tripled since the start of the Space Age in 1957. See this article and this one for some perspective. ...

... Customers are already lining up for the SS2: First Edinburgh man in space - New Scotsman - Oct.8.04 -

"We’ve had people literally coming up to our doors with cheques for the first flights as well, even though we aren’t taking bookings or deposits yet. Trevor Beattie, who is a very well known advertising guru, actually came out to the Mojave Desert and wrote Richard out a cheque, and we’ve also had Gene Simmons from the rock band Kiss who asked where he could send the money.

"We even had Captain Kirk himself - William Shatner - who said he wanted to be a part of this. It’s been an unbelievable reaction.

... The US has a window of opportunity to take advantage of the technologies created by companies like Scaled Composites but eventually other countries will catch up: Does U.S. have right stuff for space tourism? - baltimoresun.com - Oct.8.04

Black Sky is excellent... Tonight I saw the Discovery Channel program "Black Sky: The Race for Space" about the SS1 project and, as Burt Rutan indicated at the press conference, it really is super. Gives a marvelous insider's view of the struggles and triumphs of the project. It will be shown again on October 10th.

See also Alan Boyle's comments at New light on 'Black Sky' - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Oct.7.04. I also ordered my DVD at Black Sky: The Race for Space DVD -- Discovery Channel Store -- 713826.

News briefs... Here's an AP report on the regulation issues: Space Tourism Faces Safety Regulations - AP/Space.com - Oct.7.04...

... At least Congress could manage to pass a bill honoring the SS1 team: House Passes Resolution Honoring X Prize Recipients - ComSpaceWatch -Oct.7.04...

... L.A. discovers Mojave: Mojave, California: Spaceport - LA CityBEAT / Valley BEAT - Oct.7.04....

... SpaceDev touts its hybrid propulsion system on the SS1: SpaceDev Powers SpaceShipOne To Historic Heights As Well As The Ansari X-Prize Victory - SpaceDev - Oct.4.04.

October 7, 2004

Suborbital science market opening... I've written several times about my efforts to contact various scientists to question them about how they might take advantage of low cost, reusable suborbital spacecraft like the SS1. Unfortunately, most either did not respond at all or gave me a brush-off. Van Allen, for example, sent a canned anti-manned spaceflight response.

One space scientist, who puts experiments on sounding rockets, responded to my specification of a one week turnaround and a $200k price tag with "I don't believe these numbers (either the turnaround or the cost). Similar promises were made about the space shuttle 30 years ago, and they turned out to be grossly overoptimistic."

Now that such performance has in fact been proven by the SpaceShipOne, these kinds of knee-jerk rejections will gradually be replaced by enthusiasm for the new vehicles. Substantially lower costs, rapid re-flight opportunities, safe return of payloads, and nearby operator monitoring will make them irresistible.

Researchers working with sounding rockets in areas such as atmospheric sciences, magnetospherics, astronomy, microgravity, and remote sensing will want to use them. Also, those developing sensors and other equipment for orbital and deep space vehicles will want to carry out suborbital flight tests. (Of course, those who absolutely have go substantially higher than 100-150km will still be stuck with sounding rockets.)

For now, though, their experiments won't be riding on the SS1. Rutan has decided to turn down requests for such services so that he can concentrate on using the vehicle to test technologies for the SS2: 'No experiments' for SpaceShipOne - BBC - Oct.7.04. This leaves an opening for those who are developing vehicles with similar capabilities.

Currently NASA provides only a few tens of millions of dollars for sounding rockets, but that's still a decent sized market for vehicles that are developed for only a few tens of millions of dollars. In addition, other agencies like NOAA and DOD want to fly suborbital experiments. DARPA, for example, was one of those trying to arrange for rides on the SS1.

While waiting for the regulation/liability situation with regard to passenger flight to work itself out, science/engineering payloads could offer a substantial interim bridge market.

Tracking and filming the SS1... Ron Dantowitz and Marek Kozubal are known here for their detailed photos of spacecraft in orbit with ground based amateur telescopes. They were able use those same skills to track and film the SS1. Here are their web pages about the September 29th flight and the October 4th flight and they also got on the radio: Filming the X-Prize, from Far Below - NPR - Oct.5.04.

News briefs... Irene Klotz reports on the next Rutan spaceship: The Birth of SpaceShipTwo - SpaceDaily - Oct.5.04 ...

... Columnist Max Boot notes the success of the private space entrepreneurs: Space, the Final Free Market: The success of SpaceShipOne means the sky's no limit for the private sector. - LA Times - Oct.7.04 ...

... Similar comments at The Triumph of Truth and Technology by Michael Potter and Rick Tumlinson - SpaceDaily - Oct.6.04 ...

... The complete broadcast of the SpaceShow from Mojave on Oct. 5th for the second X PRIZE flight is now online at SS1 X2 Flight - The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston and Patrick Beatty, Thomas A. Olson ...

... Rand Simberg answers questions about the significance of the flight in this 6 minute interview with Warren Olney: Radio Interview Link - Transterrestrial Musings - Oct.6.04 ...

... The X PRIZE Cup has its first major corporate sponsor: International Fuel Technology Looks to the Stars as the First Major Sponsor of the X PRIZE CUP - International Fuel Technology Oc.4.04

October 6, 2004

SS1 impressions... Joan Horvath posts her report on SpaceShipOne's prize winning flight. This is the third in her series on the SS1 flights in which she has focused on the people and the mood of the events. See the previous reports from June 21st and the first X PRIZE flight on Sept.29th.

XCOR party... I saw Joan at the XCOR part on Sunday night, where she did a fine job pushing the firing button on the company's famous Tea Cart Engine:

Tea Cart Engine Setup
Doug Jones (seated) sets up the Tea Cart engine while Joan (standing) watches carefully.

Tea Cart Engine Firing
Joan fires the engine. Excuse the blurred image. The noise was blowing out my ears at the time.

My thanks to XCOR for the excellent party and the open house access to the EZ-Rocket and their other fine creations.

EZ Rocket and Andrew Case
Andrew Case stands by the business end
of the EZ-Rocket.

SS1 flight news... This Thursday the Discovery Channel to Air Exclusive Footage of Aviation Pioneer Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne Capturing the $10 Million X Prize - SpaceRef - Oct.5.04...

... Burt Rutan is now racing to develop a safe, low cost space tourism vehicle: Branson says space tourism is three years away - Spaceflight Now - Oct.4.04 ...

... 7 UP will release details in 2005 about its space tourism contest but it did give out a cute flyer at the post-flight news conference: 7 UP to Offer Free Space Flight - X PRIZE Space Race News! - Oct.4.04

SS1 X2 flight pictures:

X PRIZE Cup news... Here are some articles about the X PRIZE Cup:

October 5, 2004

On the road... Connected to a wireless network at Long Beach Airport. Really amazing to get a broadband link just sitting here waiting to board. (Hope I'm not taking back lots of worms and viruses as souveniers!). [1:30am Oct.6th - Well, not totally amazing. I could download material but couldn't upload anything for some reason. Anyway, now that I'm back home I will upload this before beginning today's updates.]

At the press conference, Burt Rutan couldn't say enough good things about the Discovery Channel documentary - Black Sky: The Race for Space - on the SS1 project. He had his whole team over to watch it at his home on Sunday night. (The vehicles were all preped, fueled and ready to go the next morning.) He said the program captured the essence of what an incredibly tough job it was to develop the Tier One project.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it but it looks like it will be repeated next Sunday. There will also be an update on the X PRIZE this Thursday: Race for Space - Discovery Channel for time info.

I just looked at spacetoday.net and there are three and half pages of links for today and they are almost all about the SS1 flight. These two chosen at random are quite interesting: Left in the dust - Florida Today - Oct.05.04 * Space invaders: SpaceShipOne wins the X-Prize: SpaceShipOne has become the first privately funded craft to reach space. It could be your turn next - Economist.com - Oct.5.04

Boarding is about to start so I will log off. Regular posting tomorrow and more comments about the X2 flight.

October 4, 2004

Some SS1 snapshots... Manage to get a pass into the VIP area along with a couple of thousand other people:

... This sequence shows the contrail of the SS1 splitting off from that of the White Knight. The small contrail is that of one of the three chase planes.

SS1 Ignites
SS1 Accelerating
SS1  higher...
and higher


In the SS1 newsroom... Alan Boyle and Leonard David are sitting a couple of tables away in the media room so I should probably link to their stories: SpaceShipOne wins $10 million X Prize Flight also bests X-15 altitude record - MSNBC - Oct.4.04 * SpaceShipOne Wins $10 Million Ansari X Prize in Historic 2nd Trip to Space - Space.com - Oct.4.04.

And Bill Harwood is sitting a few meters away form me: SpaceShipOne soars to $10 million X Prize - Spaceflight Now - Oct.4.04. I just met Maggie McKee of New Scientist: SpaceShipOne wins X Prize for spaceflight - New Scientist * Oct.4.04...

... More links at Space Race News and spacetoday.net....

... John Carmack reflects on Armadillo's X PRIZE efforts in his latest update: X-Prize, Engine work, Vehicle work - Armadillo Aerospace - Oct.3.04...

... Here are Jeff Foust's photos from the first flight and comments on the event.

Risky undercurrent... The unexpectedly rapid rolling in the Sept.29th flight left a lot of people a bit worried about the next flight. I think Burt in turn was annoyed that reporters made such a big deal about it. When today's flight went so flawlessly it seemed almost anticlimatic. In the press conference, Burt said that his goal for the vehicle for Virgin Galactic is to achieve reliabilty higher than that of the first commercial airliners.

Here Jeff Foust comments on the risks that the suborbital industry must deal with: Dealing with the risks of space tourism - The Space Review - Oct.4.04.

SpaceShipOne Wins the X PRIZE!!

SS1 does it again... I saw history in the making today. It was a marvelous experience to be here to witness such a flawless spaceflight. The roll problem from Wednesday was fixed (a report on the technical details about changes in the trajectory and other operations will be released later) and the vehicle reached a record setting altitude - 367,442 ft (112km), beating the highest altitude flown by the X-15.

At the news conference, X PRIZE judge Rick Searfoss said that the SS1 fulfilled all the competition requirements to win the full $10M purse. The money and trophy will be awarded at an official ceremony in St. Louis on Nov. 6th. The X PRIZE contest was inaugurated in St. Louis on May 18, 1996.

What a great feeling. Like many space enthusiasts from the 60s, I've waited a long, long time to observe a genuine victory in the long struggle to bring spaceflight closer to the reach of the private individual. This was really a big step towards making that happen.

I'm heading to a victory party now and will try to add updates later today. Regular postings will continue on Wednesday.

Jeff Foust has posted lots of links to articles about the flight.

October 3, 2004

Heading to Mojave... I hope that I can find a connection while I'm there and can post on the pre-flight happenings as well as the flight itself. See the above list of webcasters for video, audio, and text reports during the flight.

The procedure should go as before:

  1. White Knight with the SpaceShipOne will takeoff from the Mojave Spaceport at 7:00 a.m. local time (10.00 a.m. EDT; 1400 GMT).
  2. About an hour later White Knight will reach an altitude of nearly 50,000 feet where SS1 is dropped at 8:00 a.m. PDT (11:00 a.m. EDT; 1500 GMT)
  3. and SS1 ignites its rocket engine
  4. Powered flight of about 80 seconds
  5. SpaceShipOne coasts up to an altitude of at least 62 miles and then reenters the atmosphere
  6. Glides to a landing on the Mojave runway by 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT; 1530 GMT)

A press conference will be at 10:30 a.m. PDT (1:30p.m. EDT, 1730 GMT).


SS1 news briefs... Scaled has posted a video of the September 29th flight...

... Lots of school kids coming to watch the flight: 40 buses heading for SpaceShipOne liftoff - AV Press - Oct.2.04 (via a HS reader) ...

... Private space companies are getting down to business: Can Do Private Space Companies Set Tone for Future Spaceflight - SpaceRef - Oct.2.04 ...

... More on the SS1 roll: SpaceShipOne Rolling Rumors: Rutan Sets the Record Straight by Leonard David - Space.com - Oct.2.04 * Why SpaceShipOne spun - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Oct.2.04...

... Another report on the SS1 program: SpaceShipOne: One down, one to go: A private rocket takes its first flight toward winning the $10 million X-Prize by Bill McCoy - Astronomy -Oct.2.04 (Via spacetoday.net)

October 2, 2004

News briefs... NASA TV will definitely provide a webcast of Monday's flight. (via a HS reader.) ...

... Alan Boyle gives a list of books coming out about the X PRIZE and some of the rocket projects: Real-life rocket tales - CosmicLog/MSNBC - Oct.1.04.

SS1 roll report... Once Mike Melvill used the reaction control system thrusters (RCS), the rolling stopped: Burt provides some preliminary information about the rolling motions seen on the First X-Prize Flight - Scaled Composites - Oct.1.04. (Via a HS reader.)

SS1 webcasts... A HS reader notes that NASA TV may not webcast flight 2 as it did with flight 2 since there is a Soyuz Expedition 10 press conference scheduled for Monday morning. However, another alternative stream is from the Science Channel.

October 1 , 2004

News briefs... Here's a very nice video of the SS1 flight that includes shots from the onboard camera: www.spaceflightnow.com/launch.mov. (Via Coding In Paradise) ...

... Jim Benson of SpaceDev talks about the SS1 engine and the Dream Chaser suborbital vehicle project in a SpaceShow interview on Sept.28th...

... This article gives a brief explanation of the dihedral effect and how it might have caused the SS1 roll: SpaceShipOne: Monday Launch Is On - Wired - Oct.1.04...

... More NASA response: NASA Official Sees Role in Space for Private Companies - VOA - Oct.1.04 * NASA Brass Laud X Prize as Natural Extention of Agency's Work by Leonard David - Space.com - Oct.1.04...

... More pictures of SS1 flight one by Alan Radecki: page 1, page 2.

News briefs ... The official altitude for SS1 and Mike Melvill: It's Official: X-Prize officials say Mike Melvill climbed to 337,500 feet this morning - X PRIZE - Sept.30.04 ...

... Here's an interesting report from the Cal Space Authority on the sophisticated radar system used to track the SS1: SPADS Parallels Pioneering Effort of SpaceShipOne as SS1 Clears the First Hurdle - CSA - Sept.30.04...

... Sean O'Keefe congratulates the SS1 team: NASA Salutes Spaceshipone Team After Second Flight - NASA HQ - Sept.29.04....

... I didn't know till afterwards that NASA TV was also webcasting the flight. I assume they will do it again on Monday. Here is the NASA TV main page ...

Heading for Mojave... I will be attending the flight on Monday and will try to post from there if possible. Unfortunately, I have not been given press credentials (blog discrimination!) but expect it will be a great experience regardless of where I watch it from. [Update: Looks like I am in fact on the media list. Got a Press Info Sheet in the email today. Just need to get there in time on Sunday to register.] ...

.... See you at the "all night" Rock Concert sponsored by Apogee Books for members of the National Space Society (do I have to bring my NSS ID?). They are showcasing the new book Space Tourism by John Spencer.

More SS1 news... Here are additional articles (mostly via spacetoday.net) on the announcement of the second flight:

Second X PRIZE Flight - Monday October 4th

No delay for space flight... Just got this message via the X PRIZE newsletter distribution:

Dear X PRIZE Members-

As you may know, yesterday, Burt Rutan's Mojave Aerospace Ventures Team successfully reached an altitude of 337,500 feet with Mike Melvill (the pilot) onboard plus ballast (approx. 180 Kg). This flight was deemed by the Judges as a successful first flight for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE.

We have just received official notice from Burt Rutan that SpaceShipOne's second flight (X2) will take place Monday morning, October 4th. Expected flight timeline:

* Takeoff at 7am PT
* Ignition at 8am PT
* Landing at 8:30am PT
* Press Conference to announce official Altitude at 10:30am PT

The entire flight can be viewed LIVE at www.xprize.org on our global webcast.

Please spread the word to your friends. Tune in and help us celebrate the birth of the Personal Spaceflight Revolution!


Peter H. Diamandis
Chairman & Founder X PRIZE Foundation

More SS1 news... Apparently there was no information released with the announcement of Monday's flight about the analysis of the roll on the SS1 flight...

... Alan Boyle reports on the announcement: All systems go for prize-winning space launch SpaceShipOne to go ahead with planned Monday flight - MSNBC Sept.30.04...

... October 4th will be the 47th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite. By chance, in my Sputnik links I had this article from 1997 by Alan: Sputnik started space race, anxiety: 40 years later, Cold War rivals cooperate in space ventures - MSNBC - Oct.4.97.

News briefs... Alan Boyle ponders the future of spaceflight in the aftermath of the SS1 X PRIZE flight:The space road ahead - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.30.04 ...

... Brad Stone at Newsweek wants prices for suborbital flights to come down: A Small Step for Private Space Travel: SpaceShipOne rolled to victory today, but the nascent space-tourism industry hasn't soared yet. Increased competition could help the business get off the ground - MSNBC/Newsweek - Sept.29.04 ....

... The Economist reports on Virgin space tourism: Space tourism: Virgin Territory: Sir Richard Branson aims for the moon - Economist.com - Sept.30.04...

... This article looks at the risks of these early days of commercial spaceflight: Want to travel on a private space jet? Pack nerves of steel. - csmonitor.com - Sept.30.04

September 30, 2004

Mojave, Round One, September 29th, 2004 - Joan Horvath reports on the SpaceShipOne X PRIZE flight event.

News briefs... More SS1 articles:

SpaceShipOne flight info... SS1 reached 337,500 ft.( 63.9miles, 102.9km): SpaceShipOne Surpasses 100 Km Altitude on First X-Prize Flight - Scaled Composites - Sept.29.04 ...

... Announcement of date for next flight is expected by Thursday evening.

Event and flight re-runs... Here are links to where you can watch and/or hear the whole event or just the flight:

SS1 flight news links... Here is a selection of articles and commentaries on the flight:

See Spacetoday.net and ANSARI X PRIZE Space Race News! for more article links.

New X PRIZE sponsors... Here is the official announcement of the M&M sponsership: M&M'S Brand and The Ansari X Prize announce an "out-of-this-world" partnership -- literally. - ANSARI X PRIZE - Sept.29.04. The M&M's has a XPRIZE page...

... The X PRIZE home page also shows a 7-UP Plus banner but I don't see an announcement about the sponsorship yet.

September 29, 2004

News briefs... The Mission Status Center at Spaceflight Now has excerpts from the post-flight news conference. Still no explanation for the roll...

... More about commercial spaceflight development: Prizes, Profit Could Fuel Private Space Race - Voice of America - Sept.29.04....

... More awards for Scaled Composites: X-Prize, Scaled Composites to Receive Awards – Space Frontier Foundation to Recognize "Revolutionary" Space Efforts - Space Frontier Foundation - Sept.27.04.

First SpaceShipOne X PRIZE Flight a Success!

Exceeds 100km limit... The cause of a fast roll at the end of the burn must be determined before a date for second flight is scheduled.

9:55am Latest updates at SS1 News - Mission Status Center at Spaceflight Now

9:30am: Melvill to pilot SS1 again... Experience counts: Melvill to fly SpaceShipOne - Spacetoday.net - Sept.29.04.

2:05am: SpaceShipOne mission schedule... Winds permitting, the flight should go as follows:

  1. White Knight with the SpaceShipOne will taxi to the runway at California's Mojave airport at 6:30 a.m. local time (9:30 a.m. EDT; 1330 GMT).
  2. Airborne around 6:45 a.m. PDT (9:45 a.m. EDT; 1345 GMT).
  3. About an hour later White Knight will reach an altitude of nearly 50,000 feet where SS1 is dropped at 7:45 a.m. PDT (10:45 a.m. EDT; 1445 GMT)
  4. and SS1 ignites its rocket engine
  5. Powered flight of about 80 seconds
  6. SpaceShipOne coasts up to an altitude of at least 62 miles and then reenters the atmosphere
  7. Glides to a landing on the Mojave runway by 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT; 1530 GMT)

X PRIZE news briefs ... The media around the world is full of articles about the flight and the X PRIZE. Examples:

See Spacetoday.net and ANSARI X PRIZE Space Race News! for lots more...

... Alan's article reports that the American Mojave Aerospace Ventures deal with Virgin is non-exclusive. AMAV managing director David Moore said, "I've actually had four other parties approach us." ...

... The SS1 will again carry look back cameras from Ecliptic Enterprises: Ecliptic's RocketCam Featured in Live Webcast of SpaceShipOne X Prize Flight on Sep 29 - Ecliptic Enterprises - Sept.28.04. See their Gallery for a clip from the June 21st flight...

... All the publicity is starting a snowball effect. Now other sponsors want to jump in. New X Prize sponsors - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.28.04. Note that Melvill's release of M&Ms got the attention of Mars, Inc. (Guess they didn't want Hershey's to grab another space related publicity event: M&M's Loss Was Hershey's Gain with E.T.)

Commercial space investing... The Virgin announcement is getting the attention of investors who are wondering if space tourism will grow into a big industry: Virgin Starts (70) Mile-High Club [Motley Fool Take] - Fool.com - Sept.28.04. Not very active yet, but Motley Fool has a forum for spaceflight businesses: The Motley Fool Discussion Boards: Space Exploration & Terraforming

September 28, 2004

News briefs... Tonight the Space Show features "the return of Jim Benson, Founding Chairman and Chief Executive of SpaceDev, a publicly traded space development and exploration company. SpaceDev specializes in affordable, high-performance small satellites and safe, affordable hybrid-based rocket motor propulsion systems. ..." Online at Live365 at at 7-8:15pm Pacific Time

X PRIZE TV... Don't forget the upcoming TV shows about the X PRIZE: Discovery Channel to air documentary on Mojave Aerospace Ventures team - X PRIZE - Sept.26.04. Part 1: October 3rd, 9 p.m. EST, Part 2: October 7th, 9 p.m (Check local listings for starting times in your area.).

As HS reader R. Burmeister says, "Finally! Something on the Discovery Channel that doesn't have to do with building motorcycles."

News briefs... Alan Boyle reports on the momentum building in commercial space development: Private space race reaches its height: Visionaries already looking beyond $10 millon prize - MSNBC - Sept.27.04....

...The Financial Times reports on Branson's space tourism plans: Virgin plans space tourism by 2007 - FT - Sept.27.04 * Branson aims to make space flights his star turn - Financial Times - Sept.27.04

September 27, 2004

News briefs... More on the da Vinci flight delay: Last-minute delay for X Prize rival - New Scientist - Sept.27.04...

... A profile of Mojave California: Space Town: Mojave's isolation, can-do spirit work to its advantage in race to the stars. - FresnoBee.com - Sept.27.04 (via spacetoday.net)...

... More Virgin news: Branson reaches for the stars - Guardian - Sept.27.04...

... The instapundit talks about the X PRIZE: X-Prize News - MSNBC/GlennReynolds - Sept.27.04.

Virgin update... BBC reports that Branson will order five vehicles from MAV, each capable of carrying five passengers: Virgin boss in space tourism bid - BBC - Sept.27.04."The final design for the maiden ship, the VSS Enterprise, should be signed off in 2005." Also,

"Every passenger will have a spectacular view; they will have considerable windows and luxurious seats," Sir Richard said.

"Initially, they will take off from the Mojave Desert near Los Angeles. It will be a three-hour journey. Passengers would have about a week's training prior to taking off."

Virgin, known for great marketing if nothing else, finds that there is a substantial market even at $200k per ticket:

"We've done quite a lot of research; we think there are about 3,000 people out there who would want to do this," Sir Richard told the BBC.

"If it is a success, we want to move into orbital flights and then, possibly, even get a hotel up there."

... News wire report on the announcement: Virgin Galactic to Offer Public Space Flights - Space.com/AP - Sept.27.04

More news... Leonard David reports on the upcoming SS1 flight: Set to Soar: First X Prize Flight This Week By Leonard David - Space.com - Sept.27.04 ...

... More fuel for this flight: No Major Engine Changes for SpaceShipOne, Builder Says - Space.com - Sept.27.04

Virgin Space Tourism!

Richard Branson enters suborbital space tourism business... Richard Branson, head of Virgin Group, has made an agreement with Mojave Aerospace Ventures to build a suborbital vehicle for space tourism: Virgin boss in space tourism bid - BBC - Sept.27.04. Mojave Aerospace Ventures is the company formed by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen to exploit the SS1 technology. The deal is worth £14M [$25.2M].

The announcement was made on Monday at a joint news conference with Branson and Rutan at Royal Aeronautical Society in London.

"Virgin has been in talks with Paul Allen and Burt throughout this year and in the early hours of Saturday morning signed a historical deal to license SpaceShipOne's technology to build the world's first private spaceship to go into commercial operating service," Sir Richard said.

"Virgin Galactic will be run as a business, but a business with the sole purpose of making space travel more and more affordable."

According to the BBC, "Prices for each seat into space are expected to start at around £115,000. [$207,000]."

The web site for the company Virgin Galactic says that it "will own and operate privately built spaceships, modelled on the history-making SpaceShipOne craft. These spaceships will allow affordable sub-orbital space tourism for the first time in our history."...

... The article British Tycoon Branson Unveils Plan For Commercial Space Flights - AFP/SpaceDaily - Sept.27.04 also reports on the announcement. Branson said at the briefing,

"We plan to construct launch pads for commercial space travel in a number of countries over the next few years."

The ticket price will include "three days of flight training before taking the real trip." [The Virgin Galactic site, though, talks of six days of preparation.]

Branson also said,

"Burt and I will be fortunate enough to have fulfilled our own personal dreams and to experience all of this on the inaugural flight over Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise in three years' time."

... Scaled Composites press release... On the SS1 web site there is also this announcement: Virgin Group Sign Deal with Paul G. Allen’s Mojave Aerospace Licensing the Technology To Develop The World’s First Commercial Space Tourism Operator - TierOne/Scaled Composites - London, September 27th 2004.

It says that

"The licensing deal with M.A.V. [Mojave Aerosapce Ventures] could be worth up to £14 million ($21.5 million) over the next fifteen years depending on the number of spaceships built by Virgin."


"It is expected that around £60 million ($100 million) will be invested in developing the new generation of spaceships and ground infrastructure required to operate a sub orbital space tourism experience."

News briefs ... Info on the flight day: SpaceShipOne chases $10 million: Rutan's rocket ready to go - Valley Press - Sept.26.04 (permanent copy at ANSARI X PRIZE Space Race News!)

September 26, 2004

X PRIZE news briefs... Space Race News has posted the latest X PRIZE Newsletter, which includes items about several of the teams....

... Houston hears about a different space program for a change: SpaceShipOne just two flights from the X Prize: Rutan's privately built spacecraft made successful manned mission into space in June - HoustonChronicle.com - Sept.26.04 ( via spacetoday.net) ...

... This article talks about the Mojave airport and the "nine companies [...] working on space-related projects" there: Space cowboys writing next chapter in history of flight: Second trip beyond Earth's atmosphere is set for Wednesday - Tri-Valley Herald Online - Sept.26.04 ( via spacetoday.net)

September 25, 2004

X PRIZE news briefs... BBC profiles Burt Rutan: Rutan ready to realise vision - BBC - Sept.25.04...

... While CNN looks at the broader picture of the creation of a space tourism industry:. Space tourist industry bets on a dream: For some, blastoff may be right around the corner - CNN.com - Sept.24.04.

Space blog reporting ... Brad Neuberg, a volunteer with the Ansari X Prize Foundation on the Media Relations team, brings up the question of giving space bloggers press credentials for the upcoming flights as well as future events: Lets Get Press Credentials for Bloggers at the X Prize Foundation Launch Attempt - Coding In Paradise - Sept.24.04.

This is obviously of interest to me and I hope something can be arranged. (I will be attending the second SS1 flight, tentatively set for the 5th and I've applied for credentials.) Many blogs and private web sites receive visitor traffic rates comparable to that of the readerships of small to medium size town newspapers. Seems arbitrary to give credentials to reporters from the former but not the latter.

Also, enthusiast publications, such as in car racing and other sports, usually get favorable treatment at events in the area of interest. For spaceflight enthusiasts, the dedicated publications are almost entirely on the web.

I can see, of course, that there are practical problems. For the print media, there are credible measures for the number of readers while for web sites there is no universal independent traffic indicator. The cost of entry in web publishing is quite low so offering credentials to anyone with a space blog or news site would produce a flood of requests.

Perhaps a ranking system could be developed. For example, the X PRIZE could ask its newsletter readers to enter a short list of their favorite sites and then the 3 or 4 with the most votes would be offered credentials.

September 24, 2004

X PRIZE news briefs... More from Eli Kintisch regarding the X PRIZE and the SS1 flight:

SS1 webcasts... For the SS1 flight on Sept. 29th, webcasting should be more elaborate and robust than for the June 21st flight when many people had trouble getting a connection. The X PRIZE will offer its own stream via the X PRIZE Webcast Page. Also, The Space Show plans to webcast again. I will keep a list of stream sites posted at the top of the page here.

September 23, 2004

X PRIZE news briefs... The revolution will be televised (at least on the Web): ANSARI X PRIZE Flight Attempt 9/29/04 X PRIZE - Sept.22.04 - AOL partners with the ANSARI X PRIZE to webcast the $10 million competition flights at www.xprize.org/webcast...

... Eli Kintisch at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is writing an interesting series on the history of the X PRIZE beginning with yesterday's A new space race - St.Louis Dispatch - Sept.21.04. Here are today's articles:

Another article will appear tomorrow. (Links via spacetoday.net)....

... Photoshop-pers get creative, funny and weird with the SS1: SpaceShipOne gets more nitrous, thrust. Pimp it out to give it even more power - FARK.com. (Via BoingBoing)

September 22, 2004

News briefs... A profile of former astronaut Rick Searfoss who works as chief judge for the X Prize competition: Space Race 2 Beyond The Final Frontier by Irene Klotz - UPI/SpaceDaily - Sept.21.04...

... A history of the X PRIZE project: A new space race - St.Louis Dispatch - Sept.21.04. "Some of the leading citizens of our community have too much money and too little sense." said the Post-Dispatch's Bill McClellan in 1996 about those investing in the project.

X PRIZE news... Space Race News interviews Robert K. Weiss who is helping the X PRIZE organize its broadcasting and webcasting of the SS1 flights: ...

... The buildup to the countdown begins: X PRIZE countdown enters final days - X PRIZE - Sept.20.04...

September 21, 2004

SpaceShipOne documentary... The Discovery Channel will broadcast about Burt Rutan and the SS1 project:

Black Sky: The Race for Space

For the past three decades, Burt Rutan has produced one new research airplane per year. Considered one of the most influential aircraft designers, Rutan is building SpaceShipOne, a personal space vehicle.

They will broadcast this two hour program, which will focus on the June 21 flight, first on Oct. 3rd at 9 pm and repeat it on Oct 4th at 12:00 am and on Oct 10 at 04:00 PM.

They will also show a one hour update on the X PRIZE on Oct 7th at 09:00 PM and repeat it on Oct 8th at 12:00 am.

(Via an HS reader.)

SS1 site updates... HS visitor, C. Dorrough, notes that the Scaled site has updated the General Information page (I had not seen, for example, this Scaled Newsletter for the April 2003 rollout). And also the Gallery photos are nicely organized.

September 20, 2004

SpaceShipOne updates... Valley Press posts a couple of articles about the SS1 (or SSO, as they call it) and the recent meeting of the The Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

(Note: AV Press only posts articles for a few days. Space Race News is posting copies of the first and second articles.)...

... The Mojave Spaceport is gearing up for the first X PRIZE flight for the SS1. Here's the most recent NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) :

Mojave Airport will be engaged in spaceport operations 29 September 04 between 0500L and 1200L, with potential extensions through 13 October 04.

Aircraft will be PPR (prior permission required) for landing beginning 1600 28 September 04. Mojave Airport tower will be in operation Tuesday 28 September 04 from 0700L TO 2000L. Ramp space is extremely limited and PPR aircraft are encouraged to bring their own tiedown devices.

Mojave Airport tower will open at 0500L 29 September 04 and remain open until 1700L. Follow-me truck available on 29 September 04 between 0500-0615.

IAW FAR 91.143 Mojave Airport TFR in effect surface to 20,000 MSL, 7NM radius around KMHV. 0600L-0900L 29 September 04. Contact KMHV tower on 127.6 or Joshua approach on 133.65 for TFR updates.

Stuart Witt, General Manager

These three items via a regular HS visitor.

September 8, 2004

News brief... Brief update from Alan Boyle on the X PRIZE competition: Space race update- Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Sept.7.04

September 7, 2004

News brief... More press attention for the X PRIZE and private space development: Gentlemen, Start Your Rockets: The race for space is heating up as private outfits head for the launchpad - Business Week - Sept.13.04 issue.

August 30, 2004

News briefs... An interview with SS1 pilot Mike Melvill can be heard (real audio) online via the archive for the Dr. Sky Show (an Arizona radio program hosted by Steve Kates)...

... Still time to get your name on the X PRIZE flights of the SS1: Deadline to get a name in space extended - Alamogordo News - Aug.28.04 (via spacetoday.net)

August 13, 2004

News briefs... Leonard David provides an interesting overview of prospects for the private manned rocket projects: Space Barnstorming: The Risk and Rewards For Private Rocketeers - Space.com - Aug.13.04 ...

... I don't know when they were posted but there have been some nice photos added to the SpaceShipOne Gallery since the last time I looked. They include aerial views of the crowd that came to see the June 21st flight...

August 9, 2004

SS1 flight details are given in the latest issue of Aviation Week: Exclusive Chart Shows How SpaceShipOne Left, Reentered The Atmosphere - Aviation Week - Aug.9.04 (subscription required). The chart (which I can't legally reprint here) shows altitude, speed, pitch and other parameters versus time.

An interesting aspect of the flight involves how they deal with the asymmetric thrust caused by uneven erosion of the nozzle. They compensate for this with aerodynamic trim, which works as long as there is sufficient atmosphere and speed relative to it. (Vectoring of the engine was not implemented so as to keep things simple and low weight.)

"The trick is to have the thrust taper off as the craft eases out of the atmosphere, slowly enough so that the pilot can keep up with the trim changes as the airspeed drops. Making the engine burn as long as possible reduces the g forces and speed of events the pilot has to cope with. The natural falloff of thrust due to the oxidizer transition from liquid to gas is suited to these control requirements. If one wanted to double the apogee, it would have to be done by doubling the thrust, not doubling the length of the burn."

August 6, 2004

The X PRIZE effect... The contest may lead to a "boom market" for suborbital spaceflight: Eyes on the Space Prize: Fat cash awards may be just the ticket to privatize the space industry. Many wonder what took so long. - Technology Review - Aug.8.04 (via a HS reader.)

August 5, 2004

Burt's going to space... Burt Rutan plans to ride in the SS1: Rutan aims to be on X-Prize flight - BBC - Aug.5.04. "...I am going to be one of the first passengers, for sure".

August 4, 2004

SS1 briefs... Here's an informal report on Burt Rutan's presentations at Oshkosh...

... Rutan pushes for access to space sooner than the constant 30 years from now: Rutan says NASA should hurry: Aviation legend pushes private space travel - Florida Today - Aug.3.04:

"And if the business-as-usual space developers continue their decades-long pace, they will be gazing from the slow lane as we speed into the new Space Age -- this time not for prestige, but this time to fulfill people's dreams."

August 3, 2004

News briefs... The X PRIZE has a Flash-y new web site. (Hope you have broadband.) ...

... Space Race News posts the August X PRIZE Newsletter. Includes updates on several teams

SS1 news... Burt Rutan and Mike Melvill wow the audience at Oshkosh.Rutan and Melvill Tell SpaceShipOne Story - EAA AirVenture - July.31.04 (link via a HS reader). Some items from the article:

He said he had thought that it would be easier to develop the suborbital system than it turned out to be. “For example,” he said, “I didn’t know I would have to build a rocket system.”
“We had two small shops competing against each other in the hope one of them could do it.” In the end both shops delivered usable systems, and the one that was selected was only better by a few percent.
Rutan spoke about how the program is now over a year behind schedule. “But no one knew it, because I never told anyone what the schedule was.” His advice: “Don’t even tell your customer what your schedule is.”
The audience was delighted when Rutan described his idea of bringing the White Knight and SpaceShipOne to a future EAA AirVenture. A lottery would be held and two lucky attendees would get to take a ride into space, which would launch from the Wittman runway at the start of the afternoon air show, rocket into space over Lake Winnebago midway through the show, and recover in front of the crowd at the end.

... The SS1 may carry passengers instead of ballast on the second flight: Space Race II: A ticket to ride - UPI - Aug.3.04 -

Burt Rutan said the passenger list is quite long. "There are some significant opportunities and some significant folks who are on that list," he said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to talk about that later on. There is an enormous passion for people to fly, not just citizens, but journalists and scientists."

In addition to passengers, Rutan also is considering flying small payloads. Four organizations, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, have approached Scaled Composites about flying items aboard SpaceShipOne.

Although it is a prototype headed for the Smithsonian, I think this very first manned suborbital spaceship already could start making real money by selling rides to orbit for scientific and engineering payloads.

That brings up an interesting question. If a scientist rides along to monitor and control a payload, is he or she counted as a paying passenger by FAA-AST or as a crew member? I believe the regulations that apply are different.

News briefs... Unfortunately, they won't be on line for long but here are a couple of nice articles from the Antelope Valley Press about SS1 inspired merchandising in Mojave: SpaceShipOne mania! T-shirts, hats flying off shelves * Souvenir rock from launch site sells on eBay (links via a HS reader)...

... Alan Boyles readers comment on the SS1 and the X PRIZE: How does the X Prize rate? - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - July.30.04

July 29, 2004

Post card brief... Just got back to Sweden from a two day round trip cruise to Helsinki. The ride through the Stockholm archipelago on an evening bathed in the northern summer light was marvelous.

I see that the X PRIZE press conference revealed some exciting news about the SpaceShipOne schedule. It will be tough to decide which of the flights I will try to attend. Jeff Foust posted several links to several articles about the announcement in this item: Scaled announces X Prize flight plans - spacetoday.net - July.27.04 and has many others included in his daily space news list at spacetoday.net. Also, check out the X PRIZE Space Race News postings.

July 26, 2004

News briefs....Burt Rutan and Mike Melvill to give talks at Oshkosh: EAA AirVenture takes flight for the future - Milwaukee Journal - July.25.04 (via spacetoday.net) ...

... Alan Boyle reports on progress with HR3752: All systems go for new spaceflight law Compromise reached on suborbital regulations - MSNBC - July.23.04...

... Tomorrow's news conference should be interesting to hear not only about the SS1 flight dates but also what da Vinci is planning: Secrecy shrouds space launch Toronto man mum on U.S. competition Expected to vie for $10 million prize - TheStar.com - July.26.04 (via Space Race News.com)

July 22, 2004

News brief... The da Vinci Project plans to give Burt some competition: Space Race Competition Heats Up - SpaceDaily - July.20.04 * 2 teams may announce X Prize plans - Florida Today - July.22.04 ...

...There will be a fight to restore funding for the space initiative projects: Analysis: NASA vote opens new space debate by Frank Sietzen - UPI - July.21.04

July 21, 2004

X PRIZE press conference next week will announce the start of a 60 day countdown to the start of flights to win the prize: X Prize countdown begins - Alan Boyle: Cosmic Log - July.21.04 *- X Prize announcement planned next week - spacetoday.net - July.21.04.

"one or more competing teams may announce plans to conduct flights to win the prize. The press conference is scheduled for Tuesday morning, July 27, in Santa Monica, California, according to a media advisory issued Wednesday."

Update: X Prize Hints At Space Race By Leonard David - Space.com - July.21.04

July 15. 2004

News brief ... Check out the new video (10.5MB wmv) of flight 15P on the SS1 site.

July 13, 2004

The SpaceShow archive now holds the Space Ship One Broadcast from June 21, 2004. This special Space Show program featured author John Carter McKnight (of "The Spacefaring Web" commentaries) on location and David Livingston in San Francisco. The original three hour and forty minute broadcast has been edited to one hour, 45 minutes. David assures "all the listeners that this is the full broadcast of the events this historic morning".

July 9, 2004

SS1 X PRIZE flight in September according to Mike Melvill, who was interviewed yesterday on the MSNBC show "Deborah Norville Tonight" : X Prize attempt in late September - MSNBC/Cosmic Log (Lori Smith filling in for Alan Boyle) - July.9.04. See also item at spacetoday.net....

... And there are no plans for another test flight before the X PRIZE flights: Now Boarding! SpaceShipOne Paves Way for Passengers? By Leonard David - Space.com - July.9.04

July 7, 2004

September in space... Scaled Composites has determined the causes of the two serious problems during the June 21 flight. Burt Rutan now says the "flight-control anomaly" ... was not serious." Wind shear during the ascent caused the vehicle to go off course. They are now planning for the first X PRIZE flight: SpaceShipOne Back on Course - Wired - July.7.04.

SS1 arts ... The FoxTrot team goes after the X PRIZE: 1, 2, 3 (Item via Jon Goff) ...

... SpaceShipOne - the musical . Sing along to Rutan Spaceship by Chuck Devine - Samzidata.net and Spaceship Yourself by Terence Chua.

July 5, 2004

SS1 news... A HS reader forwarded a link to the excellent report by Mark Wade on the SpaceShipOne project at astronautix.com. (As the reader noted, check out the explanation of the tail number.)...

... More pictures of the Space Woodstock: Memories of a Party in the Desert - Alan Radecki - July.3.04....

... Joy of Tech! offers a "scaled Scaled Composite."

July 1, 2004

More pictures from the SS1 flight plus the XCOR party: The Story of SpaceShipOne - Samuel Coniglio.

News briefs... Alan Boyle provides a thorough overview of the status of private space transport development: The next stage for private spaceflight: Infant industry capitalizes on success of SpaceShipOne - MSNBC - June.30.04...

... Mike Melvill gets a profile from his local paper: Tehachapi pilot rockets into history - Tehachapi News - June.30.04 (via spacetoday.net).

Continue to Jan-June 2004 archive or 2003 archive or April 2003 Rollout

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