View Full Version : 212,000 ft and Privately built

14th May 2004, 10:06
Great achievement by Rutan http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3713119.stm

14th May 2004, 12:24
I'm really surprised I'm the first one to join in here, but WELL DONE THE TEAM! - a terrific achievement.

Big Tudor
14th May 2004, 12:30
The craft has to reach an altitude of 329,000ft (100km) twice in three weeks to win
Have NASA ever acheived such a feat?

Bloody well done to the team. Perhaps human ingenuity isn't as dead as we all thought after all.

14th May 2004, 12:49
Burt Rutan is not exactly what you would call a beginner :
- first round the world, nonstop unrefueled flight December 23, 1987
- first round the world, nonstop unrefueled solo flight maybe very soon.

Doesn't make it less impressive. :ok: :ok:

Scaled Composites website (http://www.scaled.com/)
Globalflyer website (http://www.globalflyer.com/)

14th May 2004, 13:51
The only one issue remaining: $10m prize would hardly justify Rutan's expenses of R&D + cost of building this spacecraft + tests.

If we not counting the total build cost of such spacecraft, it could be done already in 1960s, you just need one Arabian sheikh expressing interest in this area who can afford to employ Soviet or American specialists and to finance their work.

If you ask me, the whole X-prize idea is about something different.

14th May 2004, 14:06
Well, one could say many of us contributed to that project : it's funded by Paul Allen, co-founder of Micro$$$$oft.

Take a look here (http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=130259)

14th May 2004, 14:08
If you ask me, the whole X-prize idea is about something different. I agree. It's about the size of the cojones of the man and men making it happen. My plane flies higher than your plane so there! ;)

"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different." Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

14th May 2004, 14:15
Check out the other contenders on www.xprize.org; this is certainly costing a lot of people a lot of money. What chance the British Starchaser doing it first?

14th May 2004, 14:17
Well done to the Scaled Composites Team indeed! Such a humble name for a company doing this kind of thing...

Don't know how often NASA's X-15 flew - doubt it got this altitude though...at least not regularly...

Hat off to Mr. Rutan :ok:


14th May 2004, 14:18
I was lucky enough to visit Mohave Factory before Xmas and Bert showed off the Ship. What was fantastical low tech was the solid fuel rocket engine which was a rubber composite ignited with hydrogen - unlike others it could be stopped by cutting the gas.
Look at the web site, it designed so the the Mother launch ship has cockpit pod exactly the same as final stage for training etc.

14th May 2004, 14:21
That's useful - a solid you can turn off. The Shuttle doesn't have that luxury! :bored: Once you light 'em, that's 2 minutes of burning right there...no "off" switch...!


14th May 2004, 16:43
"Burt Rutan is not exactly what you would call a beginner :
- first round the world, nonstop unrefueled flight December 23, 1987
- first round the world, nonstop unrefueled solo flight maybe very soon."

He's also a great supporter of the Young Eagles program and EAA in general. What a fantastic acheivement! Good luck to all the teams involved. Its nice to read about something so positive in a week of news which has shown some of the most appalling sides of human nature.

14th May 2004, 16:49
The next giant leap for human kind? Great to see that such an adventurous and genius spirit still exists.

14th May 2004, 17:37
Don't know how often NASA's X-15 flew - doubt it got this altitude thoughThe X15 surpassed that altitude, reaching a height of 350,000+ ft.


14th May 2004, 19:51
The X15 surpassed that altitude, reaching a height of 350,000+ ft.

But at what cost? Whilst NASA didn't have the prodigious backing of Paul Allen, it might be interesting to know how much it cost the American taxpayer to achieve this feat...


14th May 2004, 20:56
From what I remember, there are a lot of companies that are buying some of the technologies being developed by Burt. That combined with the $10 million should hopefully offset a lot of the costs.

Capt. Horrendous
14th May 2004, 21:01
Both Dick and Burt will be on the Isle of Man over the weekend of 7th and 8th August as guests of the Manx Festival of Aviation organisers.

JURBY 2004 (http://www.mfa.org.im)

Fly in for free and come meet the guys. Should be a great weekend !!

Noah Zark.
14th May 2004, 21:37
A damn fine effort. Well done to all concerned.

Ignition Override
15th May 2004, 05:47
Well-done Rutan and team! The story about his non-stop flight around the planet with Jeanna Yeager was also quite inspiring. That plane had only two reciprocating engines.

As for humility, regarding the world speed record in the atmosphere; I've flown twice with that guy who set the official speed record in the SR-71 (the unofficial record is classified). There is a plaque somewhere at the front of the (Wash.) Dulles Airport terminal about the fast flight. He now flies at .76 Mach on 'steam-gauge' planes, most of which were built in the 60s.

He is a nice, humble guy who quite often visits his aging mother.:)

15th May 2004, 10:03
Yes, well done indeed.

Love a ride in that machine!!

15th May 2004, 10:04
Big Tudor, thatīs wrong to win the Xprize you need to lift 3 people to 100km and repeat it in 2 weeks time (not 3).
Only private competitors so NASA canīt claim the prize...

15th May 2004, 23:31
"But at what cost? Whilst NASA didn't have the prodigious backing of Paul Allen, it might be interesting to know how much it cost the American taxpayer to achieve this feat..."

The X-15 wasn't JUST designed to fly high though...it was also designed to fly at speeds up to Mach 6.7 to test ablative coatings for future high atmosphere and reentry vehicles, crew pressure suits etc.

I believe the Rutan thing will only (!) fly at around mach two point something...still an amazing achievement for a private venture. :ok:

As for the $10m prize, it probably wont come close to offsetting Rutan's R&D expenses, however imagine the marketing profile Scaled will gain for its other business interests and programs.


Teddy Robinson
16th May 2004, 02:30
"I believe the Rutan thing will only (!) fly at around mach two point something...still an amazing achievement for a private venture. "

..which makes this feat all the more remarkable... the big players have been using a sledgehammer to crack a nut !
well ok, it's not that simple.

Surely the physicists out there must be able to tell us if this concept is good for a truly orbital flight ?

It is refreshing to see Rutan and his team getting the headlines for a venture that is a credit to the USA.

4th Jun 2004, 18:06
According to many of the stories covering this on xpace.com, Burt Rutan (Dick Rutan is the one who flew around the world) is doing this to show that you don't need a large government organisation to get into space. SpaceShipOne wasn't entirely aimed at winning the X-Prize, that will just be a nice bonus. It definitely isn't going to cover the development costs. If he had wanted to win the prize, they would have been far more aggressive with their flight schedule. As it is, they are taking it one step at a time.

They won't get into orbit with the current designs, but Rutan wants to keep developing this into larger craft that can actually attain orbit. Much like the US and the Soviets did with their space programs in the '50s and '60s. Start small, and work your way up.

The X-Prize is trying to do for space flight, what the many challenges and competitions early last century did for powered aircraft. They are trying to bring some interest and excitement back to space flight, which you have to admit has been sorely lacking lately.

Good luck to SpaceShipOne and all the rest!!!


5th Jun 2004, 08:40
more news on the Beeb (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3770919.stm)

5th Jun 2004, 17:56
Frankly, I wouldnīt get too exited about the x-price. Itīs a sub-orbital flight. Imho a true space flight starts when entering orbit, not by shooting a tin can into the air as high as possible.

5th Jun 2004, 17:58
Frankly, I wouldnīt get too exited about the x-price
Well, that's put Mr Rutan in his place:mad:

I suspect he MIGHT just get a little excited if he achieves it, and so will a lot of us.

7th Jun 2004, 09:38
Frankly, I wouldnīt get too exited about the x-price. Itīs a sub-orbital flight. Imho a true space flight starts when entering orbit, not by shooting a tin can into the air as high as possible

I agree, hopefully there will be a Y-prize for the first private flight to do 3 orbits and return safely to earth, twice in two weeks.

Somehow I think it will take a bit longer for that, but plenty of people are working on it.

- Michael

7th Jun 2004, 16:09
It is a remarkable achievement, but to get into orbit is going to need something capable of literally 10 times the speed of this -- and a whole lot more fuel, and entirely different design, using different materials. I wonder just how much of the technology in 'Spaceship One' would be transferable to such a craft. Very little I suspect, sadly we are still a long way from the days of affordable 'true' space flight.

Still love to have a go in it though.

phoenix son
7th Jun 2004, 16:13
I suspect that the X-prize is not the issue here, and the Rutan's are doing this BECAUSE THEY CAN!!!


9th Jun 2004, 17:04
Rutan is doing it because he wants to prove that it doesn't take a government agency to get into orbit and that it could be economically feasible. He has mentioned this a few times in interviews. The X-Prize would just be a nice bonus.

Scaled Composites is taking a step by step approach to this, much like NASA and the Soviets did. While SpaceShipOne won't be able to attain orbit, the next generation might be able to. They are developing the technology to apply to the next generation, so some will transfer but we will have to wait and see how much. The first American in space didn't achieve orbit either.

After this prize is won, I am sure there will be a new prize for the first to achieve orbit, much like the challenges given to early pilots for crossing the Atlantic etc. kept getting harder.

The day I would love to see is the day when we have true space craft, not craft that are little more than ballistic projectiles. Something like what you see in Star Trek or Babylon 5 (I could do without the faster than light part).


Mostly Harmless
10th Jun 2004, 21:18
WELL DONE INDEED!! And, about bloody time. We have been promised commercial space travel since the ‘60’s and the Governments of the world barely even have space programs anymore. I’m glad to see all of these teams take the initiative to renew our push to the stars. Best wishes and Godspeed to all involved.

It is my understanding that the 62-mile (100 km) height is the height of the first Mercury capsule flights.

18th Jun 2004, 11:09
Another 3 days to go, starting to cross fingers. :ok: :ok:

A paper about Burt Rutan on The Beeb website (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3746313.stm) today

18th Jun 2004, 11:27
Anyone know if any websites will be streaming coverage of the flight?

- Michael

19th Jun 2004, 20:06
Last news on The Beeb (http://http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3811881.stm)

20th Jun 2004, 18:27
SpaceShipOne is definitely a favourite on the Beeb : another paper (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3823113.stm) today

20th Jun 2004, 20:08

Currently webcast live on the Beeb.


21st Jun 2004, 11:30
Today's the day.

I hope it will be today. Exciting huh?

Good luck guys :ok:

Flight Safety
21st Jun 2004, 15:44
They're airborne, we'll know shortly. :O

21st Jun 2004, 16:15
Just landed :ok: :ok:

21st Jun 2004, 16:19
Just watched it, very cool. Where is the queue for tickets?

I missed whether they got the required altitude for space, did they get it?

21st Jun 2004, 16:20
Over 100 km according to the Beeb (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3811881.stm)

Well done
Hats off to Mr Rutan :ok: :ok: :ok:

21st Jun 2004, 17:30
Hope they win the X prize but even if they don't they were first!

Outstanding! Fantastic! Well done!

Given Mr Rutans track record who could have doubted he would succeed.

22nd Jun 2004, 07:48
Top job.

Crew has balls going without pressure suits too.:sad:

22nd Jun 2004, 08:58
Anyone got a link to better video coverage of the event?

The live streaming stuff was frankly pathetic with postage stamp resolution and no shots from the chase planes.

One thing struck me watching the news though - the pilot opened and tipped out a whole packet of M&Ms while weightless. Now I know the chances of one of those getting stuck in a control or causing a distraction later in the flight is pretty low, but I was amazed that a test pilot would take a risk he didn't have to take just for a frivolous stunt. I wouldn't even do that in my Cessna 152!

- Michael

Shaka Zulu
22nd Jun 2004, 11:56
He had 3 minutes to eat them all ;) plenty!
Just kidding :)

It seems they had problem with the trim aswell, so Mike cut the flight short and went over to a backup system, still making the 212000' cut-off! What a cool dude this chap is!

22nd Jun 2004, 12:19
How's that for free advertising for M&Ms! Must be the highest they've ever been:D

22nd Jun 2004, 13:00
when i was watching the coverage on the beeb they said that Rutan is keeping the exact altitude they went to a secret. Is this true or not, and if so why was that.

As an aside to win the X prize the aircraft needs to make two flights in a week. Do they need to carry to passengers as well, or does it just have to be capable of carrying 2 pax and a pilot. Basically does this count as the first of the 2 flights??

Whatever the outcome for the rest, well done guys for being there first!

22nd Jun 2004, 13:25
Cortilla, I believe it has to carry at least the ballast equivelant of those two passengers, but if I may be wrong.

John Farley
22nd Jun 2004, 15:23
I wouldn't even do that in my Cessna 152!

I don't blame you. But rather more modern designs of cockpit eliminated such gaps and slots for FOD ingress some time back....

22nd Jun 2004, 21:01
Excellent result! Well done to the whole team!

Was hoping to watch it live - but MSNBC failed to load and both BBC24 and Sky News had live coverage of that tw@t Blair:yuk: :yuk:

I remember the days of Sputnik 1, Sputnik 2, Laika, Vostok 1, Yuri Gagarin, Alan Shepherd, Valentina Tereschkova, Mercury, Gemini, Apollo - even STS1. But live coverage of the most important aerospace event since the Wright Brothers? Too much to ask for - the BBC pansies had BLOODY TENNIS on both channels.

Is there really so little interest in such truly pioneering achievements nowadays? Digiyoof probably thought it was created on a computer.....

Self Loading Freight
22nd Jun 2004, 23:23
Wasn't all fun and games...

http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996052 says

"'Anomalies' in first private spaceflight revealed

12:27 22 June 04

NewScientist.com news service

The flight of the first private astronaut was not as perfect as it first appeared – a number of glitches occurred during the flight, some potentially catastrophic.

The revelations were made by Burt Rutan, designer of SpaceShipOne, which on Monday became the world's first privately funded craft to enter space. Until the team fully understands exactly what went wrong during the flight, he said, they will not go ahead with the pair of flights needed to claim the $10 million Ansari X-Prize.

Luckily, the glitches did not prevent a successful flight. But pilot Mike Melvill said that a partial failure of the system controlling the spacecraft's orientation could have been disastrous if it had occurred just slightly earlier in the flight"

The article goes on to discuss problems with attitude and uncontrolled rolling at various stages in the flight, and I read elsewhere that they only got some 200 metres above the 'start of space' height - and I don't know the tolerances on how they measured that. So perhaps they're not sure themselves that they made it (not that it particularly matters).

Apparently, it's still quite dangerous to strap yourself into a home-made rocket and head on up to space at Mach 3,2!


Genghis the Engineer
22nd Jun 2004, 23:41
Apparently, it's still quite dangerous to strap yourself into a home-made rocket and head on up to space at Mach 3,2!
That was in doubt?

Seriously, this wasn't a "botch it together and see what happens" job, and I'm sure we all recognise that. Nonetheless, I've never heard of the first live run of something that takes this big a step forward being trouble-free, except at the senior management and press briefings.

My first degree was in astronautics, so unsurprisingly I know a few people in the trade. The phone has been red hot the last two days with "how can we do that here" conversations? Anybody got a couple of million spare? Also could do with a good high speed aerodynamicist with some time on their hands.


John Farley
23rd Jun 2004, 10:55
During the interviews with Melville and Rutan after the flight they mentioned that back up systems were needed, were used and saved the day. All part of good aeronautical design and Rutan does good designs – to put it mildly. To have him explain his thinking about any of his ground breaking projects to you on a one to one basis is a quite mind-blowing experience. The time he took me into his office back in 1990 is burned into my memory alongside other privileged conversations with Whittle, Hooker and Hooper. Amazing men.

9th Jul 2004, 11:38
The Beeb (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3876455.stm) :ok:

Private space ship 'back to form'

SpaceShipOne, the world's first private space craft, is back on course for the Ansari X-Prize after solving technical hitches following June's historic trip.

The craft, built by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, had a major flight-control problem towards the top of its 100km record-breaking voyage above the Earth.

Pilot Mike Melvill had to use a back-up system to maintain control of the craft

But Rutan now says the problem was merely "a brief lockout" which only lasted three seconds.

'Not as serious'

At a press conference following the historic journey on 21 June, Rutan told the world's media that there would be no further flights until they had found out what had gone wrong.

That meant the team's attempt at the $10m (Ģ5.7m) X-Prize would be put on hold.

But Rutan told BBC News Online that after analysis, the problem turned out to be minor.

The X-Prize awards the first team that sends a three-person craft to an altitude over 100km, and then repeats the feat in the same craft within two weeks.

"We plan our next two flights to be the X-Prize attempts. Announcement of the dates will be made by the X-Prize Foundation," he said.

He added: "We have high confidence that we will win this year."

Rutan said the team had examined data which explained SpaceShipOne's sudden roll which happened shortly after its motor ignited.

The data showed the problem with the actuator, the part that controls the flaps of the craft.

"We did have a trim anomaly that got our attention and caused us to switch to a backup system," he said.

"However, the problem was merely a brief lockout due to a servo being forced to its stop. It actually began working normally within three seconds, at which time we were on backup."

The actuator failed to move one of the flaps in time because it had "run against a stop", which shifted the ship off-course by 35km (22 miles).

He also told US magazine Wired that violent air currents had set off the rolls, sending the craft 90 degrees to the left.

Pilot Mike Melvill had attempted to correct this which sent the craft rolling 90 degrees right.

After flying the craft in a simulator, Rutan said it had cost the team 30,000 ft (9km).

Three for two

Now the problems had been ironed out, Rutan said that SpaceShipOne would not just settle for two flights during its X-Prize attempt, but three.

Rutan also said that passengers would not be part of the first X-Prize flight.

The rules state that the craft only needs to carry the ballast equivalent to two passengers, plus the pilot.

Any team which attempts the X-Prize must give 60 days' notice, which means the earliest SpaceShipOne would fly is the start of September.

Twenty-five other teams across the world are competing for the prize, including the British civilian space project Starchaser Industries.

That team plans to launch its own rocket in about 18 months

27th Sep 2004, 13:14
Next flight is supposed to take place on wednesday sept. 29th.

Sir Richard is jumping on the wagon.

I'm reviving this thread as my post on R&N got moved to Airlines, Airports & Routes (http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=146275), which I find a bit premature ;)

28th Sep 2004, 16:24
The above mentioned thread has been deleted :{ :confused:

29th Sep 2004, 13:20
Take-off scheduled today at 1447 BST (0647 PDT)
more here (http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996459)

MODS : apologies for the cross-posting, but as the subject is not deemed serious enough to remain on R&N, it is now on three dfferent forums.

29th Sep 2004, 15:35
Up they go ! :ok: :ok: :ok:

29th Sep 2004, 15:58
Bre901 is there somewhere to watch this event ?????

29th Sep 2004, 16:00
Click on "webcast" (http://xprize.primary.net/)

They drop it in 20 minutes!

29th Sep 2004, 16:40
Watched that live webcast with sweaty palms - surely it wasn't meant to go into that 360/sec roll when the main booster was on?

Amazing how tense it is watching these things live, you're very aware that a lot is at stake and its really pushing the boundaries.

- Michael

4th Oct 2004, 16:20
Todays flight reaches 368,000 feet, which is required to win the X-Prize.


Congratulations to all involved.