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SpaceShipOne X-Prize Flight Blog


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T minus 23 hours to takeoff, 24 hours to ignition...

It is a gorgeous morning here in Mojave.

The SS1 and White Knight were mated together yesterday about noon...Steve and his guys are getting damned good at doing that. The air & spacecraft are adorned by the logos of several X-Prize sponsors and, of course, the Virgin Galactic livery. I may post photos later. The Stack is surrounded by ground crew performing systems checks and servicing of the vehicles here in Flight Test Hangar 78, which ajoins my office door. It is crawilng with special-access camera crews and others.

The astronaut was selected a week ago...and no I can't tell you who it is.

The traffic is expected to paralyzing here tomorrow morning...I've elected to sleep in my office tonight rather than get up at an ungodly hour (around 1:00am) to drive in from home.

More when there is stuff to post....pix maybe later.

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God speed to you all,Groucho. You guys make NASA look like a bunch of wimps! Burt should go in the books alongside Magellan and Drake,and all the other can-do guys. My hat's off to you all.

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Ya know Bob, when I met you back in 2000, heard about where you worked, I thought, wow, dream-job.

Now, there you are, working for a company on the cusp of an avaiation revolution -even bigger than Chuck Yeager's X-1 flight: space flight from an aircraft.

Lucky bugger. :D


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OK...I'm about to turn in for the night...crashing in my office as I said. There was a bit a late hour scramble to fix a problem but in our usual Scaled way we figured out how to fix it...

Looks very good for tomorrow.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement...it is appreciated.

I will post again in the morning....but here was a neat piece from space.com (which will have live coverage also)

All Systems Go on Eve of Launch

By Leonard David

MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA – "We’re ready."

That's what SpaceShipOne’s chief designer, Burt Rutan, said in giving a go for launch early Wednesday. His craft will attempt to fly to the edge of space from here at the Mojave Spaceport in the first of two flights needed to snare the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

At the controls of the vessel will be a pilot who has been picked but not announced.

As it skyrockets its way to 62.5 miles (100 kilometers), SpaceShipOne will hold the pilot and the equivalent weight of two passengers -- the requirement for winning the X Prize.

Also onboard will be a surprise manifest of items, Rutan announced.

Personal items

Numbers of personal items are being toted into space, most of it supplied by Rutan’s employees who have worked on SpaceShipOne. Those items include tools used to build the craft, tree seedlings, an Explorer’s Club flag, as well as Rutan’s own slide rule. In addition, a teddy bear that’s flown on the U-2 and other vehicles is making the trip, later to be auctioned for charity.

"It’s all just interesting stuff," Rutan explained.

"We’ve worked a long time for this," Rutan told reporters at a late afternoon press briefing. "This program has had an emotional impact on everybody that has touched it…about how historic and how important it is."

Rutan said his team at Scaled Composites has "done a hell of a lot of work on simulations, pilot training – and we’re all very confident that we can pull this off tomorrow and turn it around quickly."

"Anything can happen though," Rutan added. "There are all kinds of surprises that can happen. We believe our system is extremely robust to the normal types of failures with rockets that cause real big problems."

Weather on the eve of the flight was good, with skies forecast to be clear and calm enough for the mission to proceed. Live coverage will be provided by SPACE.com beginning at 9 a.m. ET (6 a.m. PT). [Click to watch]

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9/29/04-- Flight Day

T minus 3 hours 45 minutes to SS1 ignition

OK....it's morning.

I usuallt love the location of my office, which opens directly onto the floor of the flight test hangar. I was not so enamored with it this a.m., however. I finally got to sleep about 2330...and slept pretty well on the inflateable air mattress. Then, at 0210 or so, I was awakened to the roar of high-pressure air compessors firing up, the venting of 4000 psi lines, and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters screaming out All My Life over the radio. The SS1 crew had arrived and were starting their servicing of the spacecraft.

Oh well, I'll sleep when I'm dead.

No technical problems with the spacecraft, but of some concern is the weather....a low pressure trough has moved through the area bringing a stiff breeze with it. It remains to be seen if the wind will die down at sunrise.

I need coffee.

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Sorry to hear you got blasted awake by those compressors. You must've jumped!

How you could sleep, with all the excitement and all, is a mystery to me! I'd normally suggest ear plugs for future reference, but I doubt even they could keep out the sound of high pressure air.

I'll be wiring a house today, but will have Gail giving me constant updates.



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OK, it's official:

7:37 a.m. ET: Officials announced that Mike Melvill will pilot SpaceShipOne this morning. Melvill became an astronaut in June when he piloted the craft to its first suborbital flight. He is a test pilot and vice president/general manager at Scaled Composites, LLC, the company that built the ship.

Personally, I was stoked when I found out last week that Mike was flying it. He's an incredible pilot, and a good friend.

Godspeed, boss.

This will probably be my last post until after the flight as I'm off the veiwing area in a couple minutes. Thanks for the kind wishes all.

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Fox News has the un-official height at 330,000 ft. Wonder about that roll though.




Next step....analyze WTF caused that "Victory Roll", and if something we can fix, we fly again on Monday.

Mike made us ROFL...To the press:

"I only did what any airshow pilot would do...a victory roll at the top of the climb!"

Our guys are already looking at the data...the ship is good to go however. Barring any critical flight safety issues uncovered in the review, we will fly again on Monday...

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An unofficial altitude for SpaceShipOne of 358,000, or about 73 miles, was recorded by radar at the site. An altitude of 62.9 miles is necessary to win.

If SpaceCraftOne's altitude is confirmed, it will also have beaten the X-15's top altitude of 354,200 feet (67 miles) set on August 22, 1963.

Now that does rock.

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