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SpaceShipOne is operated by Richard Branson.
SpaceShipOne completed the first privately funded human spaceflight on June 21, 2004.
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.
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.
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.
The flights were accompanied by two chase planes; an Extra 300 owned and flown by Chuck Coleman, and a Beechcraft Starship.
Astronauts for SpaceShipOne.
The SpaceShipOne pilots were:
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'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.
Performance of SpaceShipOne.
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