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SpaceShipOne is operated by Richard Branson.

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SpaceShipOne completed the first privately funded human spaceflight on June 21, 2004.

Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne.

SpaceShipOne was an experimental air-launched suborbital spaceplane that used a hybrid rocket motor. The design featured a unique "feathering" reentry system where the rear half of the wing and the twin tail booms folded upward along a hinge running the length of the wing; this increased drag while remaining stable. The achievements of SpaceShipOne are more comparable to the X-15 than orbiting spacecraft like the Space Shuttle. Accelerating a spacecraft to orbital speed requires more than 30 times as much energy as lifting it to 100 km.

SpaceShipOne was developed by Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan's aviation company, in their Tier One program, without government funding. On June 21, 2004, it made the first privately funded human spaceflight, and on October 4, it won the $10-million Ansari X Prize, by reaching 100 kilometers in altitude twice in a two-week period with the equivalent of three people on board, with no more than ten percent of the non-fuel weight of the spacecraft replaced between flights. Development costs were estimated to be $25-million, funded completely by Paul Allen.

New funding comes from British tycoon Richard Branson, who is to fund the successor SpaceShipTwo for his new company Virgin Galactic through a $21 million US deal. During its testing regime, SpaceShipOne set a number of important "firsts", including first privately funded aircraft to exceed Mach 2 and Mach 3, first privately funded spacecraft to exceed 100km altitude and first privately funded reusable spacecraft.

History of SpaceShipOne.

Engine detail of SpaceShipOne (more information.)
SpaceShipOne flights.
All SpaceShipOne flights begin with the White Knight lifting SpaceShipOne to about 14 km, as demonstrated in this captive carry test of the two-vehicle system. The two vehicles have identical cockpits, as can be seen from the pattern of windows.
SpaceShipOne's patch.
SpaceShipOne's patch.

SpaceShipOne is registered with the FAA as N328KF. 'N' is the prefix for US-registered aircraft; '328KF' was chosen by Scaled Composites to stand for 328 (kilo) feet (about 100 kilometers, the officially designated Edge of space). The original choice of registry number, N100KM, was already taken. N328KF is registered as a glider, reflecting the fact that most of its independent flight is unpowered.

All of its flights were from the Mojave Airport Civilian Flight Test Center.

SpaceShipOne's first flight, 01C, was an unmanned captive carry flight test on May 20, 2003. Glide tests followed, starting with flight 03G on August 7, 2003. Its first powered flight, flight 11P, was made on December 17, 2003, the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight.

On April 1, 2004, Scaled Composites received the first license for sub-orbital rocket flights to be issued by the US Department of Transportation. This license permitted the company to conduct powered test flights over the course of one year. On June 17, 2004, Mojave Airport reclassified itself (part-time) as the Mojave Spaceport.

Flight 15P on June 21, 2004, was SpaceShipOne's first spaceflight, and the first privately funded human spaceflight. Ansari X Prize flights followed, with flight 17P on October 4, 2004, winning the prize.

Flights of SpaceShipOne.

SpaceShipOne in flight.
SpaceShipOne in flight.
Cockpit of SpaceShipOne.
Cockpit of White Knight while in flight.

Flights of SpaceShipOne are numbered, starting with flight 01 on May 20, 2003. One or two letters are appended to the number to indicate the type of mission. An appended C indicates that the flight was a captive carry, G indicates an unpowered glide, and P indicates a powered flight. If the actual flight differs in category from the intended flight, two letters are appended: the first indicating the intended mission and the second the mission actually performed.

In the table below, the "top speed" reported is the Mach number at burn-out (the end of the rocket burn). This is not an absolute speed.

SpaceShipOne flights.
FlightDateTop speedAltitudeDurationPilot
01C May 20, 2003 1 h 48 min unmanned
02C July 29, 2003 2 h 06 min Mike Melvill
03G August 7, 2003 0 h 19 min Mike Melvill
04GC August 27, 2003 1 h 06 min Mike Melvill
05G August 27, 2003 10 min 30 s Mike Melvill
06G September 23, 2003 12 min 15 s Mike Melvill
07G October 17, 2003 17 min 49 s Mike Melvill
08G November 14, 2003 19 min 55 s Peter Siebold
09G November 19, 2003 12 min 25 s Mike Melvill
10G December 4, 2003 13 min 14 s Brian Binnie
11P December 17, 2003 Mach 1.2 20.7 km 18 min 10 s Brian Binnie
12G March 11, 2004 18 min 30 s Peter Siebold
13P April 8, 2004 Mach 1.6 32.0 km 16 min 27 s Peter Siebold
14P May 13, 2004 Mach 2.5 64.3 km 20 min 44 s Mike Melvill
15P June 21, 2004 Mach 2.9 100.1 km 24 min 05 s Mike Melvill
16P September 29, 2004 Mach 2.92 102.9 km 24 min 11 s Mike Melvill
17P October 4, 2004 Mach 3.09 112.0 km 23 min 56 s Brian Binnie

The flights were accompanied by two chase planes; an Extra 300 owned and flown by Chuck Coleman, and a Beechcraft Starship.

Astronauts for SpaceShipOne.

Astronaut Mike Melvill.
Astronaut Mike Melvill after the September 29, 2004 spaceflight.

The SpaceShipOne pilots were:

  • Brian Binnie.
  • Mike Melvill.
  • Doug Shane.
  • Peter Siebold.

The astronauts came from a variety of aerospace backgrounds. Melvill is a test pilot, Binnie was a Navy pilot, and Shane and Siebold are engineers at Scaled Composites. They qualified to fly SpaceShipOne by training on the Tier One flight simulator and in White Knight and other Scaled Composites aircraft.

SpaceShipOne Afterward.

SpaceShipOne now hangs in the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. with the Spirit of Saint Louis and Bell X-1 "Glamorous Glennis".

SpaceShipOne's spaceflights were watched by large crowds at Mojave Spaceport. A fourth suborbital flight, Flight 18P, was originally scheduled for October 13, 2004. However, Burt Rutan decided not to risk damage to the historic craft, and cancelled it and all future flights.

On July 25, 2005 SpaceShipOne was brought to the Oshkosh Airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. After the airshow, Mike Melvill and crew flew the WhiteKnight, carrying SpaceShipOne, to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio (the birthplace of aviation) where Mike spoke to a group of about 300 military and civilian personnel. Later in the evening, Mike gave a presentation at the Dayton Engineers Club, entitled "Some Experiments in Space Flight", in honor of Wilbur Wright's now famous presentation to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1901 entitled "Some Experiments in Flight." The White Knight then transported SpaceShipOne to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum to be put on display. It was unveiled on Wednesday October 5, 2005 in the Milestones of Flight gallery and is now on display to the public in the main atrium between the Spirit of St. Louis and the Bell X-1.

A piece of SpaceShipOne's carbon fiber material was launched aboard the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper belt.

SpaceShipOne became a popular model rocket in 2004. Estes Industries currently offers several flying model rockets of SpaceShipOne.

Specifications of SpaceShipOne.

Data from astronautix.com

General characteristics of SpaceShipOne.

  • Crew: one, pilot.
  • Capacity: 2 passengers.
  • Length: 16 ft 5 in (5 m).
  • Wingspan: 16 ft 5 in (5 m).
  • Height: ().
  • Wing area: 161.4 ft (15 m).
  • Empty weight: 2,640 lb (1,200 kg).
  • Loaded weight: 7,920 lb (3,600 kg).
  • Powerplant: 1 N2O/HTPB SpaceDev Hybrid rocket motor, 7,500 kgf (74 kN).
  • Isp: 250 s (2.5 km/s).
  • Burn time: 87 seconds.
  • Aspect ratio: 1.6.

Performance of SpaceShipOne.

  • Maximum speed: Mach 3.09 (2,170 mph, 3,518 km/h).
  • Range: 35 nm (40 mi, 65 km).
  • Service ceiling: 367,360 ft (112,000 m).
  • Rate of climb: 82,000 ft/min (416.6 m/s).
  • Wing loading: 49.07 lb/ft (240 kg/m).
  • Thrust/weight: 20 N/kg.

Links For Space Tourism.

astronomyTravel - This site provides Astronomy Travel resources and reviews. Helps maximize your time during observation.
eSpaceTickets.com - eSpaceTickets.com offers the world's only opt in email Affiliate Program whereby you read email and receive eSpaceTickets. Winners will journey to Moscow and fly to the edge of space. Join us with the United Nations declared World Space Week 2001.
FarShore Publications - Fiction and Links to Space Tourism and general space sites.
INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES - Offering suborbital space flights, zero-gravity and high-altitude flights, cosmonaut training at Star City in Moscow, flights in the legendary MiG-29 fighter and much more!
Rove the Moon - Operate your own moon buggy via the Internet or full experience simulator. Teleoperate a real lunar rover on the moon.
Sirius Travel - Specializing in astronomy related travel including popular solar eclipse tours and tour of astronomical sites in the american southwest.
Space Future - The Largest Archive of Space Tourism Articles and Papers on the Internet
Synerspace Complex - A Recommendation to model the fundamental principles of public space transportation and human exploration
Voentour M - We offer MIG-29 suborbital flight, visiting to Baykonur, seeing a rocket launch, etc.
Florida Space Coast
Manned Missions to Mars
Space Adventures
Space Tourism Initiative
Space Tours
Starchaser Industries
Susan's Space Coast Guide
Tour 2 Space
US Space and Rocket Center

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