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  Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne claims X PRIZE (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne claims X PRIZE
Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2004 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scaled Composites release
SpaceShipOne Launch Date Set

A privately-developed rocket plane will launch into history on June 21, 2004 on a mission to become the world's first commercial manned space vehicle. Investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and aviation legend Burt Rutan have teamed to create the program, which will attempt the first non-governmental flight to leave the earth's atmosphere.

Paul G. Allen and aviation legend Burt Rutan have teamed to create a manned space program, which will attempt the first non-governmental flight to leave the earth's atmosphere. SpaceShipOne will rocket to 100 kilometers (62 miles) into sub-orbital space above the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center, a commercial airport in the California desert. If successful, it will demonstrate that the space frontier is finally open to private enterprise. This event could be the breakthrough that will enable space access for future generations.

Allen, founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc, is financing the project. Along with Allen, Vulcan's technology research and development team — which takes the lead in developing high impact science and technology projects for Allen — has been active in the project's development and management.

"This flight is one of the most exciting and challenging activities taking place in the fields of aviation and aerospace today," said Paul G. Allen, sole sponsor in the SpaceShipOne program. "Every time SpaceShipOne flies we demonstrate that relatively modest amounts of private funding can significantly increase the boundaries of commercial space technology. Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites have accomplished amazing things by conducting the first mission of this kind without any government backing."

Today's announcement came after SpaceShipOne completed a May 13th, 2004 test flight in which pilot Mike Melvill reached a height of 211,400 feet (approximately 40 miles), the highest altitude ever reached by a non-government aerospace program.

Sub-orbital space flight refers to a mission that flies out of the atmosphere but does not reach the speeds needed to sustain continuous orbiting of the earth. The view from a sub-orbital flight is similar to being in orbit, but the cost and risks are far less.

The pilot (to be announced at a later date) of the up-coming June sub-orbital space flight will become the first person to earn astronaut wings in a non-government sponsored vehicle, and the first private civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere.

"Since Yuri Gagarin and Al Shepard's epic flights in 1961, all space missions have been flown only under large, expensive Government efforts. By contrast, our program involves a few, dedicated individuals who are focused entirely on making spaceflight affordable," said Burt Rutan. "Without the entrepreneur approach, space access would continue to be out of reach for ordinary citizens. The SpaceShipOne flights will change all that and encourage others to usher in a new, low-cost era in space travel."

SpaceShipOne was designed by Rutan and his research team at the California-based aerospace company, Scaled Composites. Rutan made aviation news in 1986 by developing the Voyager, the only aircraft to fly non-stop around the world without refueling.

"To succeed takes more than the work of designers and builders", Rutan said, "The vision, the will, the commitment and the courage to direct the program is the most difficult hurdle. We are very fortunate to have the financial support and the confidence of a visionary like Paul Allen to make this effort possible."

To reach space, a carrier aircraft, the White Knight, lifts SpaceShipOne from the runway. An hour later, after climbing to approximately 50,000 feet altitude just east of Mojave, the White Knight releases the spaceship into a glide. The spaceship pilot then fires his rocket motor for about 80 seconds, reaching Mach 3 in a vertical climb. During the pull-up and climb, the pilot encounters G-forces three to four times the gravity of the earth.

SpaceShipOne then coasts up to its goal height of 100 km (62 miles) before falling back to earth. The pilot experiences a weightless environment for more than three minutes and, like orbital space travelers, sees the black sky and the thin blue atmospheric line on the horizon. The pilot (actually a new astronaut!) then configures the craft's wing and tail into a high-drag configuration. This provides a "care-free" atmospheric entry by slowing the spaceship in the upper atmosphere and automatically aligning it along the flight path. Upon re-entry, the pilot reconfigures the ship back to a normal glider, and then spends 15 to 20 minutes gliding back to earth, touching down like an airplane on the same runway from which he took off. The June flight will be flown solo, but SpaceShipOne is equipped with three seats and is designed for missions that include pilot and two passengers.

Unlike any previous manned space mission, the June flight will allow the public to view, up close, the takeoff and landing as well as the overhead rocket boost to space. This will be an historic and unique spectator opportunity.

Based on the success of the June space flight attempt, SpaceShipOne will later compete for the Ansari X Prize, an international competition to create a reusable aircraft that can launch three passengers into sub-orbital space, return them safely home, then repeat the launch within two weeks with the same vehicle.

The Discovery Channel and Vulcan Productions are producing Rutan's Race For Space, a world premiere television special that documents the entire process of the historic effort to create the first privately-funded spacecraft. From design to flight testing to the moments of the actual launch and return, the special takes viewers behind-the-scenes for the complete, inside story of this historic aerospace milestone. RUTAN'S RACE FOR SPACE will be broadcast later this year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What date and time will the launch take place?
A: The launch is planned for June 21, 2004. We plan for very early in the morning. Currently we are planning to taxi out for takeoff at 6:30 a.m.

Q: Why so early?
A: Mojave is a windy place. It is less likely to be windy very early in the morning. That makes for better flying and launch conditions, and the low sun angle allows better spectator viewing of the high-altitude boost to space.

Q: Is there any chance that the flight would launch later in the day or be delayed a day or more?
A: Yes. As with any flight test activity, weather is a very important factor. High winds or very cloudy conditions could change our flight plans. In addition, flights can be delayed for technical reasons.

Q: What can we expect to see?
A: White Knight with SpaceShipOne slung underneath will taxi by right in front of the public viewing area. A few minutes later, you will see it take off. For a few minutes early in the flight, you can see them circling overhead as they climb. It takes the pair of mated vehicles roughly one hour to reach 47,000 feet a few miles to the northeast. That is where White Knight releases SpaceShipOne. They are generally easy to follow visually since the White Knight and its chase planes usually make contrails. SpaceShipOne glides for a few seconds, then the pilot lights the rocket and you'll be able to see flames and a rocket exhaust trail for about 80 seconds. There will be a public address system in the viewing areas which will carry the radio transmissions between Mission Control, the White Knight pilot and the SpaceShipOne pilot, so you'll know what is happening.

SpaceShipOne's flight lasts roughly 25 minutes. It will rocket to space, spend about three minutes weightless outside the atmosphere, then enter the earth's atmosphere in a high-drag configuration. It will glide back toward Mojave, circle overhead, then land directly in front of the public viewing area on the same runway on which it took off about 1 hour and 25 minutes earlier. SpaceShipOne's rocket is very loud but it can only be faintly heard on the ground in the best of conditions. If its reentry direction is aimed away from the airport, two soft sonic booms will be heard. After landing, SpaceShipOne will be towed by a truck to the media area for a brief photo opportunity, then moved to the adjacent public viewing area, then towed back to Scaled's facility. Thus, the media and the public will get to take their own close-up photos. White Knight takes longer to return. It usually lands a few minutes after SpaceShipOne.

Other aircraft which you may see during the flight include:

  • Robert Scherer's Starship (a Burt Rutan design). This plane flies high-altitude chase and carries our company photographer. This is a twin-engine turboprop airplane painted white with a canard near the nose.
  • An Extra that belongs to Chuck Coleman, one of Scaled's Design Engineers. This aircraft has been used to train our pilots/astronauts. It is a single engine aerobatic plane painted red and black. It flies very close chase toward the end of the flight to assist the SpaceShipOne pilot in landing.
  • The Alpha-Jet, a military-looking fighter aircraft painted olive green. The person in the back seat of this aircraft will have a video camera and will photograph the launch from a better position than we have on the ground. Some of this video footage will be used in preparing a documentary for the Discovery Channel.

Aztecdoug
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posted 06-02-2004 11:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting. I read mention that the pilot will fly solo. I understand that to win the X Prize, they need a three person crew, or one crew member and ballast equal to three people.

Incremental step, or fly with ballast? In any event, I think this is a HUGE step forward in space flight. Wow!

DavidH
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posted 06-02-2004 11:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I understand correctly, this flight will not count as an attempt toward winning the X Prize. Any X Prize flights must be announced 60 days in advance.

spaceuk
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posted 06-02-2004 02:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rootin' for Rutan!

All the very best on the day and for future flights and the onward extension UPWARDS to at least one revolution of the Earth.

Rodina
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posted 06-02-2004 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rodina     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My brother and I will be flying down there in his C-170.

OV-105
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posted 06-03-2004 01:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will more than likley go to it. Unless I have to help staff the station at the airport, not Mojave they have there own crash crew, but within there flight area. If you do not want to pay to go into the airport there are some areas off of the 14 to the wesst of the airport that you should have a good view of the flight.

Aztecdoug
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posted 06-20-2004 09:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I heard on the local news last night that Dick Rutan is supposed to pilot the first flight into space... is that so? I hadn't even heard of him flying it to date... does anybody have any insight into this?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-20-2004 09:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To my knowledge, the choice of pilot is expected to be announced today at a press conference at 3:30pm PDT. The news should circulate quickly afterwards, but as soon as I can return from the event, I'll post what was said.

machbusterman
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posted 06-21-2004 09:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for machbusterman   Click Here to Email machbusterman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aztecdoug:
I heard on the local news last night that Dick Rutan is supposed to pilot the first flight into space... is that so?
As I understand it, he'll be one of the three crew members on the X Prize qualification flights.

Here's hoping the flight goes well and that in an hour or so time the world will have its first civilian designed, constructed and piloted winged spacecraft and its pilot can qualify for his FAI "astronaut wings."

Danno
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posted 06-21-2004 11:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just read that they landed safely. Wow!

spaceuk
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posted 06-21-2004 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations to the Scaled Composites team on achieving a good first sub-orbital flight to the threshold of space at 60 mile altitude.

Excellent news.

nasamad
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posted 06-21-2004 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well done to all. Fantastic News!

1202 Alarm
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posted 06-21-2004 11:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 1202 Alarm     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is another turn, the ultimate goal of what now spaceflight has to be. A bit like the Ford-T was to automobile.

We don't have to be NASA or ESA to fly, in 30 years, people will probably remember today as one of the top five space achievements of all time.

Hawkman
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posted 06-21-2004 12:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkman   Click Here to Email Hawkman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
BRAVO!!!

Aztecdoug
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posted 06-21-2004 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Burt Rutan has brought excitement back to experimental test flight and the quest for space. Thank you to Burt, Paul, everyone at Scaled Composites, pilots Brian, Doug, Peter and congratulations to Mike Melvill, astronaut!

Ashy
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posted 06-21-2004 01:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ashy   Click Here to Email Ashy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fantastic. Congrats to all involved. If 220lb of ballast is needed please give me a call!

Rodina
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posted 06-21-2004 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rodina     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The universe just got a whole lot smaller.

David Stephenson
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posted 06-21-2004 01:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Stephenson   Click Here to Email David Stephenson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great news, well done SpaceShipOne.

Philip
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posted 06-21-2004 01:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fantastic achievement on this 'longest' day of the year! And great words spoken by chief-engineer Rutan at the pre-flight press conference about the current 'decades long pace of space flight projects'!

DavidH
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posted 06-21-2004 02:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm curious how today's flight will play in the media. I would love for people in different areas to share how the local print/broadcast media covered the event. Will it make the front page anywhere?

Ashy
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posted 06-21-2004 03:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ashy   Click Here to Email Ashy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would expect that you would get quite a bit more than we are having here in the UK.

It is well down the list of priorities on the BBC, that said a number of Royal Navy sailors have been captured off the coast of Iran so that has taken the headlines over here. A small piece on ITV News channel but it all seems a bit lack lustre at the moment!

Hopefully there will be something in the papers tomorrow morning?

Cliff Lentz
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posted 06-21-2004 04:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cliff Lentz   Click Here to Email Cliff Lentz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Philadelphia sends its congratulations as well!! I guess we would all like to go in some form. Is a collectSPACE discount in the works?

eurospace
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posted 06-21-2004 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rodina:
The universe just got a whole lot smaller.
That is an interesting question actually. Is SpaceShipOne a spaceship? Did it get into the universe? Or is it just a ballistic re-entry body that simply knocked at the frontier to the universe (which other spacecraft have entered for over 40 years already)?

SpaceShipOne has not completed the minimum of one orbit to be considered a spaceflight, and it never will. SpaceShipOne is just too slow to reach an orbital flight path.

So, certainly an important step towards commercial spaceflight. But a spaceflight it is not. Rather high altitude aviation. And that the universe is expanding (and not shrinking) is just a coincidence, not a cause-result relation...

1202 Alarm
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posted 06-21-2004 05:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 1202 Alarm     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think you're right on many points, but touching space can still make it a 'space' flight. It is a flight, and it went to space, no? (Anyway it's fun and interesting to follow, and the bird is nice looking.)

Rodina
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posted 06-21-2004 06:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rodina     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've been following the space program since I was four years old, and for the first time since Challenger showed that the space shuttle was never going to be economical — or anything close to it — this is the first time I've been excited about the prospects for spaceflight for the rest of us.

The fact is this changes the way capital markets will view space flight. If $20M can do this in 10 years with, what, 30 employees — then imagine what a few hundred million can do or a billion can do. If folks are lining up to pay $100K each for this flight — and the equipment for this mission (uncapitalized) probably represents about $6-8M in hardware, it becomes awfully attractive to start investing in ways of recreating this flight — and investment to do it cheaper, longer and better.

Is this as cool as flight on a space shuttle? Depends on how you look at it. If by "cool" one means, which would I rather have? I'd take a week on the ISS. If by "cool" one means, which is actually something I can save my pennies and afford? I'll take Rutan.

Call it an "ideological" fixation if you wish, but the profit motive is going to get private civilians — ticket-paying astronauts, who don't need to commit a lifetime to the quest — into space faster than every space program put together. In 20 years, I have no doubt that we will be seeing paid excursions to orbit — and in 35 or 40 years, the number of tourists in orbit will have overwhelmed the ability of anyone to keep track.

These guys may have opened the door just a crack into making it — maybe, just maybe — possible for the rest of us.

FFrench
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posted 06-21-2004 06:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cliff Lentz:
Is a collectSPACE discount in the works?
I'm guessing you could get a very good advertising contract with M&Ms to pay for it!

spaceman1953
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posted 06-21-2004 06:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I gotta be one of the first here to offer my heartiest congratulations to the entire SpaceShipOne organization!

I only had the radio for news this morning but it was all good!

I get to call Los Angeles each workday and just now have called them with my heartiest congratulations for what they, in California, accomplished this morning.

This is a spectacular day in mankind's history... and I am glad I am alive today to witness it!

Carrie
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posted 06-21-2004 07:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Carrie   Click Here to Email Carrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I heard the happy news from a co-worker today. I'll bet they'll be finding M&M's in that cockpit for a while - now there's a collector's item, a flown in space M&M! Wish I could have been there. Congrats to all.

Danno
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posted 06-21-2004 07:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by eurospace:
SpaceshipOne has not completed the minimum of one orbit to be considered a spaceflight, and it never will. SpaceshipOne is just to slow to reach an orbital flight path.
That is an interesting definition, but not accurate. SpaceShipOne went high enough away from Earth to an area defined as "space" by the FAA. That would qualify the pilot as an astronaut and his vehicle as a spacecraft. While you can be in space while you orbit, you do not need to orbit to be in space.

The feat of Burt Rutan's enormous! For a fraction of the price that government contractors charge he put a person in space.

What they did today is just the tip of iceberg making space commercial and more available to everyone. I can imagine that Burt will be able to go orbital in less than 10 years.

Space just opened up for everyone, the door cracked open today for the first time.

collshubby
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posted 06-21-2004 08:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for collshubby   Click Here to Email collshubby     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congrats to the crew who participated in the SpaceShipOne project. A huge achievement, wether one regards it as a spaceflight or high altitude flight.

Wish I could tag along on a flight. Maybe one day, it will be affordable enough.

ColinBurgess
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posted 06-21-2004 10:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well done to everyone connected with this wonderful endeavour. It's featured on all our Australian news programs today.

Hawkman
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posted 06-22-2004 07:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkman   Click Here to Email Hawkman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has anyone been able to find video of the flight on the web yet? I saw a brief snippet of the weightless M&M's last night. Wouldn't mind seeing more.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 06-22-2004 08:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceShipOne is not a threat to large scale space exploration, but it does show what a focused, budget-limited and bureaucracy-free group of professionals can achieve in a short time span.

In my opinion, their biggest contribution is the relighting of the public's imagination.

machbusterman
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posted 06-22-2004 11:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for machbusterman   Click Here to Email machbusterman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Burt and his team have created a vehicle capable of carrying 3 people on a sub-orbital spaceflight. Keep in mind that this is the first design that Scaled have built for this purpose. Do you think that will be the final version of their winged aerospace vehicle?

Give Burt and his team a few years and they'll have designs ready for construction and testing to carry people on an orbital flight. Technology doesn't stand still. We have to continue to press on toward the unexplored.

This flight is truly one of THE most significant flights in aerospace history and within the civilian aviation community it is in my mind comparable (but more significant in another way) to Lindbergh's solo transatlantic flight.

Before you know it there will be mini space-ports popping up all over the place (mostly in the USA methinks!!).

Cliff Lentz
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posted 06-22-2004 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cliff Lentz   Click Here to Email Cliff Lentz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by FFrench:
I'm guessing you could get a very good advertising contract with M&Ms to pay for it!
You read my mind! I just told someone that the next flight will probably have the Blue M&M caricature on the side of the spacecraft!

DavidH
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From: Huntsville, AL, USA
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posted 06-22-2004 11:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by DavidH:
I'm curious how today's flight will play in the media.
The flight did make the front page of The Huntsville Times, albeit at the very bottom.

The headline amused me: "SpaceShipOne lifts privately into space," as if it were feeling a little shy or something.

nasamad
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posted 06-22-2004 12:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nasamad   Click Here to Email nasamad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a quick pointer to some nice SS1 images.

Captain Apollo
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posted 06-22-2004 12:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Captain Apollo   Click Here to Email Captain Apollo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceShipOne was wonderful! I feel lucky to have been alive to have seen the moon landing and now this. As a European, I'm afraid we have to admit - only in America. Don't think anyone else could have done it.

eurospace
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posted 06-22-2004 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by machbusterman:
Give Burt and his team a few years and they'll have designs ready for construction and testing to carry people on an orbital flight.
It might be my lack of information, but has Rutan declared anything to the purpose of building an orbital vehicle with time and has Allen said he would fund it?

After all, orbital flight requires considerably more velocity and consequently much more combustible to carry with.

What I heard was more suborbital flights turning into a tourist attraction at a more affordable price. I did not hear about exploration or leaving LEO.

But as I said, maybe my lack of information. I have not heard of any such intention - have you?

eurospace
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posted 06-22-2004 02:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by DavidH:
I'm curious how today's flight will play in the media.
My German daily newspaper carried an extensive pre-report at a prominent place a few days before the event and had it accompanied by an interview with Harry Ruppe, former collaborator of von Braun and former head of NASA's future project office on how to judge the project.

The report after the fact was short and fact oriented.


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