SpaceShipOne raced to space on October 4, 2004 and won the
$10 million Anasari X-Prize. A bit earlier, on June 21, 2004,
SpaceShipOne was the first privately-funded human-operated
spacecraft to venture into space when it flew to approximately
100 kilometers (60 miles) in height twice over a two week
period. The 100 kilometer mark has been officially defined
as the edge of space.
off (right) and view from space over Santa Barbara,
Photos Courtesy Scaled Composites, Inc.
SpaceShipOne (SS1) is the brainchild of Burt Rutan and his
aviation company Scaled Composites. The $25 million funding
for the project was provided by Microsoft co-founder, Paul
Allen, who regularly appears on the Forbes list of the world's
Scaled Composites received the first license from the U.
S. DOT (Department of Transportation) for sub-orbital rocket
flights. The first flight ever of SpaceShipOne was on May
20, 2003 and was unmanned.
In October 2004, SpaceShipOne reached new heights by flying
to a peak altitude of 377,591 feet (71 1/2 miles), which exceeded
the military record for its military X-15 of 67 miles set
in 1963. SpaceShipOne was also the first privately funded
reusable spacecraft and the first one to exceed Mach 3 as
Mike Melville became the first commercial astronaut when
he piloted the SpaceShipOne in June 2004 to its record-breaking
feat. With 10 flights on the SpaceShipOne underneath his belt,
including test flights, Melville has had the most experience
in flying the spacecraft.
But, it was Brian Binnie who broke the record in October
2004 and became the second commercial astronaut of record.
Binnie has flow the SpaceShipOne three times, including two
test flights and reported a smoother ride with less rolling
that Melville had reported in his previous flights.
While the SpaceShipOne was piloted by one astronaut, it was
built to hold three people. The spacecraft uses a SpaceDev
hybrid rocket motor with characteristics of both liquid and
solid rocket motors. The SpaceShipOne is built with unique
composite structure and designed with an advanced twin tail
configuration that moves upward during reentry, creating more
drag, slowing the spacecraft more quickly and generating less
heat than the Space Shuttle.
started its record-setting flights piggybacking the White
Knight airplane. At 14 kilometers, SpaceShipOne detached from
the White Knight and continued its journey upwards into space.
After the flight, SpaceShipOne then landed using its own gear
at the Mojave Airport in Mojave, California, where flights
and testing originated.
In July 2005, Burt Rutan came to an agreement with Sir Richard
Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines to create a new aerospace
production company that will build sub-orbital spacecraft
for consumer flights. First on the agenda will be the building
on SpaceShipTwo and White
Knight Two, which are expected to be unveiled sometime in