Full Coverage: SpaceShipOne lands at the National Air and Space Museum|
SpaceShipOne joins Milestones of Flight
October 5, 2005 -- SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded, crewed vehicle to reach space, became part of the United States' national collection of flight icons on Wednesday, during a donation ceremony that was held at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
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The spacecraft, 28 feet in length with a 27-foot wingspan, went on display today suspended from the ceiling of the museum's Milestones of Flight gallery, home to many of the "firsts" of flight. It hangs between Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic Spirit of St. Louis and Chuck Yeager's Bell X-1, with which he broke the sound barrier.
Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, the sole funder of SpaceShipOne, made the donation while Burt Rutan, the spacecraft's designer, took part in the ceremony.
"It's really gratifying to have the SpaceShipOne project recognized by the Smithsonian when it was just 10 years ago that we first started researching the possibility of private space travel," Allen said. "I saw SpaceShipOne as a great opportunity to demonstrate not just a proof of concept but also demonstrate convincingly that private space exploration could someday be within the reach of individual citizens."
"Ultimately," continued Allen, "SpaceShipOne's presence in the Smithsonian shows once again that America's milestones of flight are not all behind us. It is my hope that SpaceShipOne's new home will enable the millions of National Air and Space museum visitors to view, learn about, be inspired and actively contribute to the next generation of space exploration initiatives," said Allen in a statement released by the museum.
On June 21, 2004, SpaceShipOne achieved an altitude just above the internationally-recognized 62-mile (100 km) boundary of space on an arced, suborbital flight that began with it being dropped from its airplane mothership, the White Knight. It marked the first time that private enterprise, and not government, crossed the threshold of human spaceflight.
In the fall of the same year, SpaceShipOne again flew above 62 miles during two flights separated by only two weeks, capturing the $10 million Ansari X Prize. The project's team was honored with the 2004 Collier Trophy, awarded by the National Aeronautic Association for the "greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America." Allen, Rutan and their team were also awarded the National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement.
"SpaceShipOne represents the next step in traveling beyond our planet," museum director Gen. J.R. "Jack" Dailey said. "Hanging in the Milestones gallery, it will inspire the next generations eager to experience a new accessibility to space. We are fortunate to add this most significant craft to the world's premier flight collection."
Before being hung at the museum, SpaceShipOne was restored to appear as it did after its first spaceflight, sans X Prize markings but with recreated damage similar to what it sustained in June 2004. The vehicle is complete less an unspecified component that was donated to a team now building an unmanned probe destined to Pluto.
With the installation of SpaceShipOne, the museum is introducing a new style of kiosk in the Milestones gallery, allowing visitors to view video footage of the vehicle in flight, explore its historical context, hear from its sponsor, designer and pilots, and study its cockpit via seamless 360-degree, high-resolution photography. The kiosks will also feature still photos and concise labels describing the artifact's accomplishments, design features and the team of people behind it.
SpaceShipOne is the fifth Rutan-designed vehicle in the museum's collection. The museum's south lobby gallery features Rutan's Voyager aircraft, which in 1986 made the first nonstop, nonrefueled flight around the world.
Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom contributed to this report.
March 10, 2005 -- The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum will later this year become the permanent home to SpaceShipOne, the first privately built and operated vehicle to reach space and a milestone toward development of tourism beyond Earth's gravity.
Paul G. Allen, Microsoft co-founder and the sole funder of SpaceShipOne, announced plans to donate the vehicle to the Smithsonian during the annual National Air and Space Museum Trophy awards ceremony held last night. Allen, Burt Rutan and the SpaceShipOne team were the winners of the 2005 Trophy for Current Achievement.
Plans call for SpaceShipOne to arrive at the museum's flagship building on the National Mall in Washington in late summer. It will hang in the museum's Milestones of Flight gallery between Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and Chuck Yeager's Bell X-1. Later in the year, the 1903 Wright Flyer - the world's first airplane - will return to its hanging position in the Milestones gallery following the end of an eye-level display on the building's second floor.
"Today is a day of affirmation," Allen said. "It reminds us that almost anything is possible with a great team and a worthy challenge. But bigger challenges lie ahead - regularly scheduled space tourism and orbital flights of commercial passengers. This means we need more innovation, energy and more milestones to be achieved. But as this museum tells us, the exploration of the high frontier is part of what inspires all of us."
SpaceShipOne is the first privately owned and operated spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 62 miles twice within a period of 14 days, a feat that captured the $10 million Ansari X-Prize, designed to encourage development of space tourism.
On Oct. 4, 2004, pilot Brian Binnie took SpaceShipOne 70 miles (112 km) above the Earth. On Sept. 29, pilot Mike Melvill flew the vehicle 64 miles (102 km) above the Earth. SpaceShipOne flew previously on June 21, 2004, with Melvill piloting and exceeding an altitude of 62 miles.
Although equipped with three seats, SpaceShipOne has only been flown solo. To qualify for the Ansari X-Prize, it carried the pilot and the equivalent weight of passengers. Its design, featuring a bullet-shaped forward fuselage and splayed wings, will be studied for adaptation for larger space tourism vehicles.
In expressing his gratitude for the SpaceShipOne donation, museum director Gen. J.R. "Jack" Dailey said, "Our collection is a celebration of firsts. Paul Allen, Burt Rutan and their team are the kind of visionaries who unlock the mysteries of flight and create new ways for us to explore our world and beyond."
SpaceShipOne will be the fifth Rutan-designed vehicle in the museum's collection. The Mall building's south lobby gallery features his Voyager aircraft, which in 1986 made the first nonstop, non-refueled flight around the world.
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