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My Trip In Space



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.

SpaceShipOne takes off (right) and view from space over Santa Barbara, CA (left).
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 richest people.

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 well.

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.

SpaceShipOne 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 2007.

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