O'Keefe also commended the recent success of private space flights
such as that made by the SpaceShipOne spacecraft, developed by
aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, on June 21. Such flights, he said,
are the foundation for future private, commercialized vehicles
that may one day be called upon to serve the space station.
"It's realistically feasible for [future] station replenishing,"
O'Keefe said." This was a huge breakthrough."
Armadillo update this week
reports on engine tests to determine why there are "chugging
problems with the 7” engine at full throttle" - Engine
Tests - Armadillo Aerospace - Aug.29.04. They want to understand
this before they finish the 12" engines for the big vehicle.
Rocketplane Ltd., Inc.
Names Mitchell Burnside Clapp
Director of Flight Systems
Oklahoma City, 8/27/04 – Rocketplane Ltd., Inc. has appointed
Mitchell Burnside Clapp Director of Flight Systems. Burnside Clapp
has been an integral part of the corporation since its inception
“I am thrilled to be using my aviation and flight test experience
to help ensure that space travel becomes as easy, safe, and convenient
as air travel,” Burnside Clapp said.
A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Burnside Clapp
invented the concept of aerial propellant transfer to enable horizontal
takeoff / horizontal landing of single stage to orbit spaceplanes.
He led the design effort at the U.S. Air Force’s Phillips Lab
that developed the first such design for this type of vehicle,
the “Black Horse” rocketplane. He then was responsible for presenting
this concept to numerous high level decision making bodies and
study groups throughout the Air Force, resulting in a strong recommendation
by the Air Force’s “Spacecast 2020” study for a trans-atmospheric
rocketplane to be developed for military purposes.
Burnside Clapp holds a Master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics
from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has flown
more than 40 different types of military and civilian aircraft
and is the only person outside McDonnell-Douglas trained to fly
the DC-X single stage research demonstration vehicle. He is the
author of numerous technical papers on various subjects in the
space transportation realm.
“Mitchell has led teams that have won multi-million dollar aerospace
proposals from the military and NASA,” said George French, president
of Rocketplane Ltd. “I am extremely pleased to have Mitchell as
part of the Rocketplane team.”
Rocketplane Ltd., Inc. is committed to making space travel more
accessible and enabling greater commercial opportunities in space
through its Rocketplane XP. The XP is a reusable launch vehicle
that will take space travelers above Earth, where they can view
the planet from space and experience zero gravity for three to
four minutes before returning to the landing strip at the Oklahoma
Spaceport in Burns Flat. The XP may also be used to carry scientific
experiments into space to conduct research in zero gravity, as
well as perform Earth observation for agricultural and environmental
Spacefleet, Ltd. of
the United Kingdom
Funds Rubicon 2 Launch
August 27, 2004
Ltd. has invested the funds required to construct and launch
Rubicon 2. Space
Transport Corporation (STC) is thrilled to have Spacefleet
as a stockholder. The investment demonstrates the high level of
worldwide enthusiasm and optimism for our project and the space
tourism concept in general.
Spacefleet, led by Managing Director Dr. Raymond D. Wright, is
based in the United Kingdom, but brings a collaborative, international
approach to private space development. STC shares this belief
that collaboration is essential to cost-effective progress in
the space sector. Below is a statement by Spacefleet:
"Spacefleet is creating an international space science research
association. It will be a community of space technologists, scientists,
and engineers, for mutual benefit, to make space transport cheaper
and safer, by putting those who are looking for knowledge in touch
with those who have it."
Spacefleet's website is www.spacefleet.co.uk.
STC looks forward to participating in the member community on
the Spacefleet website and contributing to its growth.
STC set a near-term fundraising target of $200,000 after the Rubicon
1 learning experience, a sum that will allow full-tilt development
of the Rubicon X Prize vehicle including purchase of long-lead
items. Several small investments have been made and STC has an
eye out for more major investments.
Space Transport Corporation develops launch vehicle technologies
using a practical test-oriented approach. Eric Meier and Phillip
Storm are the driving force behind STC. STC is a contender for
the $10 million Ansari X Prize (see www.xprize.org).
The space tourism market, one of STC's ultimate targets, is worth
much more than $10 million.
News briefs... A Flometrics
/SDSU update from Steve Harrington is posted in Advanced
Rocketry News. ("The paper shows that for a booster
which uses the [pistonless]
pump, the performance in terms of payload to a given deltaV
is as good or better than a turbopump.")
Space Transport investor...
The STC home
page says that Spacefleet Ltd (www.spacefleet.co.uk)
"has become a major STC investor and ally." The chart
says they still need over $175K so apparently this investor isn't
funding the entire effort. (Item via Space
"The launch date of the Demonstrator 2B rocket was set for
September 8, 2004. The unmanned launch will take place from Midia
Cape Air Force launch site, on the Black Sea shore. The Demonstrator
2B will be launched at a low altitude, below 5 000 m, mainly because
of the launch site restrictions. The main objective for this flight
will be to qualify for flight the world first composite materials
monopropellant rocket engine. The engine that will boost the rocket
already completed 28 ground tests."
FALCON Task 2 selection....
Though not officially announced yet, the latest Space News says
that the DARPA FALCON
(Force Application and Launch from CONUS) program has chosen Lockheed-Martin,
LLC (Gary Hudson & Bevin McKinney), Microcosm,
and SpaceX for
the Task 2 contracts out of the nine
selected for the Task I.
Three out of four for the little guys ain't bad. Congrats to all.
They will get funding to refine their vehicle designs over the
next 6 months before one or more contractors are eliminated depending
on the money the program gets.
No more wimpy scramjets...
Scramjet project led by the Air Force is discussed in the latest
Aviation Week. The project seeks to move supersonic ramjets from
the current generation of small, basic engines, which are undergoing
ground tests, to next-gen engines that are 10 time larger. The 6-7
year effort seeks also engines that will provide "improved
operability, lower takeover Mach numbers, and higher operating speeds."
(Scramjet Engine Demonstrator) project will develop some of
this technology. It will begin test flights in the 2007-2008 time
frame. Similar to the X-43A
approach, the vehicle will be dropped from a B-52 at high altitude
and then use a rocket booster to reach Mach 4.5 where the scramjet
engine will takeover. It would accelerate to Mach 6.5-7 for several
minutes (as opposed to a few seconds for the X-43A) and then fall
into the Pacific.
A RASCAL presentation given
at last week's Utah
SmallSat meeting did not address reports of problems in the
project, according to a person who attended the meeting. As reported
here last Tuesday,
Tony Tether of DARPA had hinted things were "not going well"
A talk on Thursday was scheduled to be presented by DARPA's RASCAL
program manager and a representative of Space
Launch. However, neither showed up and instead the talk was
given by someone from Booz Allen Hamilton, which is providing project
management and systems engineering support for RASCAL. He would
not answer questions about problems with the project and said, "I'm
going to try and avoid as much as possible Dr. Tether's comments."
He did report that they had completed a series of tests of the
system using a J-85 jet (for use on T-38 trainer aircraft) on a
ground test stand in Mojave and these had porduced a factor of two
increase in engine thrust over that obtained without MIPCC augmentation.
They have now set up a test of the larger F100 engine, which is
the type of engine intend for the RASCAL vehicle, and will start
running it this month.
He also said that Scaled Composites is working on the vehicle design
and will use some of the lessons learned with the SS1 since the
two vehicles fly in similar flight regimes. (That would tend to
refute all those critics of suborbital vehicle development who said
it could not contribute to orbital launch systems.)
Santa Clara, CA, August 16, 2004 - A new entrant in the rapidly
expanding space industry emerged today as Masten Space Systems
broke its silence by unveiling its new website, www.masten-space.com,
and vehicle development plans. The site contains details on the
suborbital launch vehicle the company will be developing over
the next few years.
The XA-1 is a VTOL, Vertical Takeoff and Landing, spacecraft.
This means that the vehicle will take off vertically, like most
rockets, but will also land on its tail they way rockets landed
in in old science fiction movies and the way the Apollo spacecraft
landed on the moon. VTOL craft tend to be more flexible and scalable
than relying on wings or other aerodynamic lifting structures
The XA-1 is strictly a suborbital rocket, meaning that it will
reach an altitude of 100km but without the velocity needed to
achieve orbit. While it doesn’t achieve orbit, XA-1 will be able
to provide significant cost savings for science and engineering
tasks that require space-like conditions for short periods of
time, such as microgravity research, upper atmospheric research,
and aerospace hardware flight testing.
“This is the beginning of a lot of fun, but hard work. Work anyone
can follow along with by visiting our blog
where we will be posting regular updates of our progress, ” declared
Dave Masten, CEO of Masten Space Systems. A blog is a sort of
running daily diary of events that will show not only the current
status of development, but where the project has been and how
it has changed over time.
In addition to Dave Masten, the team
includes his fellow ERPS
member Sean Lynch , Jonathan Goff, who occassionally contributes
news and reports at HS, and
Michael Mealling, whose blog RocketForge
I often link to.
"The successful drop tests paves the way for a series of
flight tests for Canadian Arrow in upcoming months, starting with
a launch pad abort and leading up to an eventual manned launch,
team members said."
In NASA decisions, the preferred choice for operational activities
must be competitively awarded contracts with private and non-profit
organizations and NASA's role must be limited to only those areas
where there is irrefutable demonstration that only government
can perform the proposed activity.? One step to foster these goals
would be to have operational activities done to the greatest extent
possible by the private sector.
... I don't know when they
were posted but there have been some nice photos
added to the SpaceShipOne Gallery since the last time I looked.
They include aerial views of the crowd that came to see the June
August 12, 2004 - With good weather forecast, Canadian
Arrow, a leader in the race for the $10 million X PRIZE, is
going ahead with a drop test of its space craft crew cabin from
a helicopter into Lake Ontario.
The test, in preparation for the start of actual test flights
of the main rocket, is scheduled for this Saturday. Here are some
Coordinates of drop test are 43.36.00 79.23.00, just south
of Toronto Island Airport. (See map on following page).
The drop will begin on Saturday August 14th at 9:00am and
finish at 10:00am with a weather alternate date of August 15th
at the same time.
Four Seasons Aviation Ltd. is providing the helicopter that
will drop the crew cabin.
The Coast Guard will be sending out a notice to warn boats
and ships to stay out of that area for the 1 hour we require.
There is a notice to airmen going out to warn aircraft to stay
clear of that area as well.
Maximum helicopter altitude is 9,000 ft with airspeed of approx
The parachute will open before 8,000ft with a decent rate
of 20 to 30ft per second.
If all goes well the splashdown of the crew cabin will be
less than 5 min after release from helicopter.
Following the test, the crew cabin will be towed to the National
Yacht Club and this will give us data on how the crew cabin
will tow in the open lake.
Our lead ship is from the National Yacht club and is called the
Grand National. It will be positioned on the North West edge of
the drop zone at approximately 2 km and should be a good guide
to where to stay for photographs and video.
... Here also are some
comments by Carmack posted on the sci.space.policy news group.....
... [Update: Carmack posts
a set of responses to recent questions and comments on the Armadillo
page at the X PRIZE Forum."To put it in perspective, we
could crash a similar vehicle every week for the next ten years
and still spend less money than the Space Ship One program."]
Space transportation interviews ...
The Space Show
has posted a recent interview
with Ed Wright, who talked about suborbital spaceflight and his
company X Rocket.
A major goal of the company is the development of the Rocket
Academy where students will train for spaceflight and will culminate
their education with a ride to 60Km on the Archangel.
The company has already carried out flight tests of the Maching
Bird 1 demonstrator, which goes as high as 22Km. During a test they
flew the vehicle four times within seven hours...
He will work with CEO Randy Brinkley, who used to be president
Satellite Services. Both worked together at NASA on the ISS
program during the 1990s.
Mueller previously was the CEO. Looks like the COO position
was created for Trafton.
Despite the recent
cancellation of a (potentially) large NASA contract, the two
seem optimistic that they can raise the $500M needed to complete
the two-stage K-1
reusable rocket and get it flying. The first vehicle has been
in a 70% completed state for several years as the company sought
I recently responded very pessimistically to a reader's question
about Kistler's prospects. Looks like its chances for survival have
improved but it's still not out of the woods yet.
The bill, previously referred to by its House number HR:3752,
now has Senate number 2772 and is called the Space
CHASE Act, or the Space Commercial Human Ascent Serving Expeditions
Act. (OK, who thought this one up and after how many beers?)
Tell the kids if they study hard they can grow up to be RAMTs and
RAMIs (RLV Aerospace Maintenance Technicians and RLV Aerospace Maintenance
Solar sail tests all over the place...
Seems odd that we had announcements on the same day of two independent
tests of solar sails. The Japanese actually did it in space with
two sails deployed during a high altitude suborbital flight. NASA
did its tests in a vacuum chamber;:
Meanwhile, the Planetary Society's Cosmos
1 launch of a sail that will go into orbit could take place
Headline inflation... The New
Scientist is one of my favorite magazines but I've often found that
it's article titles go way beyond scientific exactitude. See, for
example, this example: Double
calamity for X Prize contenders - New Scientist - Aug.10.04.
Gee, how about a little perspective. If one rocket had landed on,
say, a kindergarten and the other on a hospital, then you could
call them calamities. But they didn't. They were simply failed flight
tests of a couple of prototypes. Each test was just one in a series
of tests and what was learned will be applied to future vehicles.
Seems like writers at such a magazine should know that's the way
News briefs ... Space Transport
may actually get some money from "a slew of investors"
according to this article
at Space Race News!...
RASCAL problems? I just heard
from someone attending the Utah
SmallSat Conference about a presentation from Tony Tether of
DARPA. He reviewed
various DARPA sponsored space projects including FALCON
but did not mention RASCAL.
In the Q&A after the talk Tether was asked about RASCAL and
said "It's not going very well and that's about all I can say about
The RASCAL ( Responsive Access, Small Cargo, Affordable Launch)
program seeks to develop a system that uses a reusable first stage
airplane vehicle powered by a turbojet. The propulsion is enhanced
injection pre-compressor cooling (MIPPC) to attain a higher
speed and altitude than attainable otherwise with just a turbojet.
This vehicle then launches a small expendable that can put 50 and
130 kilograms into LEO for around $20K per Kg..
Several companies participated in the first phase studies (see
(1MB pdf) from 2002) and it was expected that two of them would
be selected for the second phase that involved more advanced design
and development. However, only the company Space
Launch was chosen
in March 2003 for phase two.
There will in fact be a presentation on Thursday
about RASCAL from Jacob Lopata of Space Launch and Preston Carter,
the DARPA program manager. It will be interesting to find out what
they say about the project's status. (Here is a talk
(2.6MB pdf) given by Carter in 2001 about the RASCAL design
It appears that the FALCON program is proceeding smoothly. It seeks
a low cost Small Launch Vehicle (SLV) that could deliver
the Common Aero Vehicle (CAV), with up to 1000 pounds of
explosives, anywhere on earth. The SLV should be "responsive",
i.e. available to launch on short notice, eventually in as little
as two hours.
Nine companies are involved in the first
phase studies, including SpaceX,
which happens by chance to be using Falcon as the name for its vehicle.
The phase 2 FALCON launch vehicle contracts are apparently due to
be awarded as soon as this week.
News briefs... The Rubicon
launch failure got an amazing amount of press coverage as seen by
the links below. Here's another one: X-prize
contender rocket explodes - BBC - Aug.9.04. The field of private
low cost space launch is certainly getting a lot of attention. I'm
sure STC wished the attention had gone to a successful flight but
maybe all this publicity will attract someone who will help them
out with their funding needs.
News briefs... I've been informed
that the X
PRIZE movie by Conti
Film mentioned below has been in development for several years.
In fact, at the Space
Access Society meeting in 2001,
Mitchell Burnside Clapp showed the video short. (Either my memory
really is completely gone or I was out of the room at the time.)
An interesting aspect of the flight involves how they deal with
the asymmetric thrust caused by uneven erosion of the nozzle. They
compensate for this with aerodynamic trim, which works as long as
there is sufficient atmosphere and speed relative to it. (Vectoring
of the engine was not implemented so as to keep things simple and
"The trick is to have the thrust taper off as the craft
eases out of the atmosphere, slowly enough so that the pilot can
keep up with the trim changes as the airspeed drops. Making the
engine burn as long as possible reduces the g forces and speed
of events the pilot has to cope with. The natural falloff of thrust
due to the oxidizer transition from liquid to gas is suited to
these control requirements. If one wanted to double the apogee,
it would have to be done by doubling the thrust, not doubling
the length of the burn."
It's reassuring (if true) that the Wildfire will be powered by
a hybrid engine built by eAc.
Hybrids are generally quite safe and reliable and the company, led
by Korey Kline, extensively tested
an engine for the SpaceShipOne competition. Burt Rutan says
that SpaceDev just barely beat out eAc for the SS1 contract.
However, we all know that there are many ways for a rocket launch
and recovery to fail. There are even more ways for a rocket launched
from a balloon to fail. I have to say that I'm flabbergasted that
the Wildfire will fly with a person on board without any prior full
system flight tests.
Up till now I've been impressed with the DA Vinci project. It is
a large scale volunteer effort, which is obviously in the HobbySpace
spirit. And I really like the way they attracted a large number
Private spaceflight will greatly benefit if it develops a sponsorship
tradition along the lines of the auto racing industry.
The project has not released much info on their hardware development
but it seemed to be progressing. I would have thought they would
now begin an incremental testing program, starting with launches
of unmanned prototypes from the ground to low altitudes and then
a series of unmanned balloon launches. If the vehicle requires a
pilot, then this is even more of a reason to start with low altitude
One of the greatest advantages of a reusable vehicle, after all,
is the fact that it can do incremental testing and work out the
bugs in the system just the way it has long been done with new airplane
I know it would be great to win $10M and gain fame and glory but
I just don't understand why they are taking this big of a risk.
If they just continue on a sensible course of development, they
could have a safe and reliable spaceship by sometime next year.
It's fine with me if adults engage in death defying stunts. It's
just that I'm primarily interested in seeing the development of
a commercial manned spaceflight industry that the public comes to
believe is safe and routine. I don't believe the benefits to this
cause are worth the risks of these Wildfire flights.
A bug in the X PRIZE is its lack of a second place prize. From
the beginning, most people informed about the contest knew that
Scaled Composites would be the leading candidate to win. It's been
very encouraging that despite this expectation, a strong second
tier (so to speak) of teams emerged. There are six or seven organizations
in this group that are building viable vehicles but unfortunately
they need another year or so before they can do high altitude flights.
They deserve a prize of their own to compete for.
I think DA Vinci belongs in this latter group but they obviously
believe they are ready to go directly to 100km. I sure hope they
know what they are doing and that the flights are complete successes.
(I'm not qualified to judge their project on technical grounds but
I know of at least one
person who is.)
Supersonic Test Launch
of Space Transport's Rubicon X PRIZE Vehicle on Sunday August
STC - Aug.5.04
On Sunday, August 8th, Space Transport Corporation (STC) plans
to launch their Rubicon Suborbital Tourism Vehicle in a partially
fueled test flight. The launch will, of course, depend on weather
and other factors, so please monitor launch status on the STC
Members of the news media should coordinate directly with Pat
Soderlind if you would like to attend and you will be provided
with attendance information that is NOT TO BE PUBLICLY DISCLOSED.
Accompanying this press release, please find a full description
of Sunday's Rubicon launch, a description
of the full-altitude (100 kilometer / 62 mile) flight, and an
overview of STC.
Rubicon will be launched from private property on the Olympic
Peninsula coast, about an hour drive south of Forks. The launch
will take place in the afternoon. Observers will congregate at
the designated location and head to the launch site as a group.
STC will hold a short conference / Q&A session at the launch site.
For media purposes, cameras can be set up at the site prior to
the launch. Observers will then head to a viewing point, which
is about ½ mile from the launch point.
Rubicon will be powered for 14 seconds by two solid propellant
rocket engines. The rocket will launch from a bluff and will reach
supersonic speeds, over 1100 mph (Mach 1.4), on its way to an
altitude of near 20,000 feet. 600 pounds of ballast weight will
be carried as required for the Ansari X Prize flight. An onboard
video camera will capture the view out of Rubicon's window, and
capture the sure-to-be-profound expressions of the mannequin crew.
Space Transport Corporation develops launch vehicle technologies
using a practical test-oriented approach. Eric Meier and Phillip
Storm are the driving force behind STC. STC is a contender for
the $10 million Ansari X Prize (see www.xprize.org). The space
tourism market, one of STC's ultimate targets, is worth much more
than $10 million.
SpaceX contract... The latest
issue of Space News reports that the Air Force plans to award SpaceX
a five year contract for an unspecifed number of flights. Tt could
range from one to several according to company president Elon Musk.
It will be awarded on a sole source basis. Though SpaceX won a
protest this year against a sole source NASA contract to Kistler
Aerospace, the Air Force claims it is justified here because
SpaceX is the only company available that can launch their payloads
for $5M-10M per flight.
Update #2: I've been informed
by Elon Musk that SpaceX explicitly requested that the AF not
give them the contract on a sole source basis. They were "very
surprised to see the notice of sole source after our request that
it be fully competed, so I think it might have just been a genuine
US-Canadian space race... Looks
like there will an actual race for the X
PRIZE after all. The da
Vinci project just announced it has obtained funding from the
Internet casino comapny GoldenPalace.com
to carry out two flights in October:
Space Adventures Considers Australia as Location
for Suborbital Spaceport
Ltd., the world's leading space experiences company, continues
scouting potential locations around the world for a suborbital
spaceport, but considers Australia as the leading contender.
"Numerous government authorities in Australia view the construction
and operation of a suborbital spaceport as a truly unique opportunity
to bring numerous jobs and, eventually, thousands of tourists
to the area," said Chuck Sammons, vice president of Suborbital
Spaceflight and Spaceport Development for Space Adventures. "We,
at Space Adventures, continue to strive to bring private space
travel to all private citizens worldwide. Selecting a viable location
for our spaceport is another step in making commercial suborbital
spaceflight a reality."
SS1 briefs... Here's an informal
on Burt Rutan's presentations at Oshkosh...
"And if the business-as-usual space developers continue their
decades-long pace, they will be gazing from the slow lane as we
speed into the new Space Age -- this time not for prestige, but
this time to fulfill people's dreams."
Rocketplane Ltd., Inc. Names David Urie
Vice-President and Program Manager
Oklahoma City, 7/30/04 – Rocketplane
Ltd., Inc. has chosen David Urie as its Vice-President and
Program Manager. Urie will use his extensive aerospace and engineering
expertise to oversee the production and operations of the company’s
Rocketplane XP sub-orbital launch vehicle.
Urie will manage the design, production, and flight testing of
the Rocketplane XP. He is also assembling a core team of engineers
and designers to carry out the company’s program development plan,
as well as developing production facilities in Oklahoma City and
Burns Flat, Okla.
“I expect our development effort to be as exhilarating as a ride
in our finished bird,” Urie said.
Prior to joining Rocketplane Ltd. team, Urie served as president
of Concept Fusion, Inc., providing technical development services
to established companies and start-up organizations. During his
30-year career with the Lockheed Martin Corporation , Urie led
teams on Lockheed’s X-30 National Aerospace Plane and the HL-20
Personnel Launch System. He was Chief Engineer and then Program
Manager of the SR-71 reconnaissance system before initiating and
heading the Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) and X-33 Reusable Launch
Vehicle (RLV) Programs.
As a Director of the Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works SSTO/RLV Advanced
Technology Demonstration Program, Urie conceived and developed
the aero-spike rocket propelled lifting body that was selected
by NASA as winner of the X-33 competition. He holds the patent
on the design, and he formed and headed a multi-company team encompassing
all aspects of SSTO/RLV.
Urie was also Program Manager of the Trans Atmospheric Vehicle
(TAV). His team built and successfully tested a large-scale cross
section Mach 25 structure. He served on several advanced development
projects in Flight Sciences and Operations Analysis.
Throughout his distinguished career, Urie has received numerous
honors and awards, including the prestigious Engineer of the Year
award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
(AIAA). He has published many articles, prepared and taught several
short courses, given various lectures and presentations, and served
as aerospace engineering curricula advisor to two universities.
“David Urie is the premier aerospace engineer in the nation,”
said George French, president of Rocketplane Ltd. “We are thrilled
to have him onboard.”
He said he had thought that it would be easier to develop the
suborbital system than it turned out to be. “For example,” he
said, “I didn’t know I would have to build a rocket system.” ...
“We had two small shops competing against each other in the hope
one of them could do it.” In the end both shops delivered usable
systems, and the one that was selected was only better by a few
Rutan spoke about how the program is now over a year behind schedule.
“But no one knew it, because I never told anyone what the schedule
was.” His advice: “Don’t even tell your customer what your schedule
The audience was delighted when Rutan described his idea of bringing
the White Knight and SpaceShipOne to a future EAA AirVenture.
A lottery would be held and two lucky attendees would get to take
a ride into space, which would launch from the Wittman runway
at the start of the afternoon air show, rocket into space over
Lake Winnebago midway through the show, and recover in front of
the crowd at the end.
Burt Rutan said the passenger list is quite long. "There are
some significant opportunities and some significant folks who
are on that list," he said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to talk
about that later on. There is an enormous passion for people to
fly, not just citizens, but journalists and scientists."
In addition to passengers, Rutan also is considering flying
small payloads. Four organizations, including the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency, have approached Scaled Composites about
flying items aboard SpaceShipOne.
Although it is a prototype headed for the Smithsonian, I think
this very first manned suborbital spaceship already could start
making real money by selling rides to orbit for scientific and engineering
That brings up an interesting question. If a scientist rides along
to monitor and control a payload, is he or she counted as a paying
passenger by FAA-AST or as a crew member? I believe the regulations
that apply are different.
Vinci Project news conference
on Thursday will "make major announcements related to its pursuit
of the $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE. Journalists will be provided:
a sneak peak of the Canadian spacecraft called Wild Fire Mk Vl".
They soon "expect to do one more hover test, then a boosted
hop", followed by a long duration (60+sec) endurance hover
test. The latter will demonstrate capabilities needed for high altitude
FAA waivered test flights.
News briefs... Times are a-changing.
A year or so ago, there was no way that Nature would have reported
on a manned suborbital rocket project by a low budget semi-amateur
Fire joins private space race - email@example.com - Aug.2.04.
With a bit of luck, in a couple of years Nature and Roger Launius
will be bragging that they knew all along that manned suborbital
vehicles could make enormous contributions to a broad range of sciences
including atmospheric studies, magnetospherics, remote sensing,
space science, etc....