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Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Scaled Composites news: Second glide flight of SpaceShipOne.
Objectives: Same objectives as the aborted flight 31LC/04GC earlier today. Second glide flight of SpaceShipOne. Flying qualities and performance in the space ship re-entry or "feather" mode. Pilot workload and situational awareness while transitioning and handling qualities assessment when reconfigured. As a glider, stall investigation both at high and low altitude and envelope expansion out to 200 kts and 4 G's. More aggressive, lateral directional characteristics including adverse yaw, roll rate effectiveness and control, including 360 degree aileron roll, and full rudder side slips.
Results: Clean separation from launch at 48,200 feet and 105 knots, 8 miles north east of Mojave. First maneuver was a full stall, resulting in 70 KEAS at about 19 alpha. Good lateral control at minimum speed with ailerons and even better with rudder allowing timely control of roll-off tendencies. Second maneuver was unlocking the wing and commanding the full feathered mode (65 deg wing/tail jackknife). Transition to the feather mode occurred at 43,000 feet and 90 knots. As the tail booms and aft wing transitioned upward, the vehicle body smoothly pitched up and then returned to an approximately level pitch attitude during about 70 seconds of fully-feathered descent. The pilot noted the expected airframe buffeting and found the ship was very stable at an angle of attack of about 70 degrees. He was able to turn the vehicle both left and right with either rudder or aileron controls. As expected, full pitch control inputs had little effect on the flight path. Average sink rate was greater than 10,000 feet per minute. Reconfiguration back to the normal glider mode occurred at 30,000 feet with a positive wing lock indicated by on-board instrumentation and cameras. Third and forth maneuvers were the airspeed and G envelope expansion which were flown without incident. Fifth maneuver was roll-performance, which resulted in a low amount of adverse yaw but lower roll rates than expected. Three-axis vehicle flight characteristics again showed close correlation to the vehicle simulator. Shifting winds at the field during later stages of the descent allowed the pilot to exercise the avionics' flexibility for landing cuing back to Runway 12 vice the planned runway 30 at Mojave. A smooth touchdown was made ten and a half minutes after launch. The video cameras mounted on the spaceship recorded dramatic views particularly during the unique feather maneuver. Observers in the chase Starship were treated to a closeup bizarre view of the spaceship plunging downward in a rock-stable near vertical feathered descent. First public showings of these videos will be on 26 September at the annual SETP symposium in Los Angeles. Read More
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