Privately Funded Manned SpaceCraft Reaches 62 Miles

Privately Funded Manned SpaceCraft Reaches 62 Miles
June 21, 2004
Web posted at: 12:46 PM EDT
MOJAVE, Calif. (ROL Newswire) -- Known as SpaceShipOne, pilot Mike
Melvill piloted a small, manned vehicle to aproximately 62 miles then
glided back to land at Mojave Airport 90 minutes after leaving the same
location. The hybrid rocket powered plane is thought to be the first
privately owned craft to carry a man into outer space. Burt Rutan the
creator of the project worked in conjunction with Microsoft's co-founder
Paul Allen, spent over 20 million dollars on the project and are
competing for the X Prize, a $10 million award for the first privately
financed three person spacecraft to reach 62 miles and repeat the flight
within a two week period.
Standing on the tarmac beside the ship, pilot Melvill said seeing the
Earth from outside the atmosphere was "almost a religious experience.
You can see the curvature of the Earth," he said. "You got a hell of a
view from 60, 62 miles." Melvill states he heard a loud bang during the
flight but was unsure of the cause. He pointed to a location on the back
of the spacecraft where a covering over the nozzle had buckled which may
have been the cause.
A special high altitude plane called the White Knight took off at 6:45
a.m. carrying the SpaceShipOne uder its belly. After an hours' climb the
pair reached about 46,000 feet and SpaceShipOne was launched. The pilot
then armed the rocket and then ignited the hybrid rocket motor. After a
brief burn vehicle coasted to apogee at about 62 miles.
"Clearly, there is an enormous, pent-up hunger to fly in space and not
just dream about it," Rutan said Sunday. "Now I know what it was like to
be involved in America's amazing race to the moon in the '60s." Rutan
gained wide fame by designing the Voyager aircraft, which flew around
the world nonstop and without refueling in 1986. Rutan hoped his latest
program shows that spaceflight is not just for governments. "I believe
that realization will attract investment and that realization will
attract a whole bunch of activity and very soon it will be affordable
for you to fly."
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It doesn't "re-enter" like the space shuttle, it just falls back down. It goes up faster than it comes down, about Mach 5.5. It is constructed to withstand those Mach numbers.
Just curious; what looks "flimsy" to you?
Reply to
just out of curiosity, what altitude does the space shuttle orbit at? the space station? mercury/genmini/apollo? 62 miles is sub-orbital? correct? at what altitude does suborbital become orbital? would being orbital versus suborbital mean you would need a heat shield upon recovery?
I'm asking cuz I don't know....
shockie B)
Reply to
Remember, since Spaceship One just went up and down it never reached orbit, so it's going much slower (about 4200mph) than the Shuttle. The Shuttle needs all that shielding because it's going 17,200mph (give or take a little, depending on altitude) while it's in orbit. Spaceship One is more like the X-15 than the Shuttle. When (not if) Mr. Rutan goes for orbit, I expect he'll need a much different vehicle with significantly more thermal protection.
Mark E. Hamilton NAR #48641-SR
Reply to
Mark Hamilton
More to do with speed than anything order to achieve orbit you must go a lot, lot faster...which means that you reentry a lot, lot faster.... speed+friction= heat braking into the atmosphere from orbital speeds generates a heck of lot more heat than a suborbital lob.
Reply to
Koen O. Loeven
IIRC, the shuttle orbits somewhere around 100-150 miles high.
I don't know, someone else will have to answer this part.
Theoretically you could orbit at any height, as long as you were going fast enough and were high enough to clear any obstacles such as mountains. Trouble is, orbit requires high speed, and the lower you orbit, the faster you have to go to avoid hitting the ground. (An orbit is basically "falling", except there's so much horizontal movement that you arepast the horizon before you can reach the ground.) Anyway, at those kinds of speeds, the atomsphere is a major problem.
The main difference between an orbital flight and a suborbital flight is the speed. Orbital = really really fast, and that means you'll generate a lot of heat when you hit the atmosphere.
As someone else mentioned, Spaceship One only reached Mach 5.5. Low Earth orbit requires several times that much speed.
Reply to
The shuttle flight control design specifies 400000 ft. (just under 76 miles) as "entry interface" - this is the altitude above which the vehicle is assumed to be in "effective vacuum" and aerodynamic effects can be neglected as being too small to be significant.
-dave w
Reply to
David Weinshenker
Well, "orbital" is not really an altitude. Its an instantaneous tangential velocity in a gravitational field where the centripetal acceleration is equal to the local gravitational acceleration. In orbiting the Earth, you "fall" due to gravity at the same rate the curved surface of the Earth in front of you is falling away. You could orbit at any altitude, even a few feet AGL, but aerodynamic drag (and mountains) are issues. Manned missions are usually in a Low Earth Orbit from around a 100 to 1,000 miles up, most less than 400 miles. Apollo went substantially beyond LEO. In LEO, you are moving much faster than SpaceShipOne did in it's simple ballistic trajectory; 17,000 mph compared to around 4,000(?) mph.
Any orbital flight, or high speed sub-orbital flight (ICBM), re-entry would require some heat protection. Unless you had a massive retro-rocket to slow you down to the point that heat shielding wasn't required.
Reply to
Heat shield is required when you hit the atmosphere at high speed. SpageShipOne does not do so, thus it doesn't need the heavy heat shield. Heard Rutan make a comment about that on the news. It eliminates one point of failure.
Bob Kaplow NAR # 18L TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD" >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD!
Reply to
Bob Kaplow
Most orbital manned spacecraft have been in the 150-250 mi range, i.e. Low Earth Orbit. IIRC the record was from the Gemini days when they got up to 800 miles with one of the Agena boosted flights.
You can find a plot of the ISS height over time at
formatting link
(note Km, not miles!)
Bob Kaplow NAR # 18L TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD" >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD!
Reply to
Bob Kaplow
Doesn't matter. Your motors will never be certified there either :-)
Bob Kaplow NAR # 18L TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD" >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD!
Reply to
Bob Kaplow
I am pretty sure they will be certified there first, Tripoli will ascimilate the club and promptly decertify them.
Outer space is outside the influence of a planet and its moons, is it not?
Reply to
Jerry Irvine
IIRC, "outer space" is one of those popular terms that has different meanings in different contexts. Outer space could be outside of your mind, or outside of your skin, or whatever is vaguely beyond earth's atmosphere, or beyond the moon's orbit around the earth, or beyond earth's orbit around the sun (away from the sun), or vaguely beyond our solar system (interstellar space), or ...
But it sounds snappy when read from the paper :-)
Reply to
Dwayne Surdu-Miller
I read that they were off by 22 miles, but still managed to land at the planed site, so I'd say they have enough crossrange.
Reply to
Alan Jones
I meant to say they planned no boost crossrange of note, not that they have insufficient crossrange on glide landing. In fact on glide landing they do have significant crossrange.
Reply to
Jerry Irvine
But isn't there both "space" and "outer space"?
There is SOME atmosphere to about 600,000 feet. Maybe more.
The Air Force says 50 miles and FAA says 62 miles for "space". Not "outer space".
Reply to
Jerry Irvine
My personal favorite description of space may not have any relevance here but it does come from that Beacon of Science Fact TV show ....Gilligans Island.
Skipper: "Gilligan, there are 3 kinds of space, The space up there, the space down here .... and the space between your ears!" Gilligan: "Oh yeah Skipper! I only know one thing about space...You take up more of it than me!"
Sorry ....couldn't help myself.
Mark A Palmer TRA 08542...L3
Reply to
Mark A Palmer

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