Ten years ago today, Mike Melvill made the first of two suborbital flights aboard SpaceShipOne required to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize. It was a wild flight as the vehicle got into a rapid roll on its way to space.
Brian Binnie made the second suborbital flight on Oct. 4, 2004, to win the Ansari X Prize. The requirement was to make two flights into space within two weeks.
Burt Rutan, Paul Allen and Richard Branson are among those who will gather at the Mojave Air and Space Port on Oct. 4 to mark the 10th anniversary of SpaceShipOne winning the $10 million Anari X Prize, Parabolic Arc has learned.
X Prize Foundation Chairman and CEO Peter Diamandis will preside over the invitation-only event, which is expected to draw hundreds of guests. The foundation sponsored the prize for the first privately-funded vehicle to fly into space twice in two weeks.
Ten years ago, I was right here in Mojave — not far from where I sit writing now — watching Mike Melvill make history. He flew Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne to just over 100 km, becoming the first private astronaut of the Space Age.
After gliding to a landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port, Melvill stood triumphantly atop SpaceShipOne before a cheering crowd holding a sign that one of the spectators had made that read: “SpaceShipOne Government Zero.”
On June 21, 2004, Mike Melvill stood atop a vehicle in Mojave that he had just piloted into space holding up a sign that read, “SpaceShipOne GovernmentZero.” Thousands cheered not only for Melvill having become the first private astronaut in history, but for the new era he had just helped to launch. Soon, people would be flying into space every week or so, and private entrepreneurs would put dinosaur space agencies like NASA out of business.
A decade later, the future just ain’t what it used to be. But, that’s not going to stop the folks in Mojave from celebrating the past.
Melvill will be speaking about his historic flight on the anniversary of it on Saturday, June 21, at the Mojave spaceport. The talk will take place at 11 a.m. in the meeting room located inside the airport administration building. Get there early; there’s limited seating.
This month’s Plane Crazy Saturday will feature Virgin Galactic and the Spaceship Company officials accepting resumes, a large fly-in of experimental aircraft, and a talk by one of Mojave’s resident astronauts, Mike Melvill.
So, if you want to work for a space company, see some really interesting flying machines, or just to meet an astronaut, find your way to the Mojave Air and Space Port this Saturday, April 20. The airport’s monthly open house, run by the Mojave Transportation Museum, goes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Melvill will be speaking at the Mojave Air and Space Port board room at 11 a.m. He became the first private astronaut when he piloted SpaceShipOne on a suborbital flight on June 21, 2004. Melvill flew again in September of that year, completing the first of two spaceflights to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize.
Mike Melvill flew SpaceShipOne into space and history on this date in 2004. Melvill piloted the small space plane to an altitude of 100.124 km (62.2 miles) on a flight lasting 24 minutes and 5 seconds. Melvill was the first pilot to fly a privately-built aircraft into space. Thousands gathered at the Mojave Air and Space Port to watch this historic flight. After the flight, Melvill climbed aboard his craft and held up a sign that read, “SpaceShipOne, Government Zero.”
It was the fourth powered flight for the Scaled Composites vehicle, which was funded by billionaire Paul Allen. The space plane would fly two more times, in September and October 2004, to capture the $10 million Ansari X Prize. SpaceShipOne was then retired and shipped to the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Sir Richard Branson and his company, Virgin Galactic, subsequently licensed the technology and hired Scaled Composites to develop a pair of successor vehicles, SpaceShipTwo and its WhitKnightTwo carrier aircraft. Development and testing is ongoing in Mojave.
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In the old days it was straightforward enough. The planet had two corps of astronauts, Soviet and U.S., and to join one, you had to be a military test pilot. But now the rules have changed. You donâ€™t have to be an American or a Russian anymore, and you donâ€™t even have to be a government employee.