September 29, 2004: At 8:13 this morning PDT, SpaceShipOne (SS1) coasted above the 100 km altitude point and successfully completed the first of two X-Prize flights. The peak altitude reached was 337,500 ft. The motor was shut down when the pilot, Mike Melvill, noted that his altitude predictor exceeded the required 100 km mark. The motor burn lasted 77 seconds – 1 second longer than on the June 21st flight. Melvill was prepared to burn the motor up to 89 seconds, which indicates significant additional performance remains in SS1.
The second X-Prize flight is tentatively scheduled for Monday, October 4.
Click through on that previous link to links for videos and photos.
Note that Burt Rutan is considering trying for a second flight on October 3 since that is the 47th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik.
MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA – The frightening spin of SpaceShipOne during its trip into space Wednesday was caused by a known deficiency and at no time led to an out-of-control situation, officials said today.
The unofficial altitude reached by SpaceShipOne yesterday, based on radar tracking, was 337,500 feet -- about 64 miles.
The Ansari X-Prize was modelled on the $25,000 prize that Charles Lindbergh won in his Spirit of St Louis for the first solo Transatlantic flight between New York and Paris in 1927.
The success of the X Prize competition argues for more and larger such prizes to achieve other goals in aerospace exploration and development. A portion of NASA's budget ought to be set aside for prize awards. Imagine much larger prizes for private spacecraft flight records, private orbital space station habitation for some period of tim, trips around the moon, manned landings on the moon with successful return, and successful construction an underground (because the moon is outside of the Van Allen Belt and radiation levels there are much higher) moon base with, say, 90 day continuous occupancy. A billion dollars a year accumulating in some fund would provide incentive for all sorts of highly cost-effective private aerospace development efforts.
The new service will be called Virgin Galactic and expects to fly 3,000 new astronauts in its first five years. Fares will start at $208,000 for a suborbital flight, including three days’ training.
Designs for the Virgin Galactic craft are progressing on a weekly basis at Rutan's base in Mojave, California and by early 2005 the final design for the maiden Virgin Galactic ship, the VSS (Virgin SpaceShip) Enterprise, should be signed-off.
What will follow will be a concerted Research and Development programme to earn the craft their qualification to carry some of the world's first scheduled space tourists. Safety is paramount. It is planned to have multiple levels of redundancy on key systems in order to achieve a very robust system in every phase of flight.
Virgin's experience in aviation, adventure, luxury travel and cutting-edge design will be vital in contributing to the design of the spaceship, the smooth operation of the spaceline and creating an unforgettable experience unlike any other available to mankind.
"We've always had a dream of developing a space tourism business and Paul Allen's vision, combined with Burt Rutan's technological brilliance, have brought that dream a step closer to reality. The deal with Mojave Aerospace Ventures is just the start of what we believe will be a new era in the history of mankind, one day making the affordable exploration of space by human beings a real possibility." Richard Branson
One argument for putting NASA into a prize-granting role is that some of its existing missions could be taken over by private efforts anyway. NASA ought to put up an award for building a space hotel. The hotel could be used by scientists as well as by tourists. A hotel built for prize money would not cost the government as much as the International Space Station because the prize amount would be some fixed lower amount.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2004 September 30 03:20 PM Airplanes and Spacecraft|