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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Why You Can't Buy a Spaceflight
chabot imageYou can't just buy a ticket to space. Dennis Tito did once, but no one else has. Why is that?

Promoters of the Ansari X Prize understand that part of the reason is that there isn't a private group offering such a service. Maybe there will be soon.

Let me give you another reason. The government could have taken passengers for a long time, but they set the price too high. NASA, by refusing non-Senatorial passengers essentially set the price at an infinite number of dollars. The Russians were a little more forthcoming - $20 million plus a lot of headaches.

Wanna know more? I'm an economist, and I have a longer post about this entitled "Governments Don't Price Well" at my blog, voluntaryXchange.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Inductive kick, Miscellaneous
chabot imageInductive kick

We finally found out exactly why we have had the computer reboot on the big vehicle a couple times.

We were looking at various possibilities with the valves over rotating in case there might be a shorted spot in the feedback potentiometer. The pot never caused a problem, but we did occasionally see the computer crash right when the valve hit the shaft limit switch, and we found that we could also get the computer to crash by manually shorting or triggering the limit switches on some of the valves. It isn’t a current draw issue, because the actuator battery is separate from the computer battery, and manually shorting one of the powered actuator lines can burn the transistors, but not hurt anything else. Even with the actuator drivers and battery completely isolated from the computer power, the abrupt interruption of power to the motors would cause enough of an inductive kick in the other electronics to kill the computer. Russ put a scope on the computer power and found that there was a short +/-2 V buzz at very high frequency when the biggest valve hit the limit switch and crashed the computer. Using the driver board to switch directions didn’t kill things because the transistors provided a more gentle switching transient than the manual limit switches.


Saturday, June 26, 2004

Space.com: SpaceShipOne Data Shows Vessel Took a 'Trajectory Excursion'
chabot image
Flight data from the first private vehicle to soar beyond the Earth's atmosphere has been posted by Scaled Composites, designer and builder of the SpaceShipOne. The flight was not trouble-free.
With 63-year-old pilot Mike Melvill at the controls, SpaceShipOne’s fourth powered flight on June 21 sliced through the sky high over Mojave, California desert. It was the first commercial astronaut flight by exceeding 328,000 feet (100 kilometers) -- to the edge of space.
The flight marked the first time an aerospace program had successfully completed a piloted mission without government sponsorship.

Momentum carried the day
On the June 21 flight day, SpaceShipOne was released at 47,000 feet from underneath the White Knight carrier airplane. The SpaceShipOne’s hybrid rocket motor quickly roared to life, burning for 76 seconds, according to the Scaled Composites flight log.
The hybrid rocket engine propelled pilot Melvill and the SpaceShipOne to 2.9 Mach (2,150 miles per hour), or nearly three times the speed of sound. At motor burn out, SpaceShipOne was at 180,000 feet, with momentum carrying the craft the rest of the way into space and reaching a height, or apogee, of 328,491 feet (62.2 statute miles), or 100.1 kilometers. Read More

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Space Transport Corporation: Display Success at The Museum of Flight
chabot imageOn Sunday and Monday of Father’s Day weekend, Space Transport Corporation
displayed their Rubicon Ansari X PRIZE vehicle in Seattle at The Museum of Flight. At
the event, the 22-foot tall Rubicon, complete with orange nosecone, guidance system and
seven-engine rocket cluster (unfueled), was mounted in the guide rails of STC’s mobile
launch trailer.

On Monday, of course, Scaled Composites (Burt Rutan, Paul Allen and crew) achieved
the first private manned space flight. STC hails this as a wonderful achievement and an
event that shines a good light on all private space programs. It was a step for Scaled
towards winning the X Prize. However, Scaled will not be able to attempt an X Prize
winning flight for over two months. STC believes that a great opportunity still exists to
give Scaled a run for their money. Scaled will need to carry an additional 400 pounds of
payload to win the prize (this could cause them to come up short of the required 100
kilometers). Activity by other X Prize teams is also picking up to make for a lot of fun
and public awareness about private space travel. There is room for many companies to
succeed in private spaceware development, especially space tourism vehicles.
Based on the fact that an enormous market (a prize much bigger than the $10 M X Prize)
is waiting, STC is optimistic about raising funds needed to run its manned spaceflight
development program. The latest proud STC sponsor is the Forks Coffee House in
downtown Forks.

While at The Museum of Flight, media exposure of STC’s efforts, sparked by Scaled’s
test flight, was great. The exposure is a powerful demonstration to potential
sponsors/investors that STC is a serious space technology developer. Selected news
coverage videos will be (or are already) posted to www.space-transport.com/?stc=gallery.

STC expects to launch Rubicon to 15,000 feet on its maiden flight in mid-July from a
location on the Olympic Peninsula near Forks. Keep an eye on the latest updates at
STC has launched multiple three-stage rockets in the past two months, one reaching 50
kilometers. This pilot project has been valuable preparation for Rubicon flights. A flight
with photograph recovery is expected soon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Starchaser space firm to open New Mexico office
chabot imageStarchaser a British company that is seeking to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize purse says it will open an office in Las Cruces, New Mexico Economic Development Department Secretary Rick Homans said.

Starchaser Industries, based in Hyde, Cheshire, is looking to be the first private firm to put a reusable launch vehicle with a three-person crew 62.5 miles into space, return it safely to Earth and repeat the launch in the same vehicle two weeks later.

X PRIZE award officials say they hope the competition will spur a private space flight industry. New Mexico is hoping to become the center of that commercial space flight industry, and has already won the right to host the X PRIZE Cup, a two-week-long, annual space show that will take place in the summer of 2005.

Starchaser says it is committed to developing affordable, reusable space vehicles and that it hopes to begin launch operations in New Mexico as early as 2006. The launch operations will take place on New Mexico's 100-square-mile Southwest regional spaceport located north of Las Cruces, which is about 260 miles south of Albuquerque. Read More


Consultancy sponsors UK's "X prize" entry
Confidence at the Starchaser team has soared after they secured substantial sponsorship from Moliere Ltd to help produce the "Thunderstar" rocket they are entering in to the international "X prize".
The team has secured the cash from Manchester based computer consultant firm, Moliere Ltd, whose monies will fund the Launch Escape System (LES). The Launch Escape System will protect the crew from a variety of emergency scenarios, from a launch pad fire through all stages of powered flight. The LES is currently under construction and is a vital part of the Thunderstar rocket, Starchaser's latest hope in the race for the X prize - where the first enterprise to get a three man rocket in to space will net $10million (6.7m).

Still more sponsorship needs to be raised to help finish building the rocket.

X PRIZE Foundation Congratulates Burt Rutan, Mike Melvill, Scaled Composites and Paul Allen on Successful, History-Making Spaceflight
chabot imageCompeting ANSARI X PRIZE team makes milestone achievement in Mojave Desert on June 21, 2004

Los Angeles, CA (June 22, 2004) -- The X PRIZE Foundation extended congratulations to the American SpaceShipOne Team, led by Burt Rutan, on its successful June 21st manned test flight, which made its mark in history as being the first privately financed, manned ship to travel to space. The milestone is a giant step in the American SpaceShipOne Team’s plan to win the $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE Competition, created to open the space frontier for the public.

“The aim of the ANSARI X PRIZE is to change the existing paradigm that space travel is only for governments and traditional government astronauts,” says Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and Founder of the X PRIZE Foundation. “We congratulate the entire Scaled Composite team, in particular Burt Rutan and Mike Melvill for achieving this tremendous milestone. We also thank Paul Allen for his willingness to help open this critical, but risky frontier. The entire X PRIZE organization looks forward to receiving Scaled Composite’s 60-day notice indicating they are ready to make their attempt to win the $10 million purse. Once such notice is received, we will make the information publicly available.”

Before year’s end, several ANSARI X PRIZE teams are expected to make flight attempts with their 3-place spaceships. The ANSARI X PRIZE competition was inspired by the celebrated Orteig Prize won by Charles Lindbergh in 1927 for his historic flight from New York to Paris. The “new race to space” challenges today’s best and brightest entrepreneurs to create a safe, reusable, cost effective spaceship able to carry three individuals to an altitude of 100km (62 miles), bring them safely back to Earth and make the flight again within two weeks.

Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne flight on June 21st was not a qualifying ANSARI X PRIZE flight because it only carried the one pilot, without the weight equivalent of two other individuals. This flight was a test flight in preparation for competition flight attempts later this year.

The X PRIZE Foundation was created to help jumpstart a commercial public spaceflight industry. There is already a demonstrable consumer demand for such space tourism flight. Though early flights will carry a high price tag, the cost is expected to drop as new technology is developed and such flights become more routine. The X PRIZE Foundation is empowering entrepreneurs and visionaries worldwide to build and demonstrate different spacecraft designs to carry the rest of us into space.

About the X PRIZE Foundation
The X PRIZE Foundation is a not-for-profit educational organization, with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. The Foundation is supported by its title sponsor the Ansari Family and its Presenting Sponsor Champ Car World Series. The Foundation is also supported by private donations from the St. Louis Community through an organization called the New Spirit of St. Louis. The Foundation's mission is to create educational programming for students and space enthusiasts as well as provide incentives in the private sector to make space travel frequent and affordable for the general public. Several additional sponsorships for the ANSARI X PRIZE competition remain available to corporations or individuals who wish to support the X PRIZE and associate themselves with courage, determination, achievement, space, speed, high performance and technology.

To find out how individuals or corporations can join the efforts of the X PRIZE, or involve neighborhood schools or community centers with X PRIZE educational programs, visit www.xprize.org or contact the office at 636-519-9449.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

SpaceShipOne News and Rutan going to orbit sooner than you think!
chabot imageSpaceShipOne Update:

If you missed the flight, you can watch it all over (51 mins, 59 secs), click here to acces the real media file.
And click here to watch SpaceShipOne in space (1 min 50secs, but not constantly a space camera view)

Thanx to KC7RAD who made an xprize chat on the last minute, the link was available on the ANSARI X PRIZE forums; he released the chatlog.
The chat is still open for anyone intrested in chatting about the xprize, but for questions, you better share it with everyone on the forums.

When SpaceShipOne almost reached space, an other record was made, the ANSARI X PRIZE forums got a 67 users online at once, the previous record was a very low 18.

The flight of SpaceShipOne was a historical one, but still a test flight, so not without several anomalies.

Space.com: Private Spaceship Encounters Glitches In Record-Setting Flight

There were tense times during the sky-blistering flight of SpaceShipOne here this morning. Fighting control problems, pilot Mike Melvill wrestled with several anomalies that cut short a pre-planned altitude mark.

At a post-landing press briefing, the 63-year old Melvill described a series of technical snags that haunted his record-setting flight. Right after motor ignition, the pilot said the craft rolled 90 degrees to the left, then 90 degrees to the right. "It has never ever done that before," he explained. Read More

Scaled posted this article on their website: SpaceShipOne Makes History: First Private Manned Mission to Space
The world witnessed the dawn of a new space age today, as investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and Scaled Composites launched the first private manned vehicle beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. The successful launch demonstrated that the final frontier is now open to private enterprise.

Under the command of test pilot Mike Melvill, SpaceShipOne reached a record breaking altitude of 328,491 feet (approximately 62 miles or 100 km) (Apogee was 100.1241 km), making Melvill the first civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere and the first private pilot to earn astronaut wings.

This flight begins an exciting new era in space travel,” said Paul G. Allen, sole sponsor in the SpaceShipOne program. “Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites are part of a new generation of explorers who are sparking the imagination of a huge number of people worldwide and ushering in the birth of a new industry of privately funded manned space flight.” Read More

Scaled also reports that you can get official SpaceShipOne merchandise at: www.rocketboosters.org

Joan Horvath sent in this first hand report on the SpaceShipOne flight to hobbyspace.com.
hobbyspace.com notes: BTW: Joan will be on the Space Show this Sunday, June 27, 12-1:30pm Pacific Time. See the Space Show Newsletter for a biography of Joan. Tune in online at Live365.

spaceflightnow.com has a very detailed article about the SpaceShipOne event:
SpaceShipOne rockets into history
Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, also was on hand to greet the new astronaut "and to have him come up and shake my hand and congratulate me and tell me I'd joined the club, that was serious stuff, man," Melvill said. Click here to read A lot more about the event

Alan's Mojave weblog latest update include a lot of very nice pictures from the event.

Also rocketforge.org has pictures of the event, including one with Peter Diamandis (President of the ANSARI X PRIZE foundation) walking down the Mojave flight line.
Also Richard Branson was spotted at the event, Richard will make an announcement soon for his space tourism project (maybe he'll join up with scaled ?) you can speculate over here.

Maybe Allen and Sir Richard will join up for Tier 2 and Tier 3 ?
This article in the Popular Science mentions Burt Rutan his intentions to make a Tier 2 and Tier3!
After winning the X-Prize, Rutan will quickly move on to other challenges. During press conferences leading up to Monday's flights, he dropped hints about "going to orbit sooner than you think," an apparent allusion to the Tier 3 orbital space-vehicle program that he is reportedly involved in. The SpaceShipOne program is known as Tier 1, and Tier 2 would probably be a tour-bus-like version of the same concept, a vehicle capable of carrying up to 10 passengers on suborbital space flights. Under his contract with Allen, Rutan is required to deliver data on how much such a vehicle would cost to build and fly. Mojave Aerospace--a new company jointly owned by Allen and Rutan and disclosed this week--will own the rights to SpaceShipOne technology and would oversee future franchising and commercialization efforts for the system. Details will remain secret, said the cagey Rutan, "until we're ready to push something out of the door." Read the whole article

A few related News articles: (links from spacetoday.net)
spacedaily.com: New Entrants Versus Incumbents: Triumph of Truth and Technology
seattlepi.nwsource.com: The Captain Kirk of fiction relishes real spaceflight
borderlandnews.com: Spacecraft takes NM's hopes with it
news.ft.com: Enter the age of the day trip to space
newscientist.com: 'Anomalies' in first private spaceflight revealed
nature.com: SpaceShipOne scrapes into history

You can post or share your thaughts related to this news post on the ANSARI X PRIZE forum

Monday, June 21, 2004

SpaceShipOne Update
chabot imageThis is only 1 of the manny teams.. and only the first flight, 2 xprize spaceshipone flights still coming and ofcourse many more :)
So keep tuned ;) the coming weeks, months and years.. this will be dreams coming true.

SpaceShipOne made history; some updates:

floridatoday.com: SpaceShipOne flight journal (news step by step)

thespacereview.com: Prelude to history?

space.com: Success! SpaceShipOne Makes History with First Manned Private Spaceflight

news.bbc.co.uk: Private craft makes space history
cnn.com: Private craft flies into space
msnbc.msn.com: Private rocket ship breaks space barrier
wjla.com: Plane Soars Out of Earth's Atmosphere
ktla.trb.com: First Private Space Flight Returns Safely
globeandmail.com: Private rocket back on Earth
nbc17.com: First Manned, Private Spacecraft Reaches Space
reuters.co.uk: Private Rocket Plane Successfully Punches Into Space
universetoday.com: Success for SpaceShipOne!
kake.com: Historic Flight
stltoday.com: SpaceShipOne reaches space, returns
inhome.rediff.com: Spaceship launch successful
local6.com: First Manned, Private Spacecraft Reaches Space
suntimes.com: Rocket plane makes first private spaceflight
abcnews.go.com: Plane Soars Out of Earth's Atmosphere
tucsoncitizen.com: SpaceShipOne rocket plane climbs above Earth's atmosphere in first private space flight
nbc5i.com: First Manned, Private Spacecraft Reaches Space

SpaceShipOne Successfully Punches Into Space
chabot imageReuters - SpaceShipOne successfully punched beyond the earth's atmosphere on Monday in the world's first attempt at manned commercial space flight.
The privately funded rocket plane was released from a larger plane called the White Knight and ignited its rocket engine to enter space 62 miles above the earth.

The distinctive white rocket plane took off from a runway in the Mojave Desert in California, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, and was expected to land back there.

It's time!
chabot imageIt's time... Time to put on your TV or live internet streaming!

Go SpaceShipOne Go!


BBC free live stream: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsa/n5ctrl/live/now1.ram

50 minutes and counting down...
chabot imageAt the moment of writing, it's only 50 minutes before SpaceShipOne will go into space.

Peter Diamandis was interviewed on the Today show a few mins ago, He was articulate and enthusiastic.
Great quote: "I've offered to go as ballast." (source)

lol, perfect moment, xprize forum seems to have database errors...

Space.com: special SpaceShipOne report
chabot imageSpace.com put up a special page section with a special SpaceShipOne report.

History could change Monday when the first privately-built spacecraft carries a human into space. SPACE.com will report from Mojave, California. Complete coverage.

Web, TV, Radio Coverage: Viewer's Guide

if you're still looking for a web stream, MSNBC has in this article a link to the msn live stream starting at 9:30 am EST.

SpaceShipOne.. Almost time..
chabot imageIt's only hours away before spaceshipone will fly into space!

Some new articles:
bakersfield.com: Starship enterprise
bradenton.com: First privately built spacecraft set for sub-orbital flight
wireservice.wired.com: Private Rocket Plane to Launch from Mojave Desert
"We do want our children to go the planets," said Rutan, the pioneering aerospace engineer who also designed the Voyager aircraft, the first airplane to fly around the world without refueling.
The white rocket plane with its striking nose -- a pointed cone covered with small portholes, was built with more than $20 million in funding by Allen, who co-founded Microsoft Corp.
"Tomorrow we will attempt to add a new page to the aviation books," Allen told more than 300 reporters gathered for the event, "It's incredibly exciting."
If all goes well, Allen and SpaceShipOne's builders are expected to announce their next goal after SpaceShipOne's flight, the Ansari X Prize, which is offering $10 million to the first team that sends three people, or an equivalent weight, on a manned space vehicle 60 miles above the earth and repeats the trip within two weeks.
"I am ready to go, and we are going to win the X Prize," said Melvill, 62, a professional test pilot from South Africa with U.S. citizenship

seven.com.au: Privately developed rocket launched
news.scotsman.com: Private Rocket Counts Down to Make Aviation History
kansascity.com: SpaceShipOne flight could help usher in commercial space travel
usatoday.com: Private craft to head for space
taipeitimes.com: Private spacecraft takes to the skies today in test flight
thestar.co.za: All set for first privately manned spaceflight
news.tbo.com: Private Space Flight Is Go For Launch
deepikaglobal.com: Private US rocket plane to launch from Mojave desert
guardian.co.uk: High flyer may open the final frontier
floridatoday.com: Citizen aims for space today
washingtontimes.com: Space history awaited
chron.com: Civilian ready to pilot rocket
news.ft.com: Private rocket plane to launch in U.S
pe.com: Private space flight's D-day
dailynews.com: Private spacecraft out to make history
baltimoresun.com: Entrepreneurs vying to put a man in space
cooltech.iafrica.com: SA pilot to make historic space flight

An other xprize related article: digitaljournal.com: Canadians among Private Teams to Attempt Astronaut Launch

Some Updates
chabot imagefrom hobbyspace.com you can read "Rand Simberg will be blogging from Mojave."

Also reported by bobbyspace.com is: "The X PRIZE team Canadian Arrow is showing a picture of their vehicle on their home page with the statement that they will "start test flights this August." They also have updated the pages on their Space Centre, engine test stand (that's a good sized engine), and propulsion."

Armadillo Aerospace News: Good intentions, bad results
chabot imageArmadillo Aerospace: If anyone missed the mid-week update I did about the perfect flight of the small vehicle, go read that first. We had problems trying to hover the big vehicle this weekend.
A minor improvement I have made to the laptop software is to display the dilution of precision (PDOP) number from the GPS on the status light, because previously it would have been green even if it was running with very poor coverage. I need to spend some time and collect more GPS diagnostic information, like satellite S/N ratios, but I’m not sure if I want to add a lot more traffic to the serial port during actual run times.
The first problem we ran into was installing the batteries in the new battery boxes on the big vehicle. We have started using upset thread lock nuts for a lot of things now, but when rapidly tightening them down on one of the battery clamp studs, it galled onto the stud. We use stainless for everything, because a little mist of peroxide will corrode steel bolts pretty badly, but galling is a common issue for us. Using anti-seize prevents this, but we should probably use nylon insert lock nuts in areas that aren’t going to be heat affected, and leave the all-metal locking nuts just for areas near the engine. We had to cut off the studs and weld new ones in place, all inside the vehicle, because the battery boxes are permanently bonded in.
When we rolled the vehicle outside, we noticed something off when I ran an extra check on the jet vane controllers: vane one was moving about half speed one direction, but full speed the other direction. We puzzled over this a bit, finding that swapping controllers around always had that actuator displaying the move-slow-one-way behavior, so we were confident it was the actuator. This was the new one that we had replaced after melting one of them last test. We were thinking that we could still test with a slow drive, because it was still moving fast enough to work, but while exercising it with normal flight movement, Phil looked over our way and let out a cry of “Smoke!” A pretty good quantity of smoke was coming out of the cabin where the electronics were mounted. One of the motor drives was fried. Fortunately, we have plenty of spares of the driver board, so we prepped up another one and replaced it. To make us even more confused, when we tested the problem actuator directly with a manual switch box, it was full speed both ways, and when we pulled the valve off and tested it with a different channel on the burned board, it also ran fine both directions. The new driver board still showed the slow-one-way problem, so we stopped quickly to avoid smoking it. We finally thought to check the resistance from the motor drive to the vehicle frame, and found that there was a low resistance path from one of the drive leads to the motor shaft, which makes its way to the vanes, conductive graphite bearings, up through the engine, and back to ground through the spark plug return line. None of the other valves were like this. Read More

Waiting... for history...
chabot imageOn this moment... people from all over the world... are waiting for the first private space ship to write history with going into space.

Time is ticking.. and it's only 10 hours away from now(Time of writing) (see countdown at space.com).
Waiting for a new chapter in space travel... while we're all waiting.. we can remember the past with a few songs and a movie:

(Video and All music are from: To Touch the Stars: A Musical Celebration of Space Exploration)

Great movie:

Witnesses’ Waltz (Kristoph Klover) Stream
Fire in the Sky (Kristoph Klover) Stream MP3_Download
Hope Eyrie: (Julia Ecklar) Stream MP3_Download
Surprise!: (Gunnar Madsen) MP3_Download
The Pioneers of Mars (Karen Linsley) Stream MP3_Download
Others Standing By (Kristoph Klover) Stream MP3_Download
Dog on the Moon (Garry Novikoff) Stream
Legends (Julia Ecklar) Stream MP3_Download

Sunday, June 20, 2004

SpaceShipOne Articles Update
chabot imageOn this moment of writing.. it's only 12 hours away before SpaceShipOne with pilot Mike Melvill will make history!
SpaceShipOne related articles update: (not many new.. most websites report copies from eachother)

thestar.com: Closer to the stars
katu.com: Paul Allen-funded company hopes to launch private spacecraft
voanews.com: Private Team to Attempt Astronaut Launch
signonsandiego.com: Attempt set for first private manned spaceflight
dailyrecord.co.uk: HOME-MADE SPACESHIP
msnbc.msn.com: First private space pilot 'ready to go', Spectators gather for milestone space mission (INCLUDING FREE VIDEO - Burt Rutan and Paul Allen discuss SpaceShipOne's historic attempt.)

Centennial Challenges Workshop Summary
chabot imageI've received this text, from a person who asked to stay anonymous; he wrote:
I went to the recent Centennial Challenges workshop and had a blast! I typed up a report of the interesting things that happened there.

Centennial Challenges Workshop Summary

On June 15-16, engineers and scientists from all corners of the space industry converged on the Washington, D.C. Hilton to discuss the idea of NASA-sponsored prizes at the Centennial Challenges workshop. By making awards based on actual achievements, instead of proposals, Centennial Challenges seeks novel solutions to NASA's mission challenges from non-traditional sources of innovation in academia, industry and the public.

The conference comprised both plenary sessions, where the entire audience gathered in one large ballroom to hear various speakers such as rocket entrepreneur Elon Musk, Senator Sam Brownback, Presidential science advisor Jack Marburger, and Centennial Challenges program manager Brant Sponberg, and breakout sessions, where smaller groups brainstormed ideas for new prizes or hammered out possible rules for existing prize concepts.

The diversity of personalities – NASA employees, space entrepreneurs, academics, college students – led to numerous spirited debates. SpaceDev founder Jim Benson provoked much discussion when he told the audience that private industry could deliver the same products as NASA for one-fifth the cost. The soft-spoken but hard-hitting CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, assailed traditional contracting practices: “there’s a 100% chance the money will be spent.” Most present, however, agreed on one thing: prize competitions are a cost-effective way to generate innovation and excitement.

The afternoon of June 15 featured a lively panel discussion about past and current prize competitions. Colonel Jose Negron of the DARPA Grand Challenge brought action-packed videos showing the competing autonomous vehicles trying to avoid cliffs and rocks. Negron expects hundreds of teams to register for the DARPA Grand Challenge II to be held in 2005. X PRIZE founder Peter Diamandis, explaining the tortuous path the X PRIZE took before it became a success, at one point decided to “let CNN do the talking”; the monitor showed a CNN reporter praising the May flight of SpaceShipOne. X PRIZE Vice President Erik Lindbergh shared the story of his famous grandfather, whose pursuit of the Orteig Prize led to an aviation revolution. Although the panel’s discussion ran longer than expected, the speakers’ enthusiasm kept the audience captivated throughout.

During brainstorming sessions on June 15, moderators directed discussions of possible prize concepts in such areas as aeronautics, planetary systems, and bioastronautics. Every attendee of the workshop was given a chance to propose a prize concept. The diverse range of personalities contributed a diverse range of prize ideas: build an inflatable telescope, deflect an asteroid, create a 30-day unmanned aerial vehicle, develop the best material for human radiation shielding. Ten proposals were culled from the dozens of ideas generated and further discussed in Rules Development sessions on June 16.

Other breakout sessions were designed to fill in the blanks on ideas generated by an internal NASA study months before the workshop. Participants developed rules, definitions, judging methodologies, time limits, and possible purse sizes for each of 22 prize concepts. The prizes ran the gamut from a $100,000 purse for a precision lander to $20 million for an asteroid sample return. All ideas were recorded by the moderators present in each conference room.

The timing of the workshop could not have been better; on the second day of the workshop, the President’s Commission on Moon, Mars, and Beyond issued its long-awaited report, recommending that “Congress increase the potential for commercial opportunities related to the national space exploration vision… by creating significant monetary prizes for the accomplishment of space missions and/or technology developments.” The Commission also “strongly supports the Centennial Challenge program recently established by NASA.”

In the final hours of the workshop, Brant Sponberg detailed the next steps for the prize program. Sponberg and his staff of two will incorporate the volumes of suggestions generated by the workshop to develop detailed rules for various candidate prizes. Developing good rules is a crucial requirement for a successful prize, explained Peter Diamandis during the conference. In the next few months, Centennial Challenges hopes to issue the initial round of competitions, with purses of $250,000 or less. In the next fiscal year (2005), prizes of up to $20 million will follow. Judging by the enthusiasm of the workshop’s participants, Centennial Challenges will have no trouble getting people to compete for its prizes!

The identity of the first private-sector space pilot announced
chabot imageThe identity of the first private-sector space pilot was announced Sunday, as thousands of spectators gathered on the desert town to witness what may be the beginning of a new era in manned spaceflight.

The main event is scheduled for Monday morning, when pilot Mike Melvill will power the SpaceShipOne rocket plane to a height of 62 miles (100 kilometers), the internationally recognized boundary of outer space.

Melvill, 62, is vice president and general manager of Mojave-based Scaled Composites, which built SpaceShipOne and its White Knight carrier airplane. He also piloted the previous test flight, which took the ship to an altitude of 211,400 feet on May 13.

MSNBC: The Last Word: Paul Allen
chabot imageThis Monday a sleek rocket-powered glider named SpaceShipOne will lift off from an airfield 95 miles north of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert and thrust to the very edge of space. It will be a historic achievement: the first piloted spacecraft built and launched not by a government but by a private company, Scaled Composites, whose founder, Burt Rutan, is a legend in the field of aircraft design. But Rutan couldn't have reached this milestone without the deep pockets of backer Paul Allen, cofounder of Microsoft and the fifth richest man in the world. Normally reluctant to talk to the press, the 51-year-old Allen spoke to NEWSWEEK's Brad Stone last week about why he spent a rumored $30 million on the project, the risks of manned space travel and President George W. Bush's timetable for sending Americans back to the moon and on to Mars. Excerpts:

STONE: Why did you fund this project?
ALLEN: I was looking for possible space-related endeavors that I could participate in. Burt is a very talented guy, and any projects you'd want to do, Burt is the person to talk to. He has such an innovative mind and a great team of people familiar with how you could [build] unusual vehicles. He and his team are experts at using carbon composites to build very light but very strong vehicles. And then the X Prize [a $10 million prize for the first private spacecraft to reach suborbital space] got announced. Through friends I met with Burt, and we hit it off right away. He started sketching ideas.
Why did you keep your investment a secret for so long?
Since the X Prize is a competition, I wanted to keep it under wraps. We have a modest budget, but maybe it is higher than some other teams. Keeping it secret helped give us the lead.
What were your thoughts about the risks of this project after the space-shuttle Columbia tragedy?
Anything like that heightens your awareness of the risks involved. But it's not like Burt or I or any of his team weren't aware of them. We didn't stop work.
Are we on the verge of a commercial space-tourism industry?
We have shown that you can construct a vehicle like this with a modest budget. The big question is, how many people will sign up, and will they pay $50,000 to $200,000 to go on one of those flights. It's not something I would contemplate unless I had partners willing to share the risk. I'm not personally really looking much beyond Monday, and then winning the X Prize. Read More

News Articles Update
chabot imageAn other news links update...

TheCelebrityCafe.com: Privately Funded Rocket Planes to Compete for ANSARI X Prize!
stuff.co.nz: Private rocket plane aiming for space flight prize
ajc.com:(subscription) First private spaceflight ready to go
floridatoday.com: Stakes are big as test flight aims to make space history
startribune.com: Aiming for space without the help of a government
taipeitimes.com: From private enterprise to space pioneer
chron.com: Private space travel years away, But companies race to fill huge potential market
kansas.com: Kansan poised to launch his dream into space
msnbc.msn.com: Space Travel: Great Space Coaster?
azcentral.com: Spaceship launch a big draw
boston.com: Rocket plane strives to break space barrier
indystar.com: Private spaceflight set
herald.ns.ca: Ground control to Mr. Tom
sunherald.com: A whisper of creation, a glimpse of infinity
duluthsuperior.com: Ground control to Average Joe...
sunherald.com: Future of private space travel rides on Monday flight
boston.com: Can prize competitions spur innovation that government bureaucracies can't?
toledoblade.com: Business nearer to private flights
news.bbc.co.uk: Prize flights: Making aviation history
chicagotribune.com: (subscription) Prize puts eyes on next frontier
theage.com.au: The great leap up
theage.com.au: Pioneering space history

Saturday, June 19, 2004

SpaceShipOne Articles Update
chabot imageBecause we traced 144 news releases between now and the last articles update, I won't be able to post them all ;).
It's amazing to see how many news papers arround the world are writing stories about the space race compared to few days ago.

A few articles:
heraldtribune.com: Attempt set for first private manned spaceflight
story.news.yahoo.com: Private, Manned Spacecraft Set for Launch
wane.com: Private space craft readying for launch
nbc4columbus.com: Private Space Craft Prepared For Launch
xposed.com: First Private Manned Spaceshot Attempt Set
firstcoastnews.com: Private Rocket Ready for Launch
sundayherald.com: One small step for the private enterprise spacemen (Nice title ;))
telegraph.co.uk: Up tiddlee up up

Space race encounters forks in road
chabot imageFORKS -- Despite a glitch in their test flight on Wednesday, the Olympic Peninsula's top rocket scientists are not daunted -- not by any technical setbacks, Paul Allen's money or the fact that most people may think they don't have a snowball's chance of winning the X Prize.
"I think we're pretty competitive," said Eric Meier, 26, the mechanical engineering half of Space Transport Corporation of Forks. He smiled optimistically while bolting together one of six 10-foot long tubes that will hold solid fuel for STC's "Rubicon" rocket.
"Our approach is a lot simpler," added Phil Storm, also 26 years old and the other half of this budding space travel company located here in the soggy heart of timber country. Storm's specialty is in the mathematics, electronics and computing of the rocket, although both of them do a little bit of everything.
While some may scoff at the chance of two young men in Forks succeeding in an international space race, there are a few reasons not to: They are, actually, rocket scientists; and, the experts also scoffed at Charles Lindbergh and at those two bicycle repairmen/brothers from Ohio named Wright.
Both Storm and Meier previously worked as engineers at Aerojet Corp. in Redmond -- a company that inspects and repairs engines for the space shuttle and various other space vehicles.
Meier also put in a summer stint at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in 1998.
"At first, people in town were kind of skeptical about them," said local businessman Don Grafstrom. But once Meier and Storm made their pitch, Grafstrom said, the town adopted them like long lost sons. Read More

SpaceShipOne Articles Update
chabot imagenewsfromrussia.com: SpaceShipOne to try for space
All spaceflight is risky, any expert will tell you. Maiden voyages can be particularly tricky, given all the unknowns. Even SpaceShipOne, a smooth-operating, trusty craft, had a mishap upon landing during a test flight last December.
But the lure to break the bonds of Earth is strong. So strong that in a survey of the more than 100 people who have paid deposits to eventually go into space on a suborbital tourist flight, more than two-thirds said that if given the chance they would hop aboard SpaceShipOne on Monday for its first attempt to reach the great beyond.

tvnz.co.nz: Private space rocket ready for launch
thestar.com: Voyage to edge of space
investors.com: Final Frontier: Private Enterprise Counts Down For Space Travel
kansas.com: Privately funded rocket, pilot set for trip to suborbital space

Alan Boyle: Who wants to go to space?
chabot imageStudies have indicated that thousands of people would eventually be willing to take suborbital rides like Monday's scheduled SpaceShipOne trip. But at what point does the allure of a rocket-powered thrill outweigh the perceived risk of catastrophic failure? If you had the money and the opportunity, would you take a passenger seat on Monday's flight?
Most of the folks who have already signed up for a future suborbital jaunt say they would, according to an informal survey by Space Adventures.
The Virginia-based company has collected deposits from more than 100 would-be space tourists — and claims the title of the world's first "spaceline." (That point is debatable.) In addition to its suborbital aspirations, Space Adventures already has helped put millionaires Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth in orbit, and is currently working with inventor/entrepreneur Greg Olsen. There are even rumblings that the company may be involved in talks on a future space-themed reality-TV show. Read More

space.com: Monday's Private Spaceflight: Historical Milestone or Stunt Flying?
chabot imageA privately built rocket plane is ready to streak through the sky over Mojave, California desert on June 21. Project officials herald it as the first non-governmental piloted flight to leave the Earth's atmosphere.
Built by Scaled Composites of Mojave, California, SpaceShipOne is set to become the world’s first commercial manned space vehicle. Investor and philanthropist Paul Allen and aviation technologist Burt Rutan, head of Scaled Composites, have teamed to create the program.
If all goes according to plan, the hybrid motor-propelled rocket plane will carry its pilot some 62 miles (100 kilometers) into suborbital space above the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center, a commercial airport in the California desert. Gliding to a landing strip stop, "it will signal that the space frontier is finally open to private enterprise," explains a Scaled Composites release about the flight. Read More

SpaceDev Shares Soar Along With SpaceShipOne
chabot imageShares in SpaceDev soared to an all-time high today in anticipation of the first privately financed manned space flight on Monday.

The aerospace firm designed and built the hybrid rocket motor that, if the mission is successful, will propel flight pioneer Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne into suborbital space and history.

The dart-like aircraft, built and operated by Rutan's Scaled Composites Inc., is expected to fly to the edge of space, about 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, above the Earth's surface. The United States awards astronaut status to anyone who flies above 50 miles in altitude.

The SpaceDev rocket motor, which literally burns rubber for fuel, has been used in three earlier test flights of SpaceShipOne in preparation for the June 21 event at the Mojave Airport. On May 13, the rocket plane climbed to 211,400 feet, more than 40 miles above the Earth. Read More

SpaceShipOne Articles update
chabot imageBecause of the large amounth of news releases, I'll only post the links to the articles, no short preview.

abcnews.go.com: Private Rocket Plane Aiming for Space Flight Prize
reuters.co.uk: (same article) Private Rocket Plane Aiming for Space Flight Prize
truthnews.net: World: First Private Manned Space Mission Set To Blast Off
ktok.com: First Private, Returnable Spaceflight Expected Next Week
wbex.com: (same article) First Private, Returnable Spaceflight Expected Next Week
ascribe.org: Wichita State Alumnus Part of Historic Privately Financed Space Flight
nature.com: Private rocket aims for the stars
linuxinsider.com: Space Travel Ready To Go Private

Alan's Mojave Airport Weblog update
chabot imageJune 18, 2004 - The FAA today designated Mojave Airport as America's first inland spaceport, in advance of Monday's launch attempt by Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne. As soon as the designation was announced, airport crews got busy putting up signs on both the old and new control towers.

He also included very nice pictures:

Friday, June 18, 2004

Space.com: Big Secret: Who Will Fly SpaceShipOne?
chabot imageWho is piloting the first non-governmental rocket ship in an attempt next week to fly to the edge of space?
According to sources close to the project, the decision by those in the know at Scaled Composites - operators of the privately-built SpaceShipOne - remains a tight-lipped, vacuum packed secret.
The chosen pilot - picked from among a small cadre of previously announced Scaled Composites astronauts - is to be revealed at a press conference to be held this Sunday, the day before the slated June 21st flight of the rocket plane.
The flight-worthy four are: Brian Binnie, Mike Melvill, Doug Shane, and Pete Siebold.
Of that group, Mike Melvill has chalked up the most time behind the controls of SpaceShipOne, counting captive flights, freefall glides and the last powered flight of the craft. He has worked for Burt Rutan for over 26 years and has some 24 years of experience as an experimental test pilot.
However, out of the last three rocket-powered flights, Pete Siebold, Brian Binnie, as well as Melvill have each taken their turns at punching the rocket motor start button. More Info

Space Adventures Announces Results of Suborbital Client Survey
chabot imageClose to 70% would fly on the inaugural SpaceShipOne suborbital spaceflight
Space Adventures, Ltd., the world's leading space experiences company, announced today the results of an informal survey of the over 100 people who have paid deposits to fly on a suborbital vehicle.
The survey was conducted exclusively with individuals who have paid at least a $10,000 (USD) deposit for the flight that will ultimately cost $102,000 (USD). Results from the survey that was administered on June 15 -17, 2004 include:
Would you be willing to fly on SpaceShipOne if a seat were made available on the first flight?
69% I'd be on the first flight
19% Not the first flight, but one soon after
12% I'd like to see a few more flights first
Click here for more...

space.com: Ready for Historic Launch: FAA Grants Mojave Airport First Inland Spaceport License
chabot imageSpace.com: The Mojave Airport Civilian Test Center in Mojave, California is proudly displaying on their web site that they are "America's First Inland Spaceport" after receiving official licensing by the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of the Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST).
A launch site operator license was granted to the Mojave Airport on June 17.
"We got it," exclaimed Stuart Witt, Mojave Airport manager. "It's nice to be first," Witt told SPACE.com.
The paperwork has cleared government in-and-out-box procedures just in time.
The civilian Mojave Airport is takeoff point for the record-setting attempt by SpaceShipOne as the first non-governmental rocket ship to fly to the edge of space.
That piloted suborbital leap by the Scaled Composites-built rocket plane is slated for Monday, June 21.

UPDATE: Alan boyle also wrote an article related to this news:

chabot imageXPrize.org reports: ARCA Team Leader Dumitru Popescu announced today that his Ansari X PRIZE demonstrator vehicle is moving forward to the flight test stage. According to the team's press release, the "World's first composite materials reusable monopropellant rocket engine will be flight tested in July on board the Demonstrator 2-B rocket. The first flight will be made below 10 km, mainly because of the launch site restrictions." ARCA plans for this technology to be used on the ORIZONT, its Ansari X PRIZE vehicle, with manned flights starting with the next year.

chabot imageXPrize.org reports:
Motels for miles around will be filled. Campers will line the roads in competition for the best viewing spot. Traffic will be a mess. It's not the old Cape Canaveral, but it will seem like it. CNN will broadcast live the first attempt to launch a general aviation pilot into space out of Mojave, California. The launch aircraft with SpaceShipOne underneath will taxi from its hangar at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time on Monday, June 21. The goal is 328,084 feet (100 kilometers), the altitude at which "space" officially begins. Monday's flight will not orbit the Earth, however. SpaceShipOne, a craft built by Burt Rutan and the team of Vulcan, Inc., funded by Vulcan owner Paul G. Allen, made it to 211,400 feet on May 13. There are 500 media representatives signed up to cover Monday's event.

Mojave Airport Americas First Inland Spaceport
chabot imageMojave Airport is officially Americas First Inland Spaceport
Launch Site Operator License # LSO 04 009

For more information take a look at http://www.mojaveairport.com/

Next SpaceShipOne Articles update
chabot imageArticles:
rferl.org: First Private Manned Space Mission Set To Blast Off
A commercial aerospace company is planning to launch the first private manned mission to space. If successful, the spacecraft's creators will be a step closer to winning a $10 million dollar offered as an incentive for private industry to catch up with government space programs. But can the private sector really reinvigorate space exploration as some backers claim?
On 21 June, a unique space mission is set to take off from the Mojave Desert in the U.S. state of California.
First, an elegant airplane called the "White Knight" will take off from the runway with a three-person spacecraft slung under its belly. About 15 kilometers over the desert, the spacecraft, called "SpaceShipOne," will detach from the larger carrier plane and fire its rockets, blasting off to an altitude of 100 kilometers -- the edge of space. It will spend just three minutes outside the Earth's atmosphere, and then coast back down to the airport where crowds of spectators will be waiting.

ecommercetimes.com: Space Travel Ready To Go Private
"SpaceShipOne already has some impressive successes on the way to space, and I think it has a good chance of making it the rest of the way," said Marc Rayman, director of NASA's DeepSpace 1 mission, which successfully tested a new spacecraft propulsion system and other technologies.
Commercial aviation began within a decade of the Wright Brothers' 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk. Yet 43 years after Yuri Gagarin's first manned space flight, you still can't book a seat on a regularly scheduled spaceship.
Weather and technology permitting, the era of commercial manned space flight finally may open next week, when the first privately developed rocket plane is scheduled to launch into history.

upi.com: Space Race II: A 'private' astronaut
A series by United Press International exploring the people, passions and business of sub-orbital manned spaceflight.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., June 18 (UPI) -- Like many kids growing up in the 1960s and early '70s, Peter Diamandis dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Actually, he did more than dream.
At the soulful age of 9, with the Apollo 13 drama unfolding on national television, shy little Peter sat in his fourth-grade science class in Mount Vernon, N.Y, listening to a classmate present a report about planets.
"In that moment I felt like there was nothing more important in the world than exploring space," said Diamandis, now 43. Everything in my life became about space. Every school book I owned I littered with doodles of rockets and far-away planets."
So he followed the path of all ambitious, bright students who wanted to fly in space and got himself accepted at a prestigious university -- the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Then Diamandis topped his undergraduate and master's degrees with a medical degree from Harvard. He confesses the med school bit was his parents' idea, but once he realized becoming a doctor would help his chances of being accepted into the astronaut corps, he went along with their wishes.
Then something very sobering happened: an astronaut told him the straight scoop about life at NASA.
"First off, he told me your chances of getting in to the astronaut corps are maybe one in 1,000, and even if you are accepted your chances of flying are 50-50. To get to fly you have to be very well-behaved, you have to do and say everything you are told, and you have to follow the rules. Then, if you're lucky, you might get two flights during your career," Diamandis told United Press International.

Some other articles
chabot imageArticles:
smh.com.au: Bucket-shop rocket will shoot for the final frontier
Tourism's final frontier is ready to take one giant leap.
On Monday night, Sydney time, a century after Orville Wright's first flight and 43 years after Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth, a man will attempt to become the first person to reach space aboard a privately owned rocketship.
The unnamed pilot won't go into orbit, and the trip will last just 30 minutes. But if all goes well he will rise 100 kilometres in a craft named SpaceShipOne, enjoying three minutes of weightlessness.
"I believe the Government is the reason it's unaffordable to fly into space," says SpaceShipOne's designer, Burt Rutan. "Their help causes cost problems. I want to ... show it can be cheap."
If SpaceShipOne twice repeats the achievement, making two flights carrying three people in two weeks, Rutan will win the $14 million X-Prize offered in 1996 by a St Louis foundation to "jump-start the space tourism industry". Rutan, president of Scaled Composites, a company that develops revolutionary aircraft, says a ticket could cost less than $115,000.

newscientist.com: Civilian craft ready to make space history
On Monday, just a few months after the hundredth anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight, another historic flight may be added to the record books - the first civilian space flight.
The craft that will make the attempt, SpaceShipOne, is built by aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan and his company Scaled Composites,. He believes the flight could mark the start of another new age, in which spaceflight could become as commonplace as today's air travel.
Rutan's sleek little two-part rocket system is a far cry from the converted missiles that began the age of human spaceflight, and from the astoundingly complex space shuttles that require thousands of full-time workers to keep them flying. If the shuttle can be likened to a cargo truck, then the new craft is like a sports car.
The craft will launch on its maiden voyage into space with just a pilot on board, although it is designed to also carry two passengers. Assuming the flight succeeds, the as-yet-unnamed pilot will become the first person ever enter space on a non-government-funded rocket, and thus become the first true civilian astronaut.

Space.com: Viewer's Guide to Monday's First Piloted Private Space Flight
chabot imageThe public is invited to watch history made Monday when a company called Scaled Composites attempts to launch the first piloted commercial vehicle into space.
Event planners expect a cosmic Woodstock. Motels in the area are mostly booked and plans are in place for an all-night party.
The flight of SpaceShipOne from an airport-turned-spaceport in California's Mojave Desert is scheduled to begin shortly after 9:30 a.m. ET (6:30 local time). Company officials expect a smooth flight, but anyone who follows the space industry knows that every flight has inherent risks.
Weather permitting, the craft will be carried aloft aboard the White Knight, a somewhat conventional airplane built specially for this purpose. An hour after taking off from the Mojave Airport, at about 50,000 feet, the White Knight will release SpaceShipOne, whose pilot will fire a rocket, powered by rubber and laughing gas, for about 80 seconds.
SpaceShipOne should soar to 62 miles (100 kilometers), crossing the threshold of space on a suborbital trajectory. The pilot, who has not yet been named, would officially become an astronaut.
According to plan, the craft will spend about three minutes in weightlessness, then glide back to Earth. It will land about 1 hour and 25 minutes after the initial takeoff in the same location.
The launch is planned for early morning because winds tend to pick up later in the day. Weather could scrub the launch, possibly pushing it back a day or more. Read More

Also on space.com: Edge Of Space Before SpaceShipOne (history)

SpaceShipOne Articles update
chabot imageArticles:
nynewsday.com: ‘X’ marks the spot for private rocket contestA stubby rocket plane, fueled by rubber and laughing gas, is to be launched Monday in an attempt to send a human to suborbital space for the first time in a privately funded vehicle.
The trip would provide the pilot a brief period of weightlessness, about three to four minutes, as the craft climbs about three times the speed of sound toward an altitude of 62 miles.
While a far cry from the more demanding challenge of sending a craft into orbit around the Earth, the upcoming flight is being touted as a first step toward creating a new space tourism industry.

wired.com: Regular Folks to Kiss the Sky
Something big is supposed to happen in the sky above the California desert town of Mojave early Monday. Just after dawn, a spindly white jet plane is scheduled to ascend from an airstrip with a rocket ship slung beneath it. The pair, resembling a dragonfly mating with a winged bratwurst, will climb to an altitude of nearly 10 miles.
After that, history: The jet, dubbed White Knight by creator Burt Rutan, will release the craft, called SpaceShipOne. The ship’s pilot will ignite its engine for an 80-second burn designed to boost the craft to three times the speed of sound. Then, SpaceShipOne is expected to soar to 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) above the Earth’s surface and pop across the threshold of space before gliding back to Mojave.

gazettetimes.com: First private, returnable spaceflight expected next week
Early next week, if all goes well, America's long quest for dominance in space will reach a new milestone high above the Mojave Desert in California.
The proceeds from a mighty software fortune will launch the first commercial astronaut into space.
SpaceShipOne, a rocket plane developed by aircraft designer Burt Rutan and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, will burn a trajectory 62 miles high, well beyond the atmospheric boundaries of Earth. Its astronaut will become the first to reach space without the benefit of NASA, Houston mission control, or a penny of government support.

zwire.com: Early next week, if all goes well, America's long quest for dominance in space will reach a new milestone high above the Mojave Desert in California.
The proceeds from a mighty software fortune will launch the first commercial astronaut into space.
SpaceShipOne, a rocket plane developed by aircraft designer Burt Rutan and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, will burn a trajectory 62 miles high, well beyond the atmospheric boundaries of Earth. Its astronaut will become the first to reach space without the benefit of NASA, Houston mission control, or a penny of government support.

Space flight: the new extreme sport
chabot imageLaunching into outer space is the next extreme sport, according to Brian Feeney, Team Leader of the DaVinci Project, one of 27 teams competing in the X-Prize. Initiated in 1996, the X-Prize is an international competition to design, build and develop a craft capable of launching three people 100 km into space, return them safely, and repeat the achievement with the same vehicle within two weeks. The X-Prize founder, Peter H. Diamandis, predicts that the competition will be won in the next few months. In fact, SpaceShipOne, a California based contender has set a June 21 launch date. Two Canadian teams, the Toronto based DaVinci Project and the London based Canadian Arrow, are rising to the challenge.
The $10 million prize is based on an insurance system that expires on January 1, 2005. If no team has won by that date, the cash reward is revoked.
To date, the DaVinci Project has received over $4 million in cash and in kind services and materials. Currently 200 members are actively involved, although over 500 people have participated over the project's lifetime. The current plan is to have a helium balloon carry the vehicle to a height of 24,400 metres, before the rest of the vehicle proceeds to its destination height of 100 km. At 85 km, the self-stabilizing spherical capsule separates. Each piece has its own parachute system, complete with redundancy for safety. The selected launch site, the Kindersley Airport in Saskatchewan, was chosen due to safety considerations, regional support and favourable weather conditions that provide a high number of possible launch days. Read More

BoingBoing blog reporting from Mojave
chabot imageboingboing.net reports:
Hi all, The folks at MHV are continuing to get the various sites ready for the influx of people, who seem to already be arriving. Several RVs drove slowly down the flightline.
The White Knight, which was doing a number of touch and goes day before yesterday, was out doing maintenance runs today.
Yesterday's update generated a couple of questions:
1 -- Can a person sleep in their car on the airport overnight Sunday night? No. The general parking area won't open till 3am. Only self-contained RVs will be allowed on the airport overnight. There is a large open lot across Hwy 58 from where big-rig trucks usually overnight, and that might be an option. I do understand, however, that a number of people plan on lining up on the shoulder of 58 around midnight. Don't know if they'll get chased away or not. There's a CHP (California Highway Patrol, for you out-of-staters) station adjacent to the airport, so they may be out in force. Read More

Thursday, June 17, 2004

chabot imageOn Sunday night, all are welcome to an informal tailgate party sponsored by the National Space Society (NSS). Celebrate the historic launch with old and new friends near the RV area at the airport. Check the website, www.nss.org, for more information. It's the place to be on Sunday night!

The National Space Society's vision is people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth. NSS members promote change in social, technical, economic, and political conditions to advance the day when people will live and work in space.

chabot imageThe President's Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy calls on Congress to create "significant monetary prizes for the accomplishment of space missions and/or technology developments..." In addition the report strongly endorses the NASA Centennial Challenges prize program.
The 9 person Commission, Chaired by Edward Aldridge, Jr. and which included such luminaries as Carly Fionna of HP, lunar expert Paul Spudis and astronomer Neil Tyson mention prizes no less than 17 times in their 60-page report (X PRIZE is twice mentioned in this report issued on June 16)."
The report also contains frank and refreshing acknowledgement of the risks inherent in space exploration and the need for open and honest communication about risk a position that the X PRIZE Foundation has taken since its inception.
Peter Diamandis, Erik Lindbergh and Gregg Maryniak received a copy of the report at the first NASA Centennial Challenges Workshop held this week in Washington, DC. They spoke to the more than 200 attendees in addition to moderating panels on prizes for future human spaceflight prizes, bioastronautics prizes, as well as prizes for development of beamed power and space resource utilization technologies. In addition, Elon Musk (a member of the New Spirit of St. Louis Organization and founder of the new rocket company Space X) provided a keynote address on the importance of prizes as a tool to rejuvenate the aerospace industry.

Some other articles
chabot imageSpaceShipOne related articles:
csmonitor.com: Out on the Mojave: space shot for the common man
Down Route 58, past tangles of scrub brush and 20 miles of landscape that ripples in the heat of the high California desert, America took its first steps into the space age in the 1960s.
For the generation of test pilots who would become America's first astronauts, this was the launching pad for the impossible - where machines took humans faster and higher than ever before.
Monday morning, as the sun creeps over the umber edge of the San Gabriel mountains, a local engineer famous for his independent attitude and revolutionary ideas will seek to take that spirit into the 21st century. If all goes as planned, his SpaceShipOne will shoot straight up - 62 miles above the Mojave sand to where the sky is as black as shale - and for the first time a human will reach space unaided by any government. Read More

newsday.com: Rocket plane scheduled for Mon. launch
A stubby rocket plane, fueled by rubber and laughing gas, is to be launched Monday in an attempt to send a human to the edge of space for the first time in a privately funded vehicle.
The suborbital trip would provide the pilot a brief period of weightlessness, about three to four minutes, as the craft climbs at about three times the speed of sound toward an altitude of 62 miles.
While a far cry from the more demanding challenge of sending a craft into orbit around the Earth, the upcoming flight is being touted as a first step toward creating a new space tourist industry.
Burt Rutan, the aerospace entrepreneur who built the rocket plane, called SpaceShipOne, is among the entrants in a competition for the $10-million Ansari X Prize, backed by private donors. It is modeled after such prizes as the $25,000 Orteig Prize that inspired Charles Lindbergh's 1927 solo trans-Atlantic flight. Rutan's project is being funded by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen. Read More

And also nynewsday.com reports the same article as newsday.com: Rocket plane scheduled for Mon. launch

SpaceShipOne Articles Update
chabot imageSpaceShipOne Articles:
Wired.com: Regular Folks to Kiss the Sky
Something big is supposed to happen in the sky above the California desert town of Mojave early Monday. Just after dawn, a spindly white jet plane is scheduled to ascend from an airstrip with a rocket ship slung beneath it. The pair, resembling a dragonfly mating with a winged bratwurst, will climb to an altitude of nearly 10 miles.
After that, history: The jet, dubbed White Knight by creator Burt Rutan, will release the craft, called SpaceShipOne. The ship’s pilot will ignite its engine for an 80-second burn designed to boost the craft to three times the speed of sound. Then, SpaceShipOne is expected to soar to 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) above the Earth’s surface and pop across the threshold of space before gliding back to Mojave. Read More

nzherald.co.nz: Counting down to a new space race
The early days of aviation must have looked a little like this: an enthusiastic crowd of thousands of people heading out to a remote airfield at the crack of dawn to watch a sleek metal contraption, the likes of which they have never seen, daring to perform new, untested stunts.
Such a scene is expected at Mojave airport in the desert 100 miles north of Los Angeles on Monday morning (local time), as one of the most innovative aviation companies in the business attempts the world's first non-governmental manned spacecraft flight. The Woodstock of space, some people are calling it. Read More

MSNBC: The New Space Race
(via hobbyspace.com) MSNBC created a new site section: The New Race To Space Gold rush on the final frontier;
which holds links to its articles on the SS1 and other X PRIZE related events...

Space.com: Armadillo Scores Test Liftoff Success In Bid For X Prize
chabot imageA sky-high success has been reported by Armadillo Aerospace of Mesquite, Texas. The group scored a perfect test flight June 15 of prototype hardware as part of their X Prize project, the Black Armadillo.
Armadillo is one group among over two dozen teams from seven nations trying to win the Ansari X Prize – a $10 million offering that expires on January 1, 2005.
That cash purse will go to the first team that privately finances, builds and launches a craft capable of hauling three individuals up to 62.5 miles (100 kilometers) altitude, returns safely to Earth, then duplicates that suborbital flight with the same vehicle in the span of two weeks.
Leading Armadillo’s bid to snag the X Prize is John Carmack, co-founder and chief technical engineer of id Software. He admits to being a long-time rocketry enthusiast, anxious to send civilians into space.
"The flight was perfect. It went 131 feet high, and landed less than one foot from the launch point," Carmack reported on his publicly accessible web site. "It can easily do flights three times as long, which may show up some problems before we hit them with the big vehicle." Read More

chabot imageThe Environmental Control Life Support Systems (ECLSS) is a green cylindrical test chamber, measuring approximately 2m x 1.5m, which has been designed to monitor four physical parameters: carbon dioxide (CO2), oxygen (O), temperature and relative humidity, in replicating the physical environment required for travel into space.

Intially, up to three Starchaser personnel at a time spent up to two hours sealed into the ECLSS test chamber. In order to push the system still further 1 volunteer was strapped in for a record breaking 6 hour stint.

The remit, over the period of one day, was to monitor an ECLSS volunteer so that variations in a number of biological parameters could be measured. These included pulse, respiration, ECG, non-invasive blood pressure (NBP), end tidal carbon dioxide (etCO2), pulse oximetry (SpO), and temperature (of the body and the ECLSS chamber).

The system worked perfectly and the volunteer emerged, stiff from sitting for so long, but happy and well. Further tests will be carried out once all the data has been evaluated.

Starchaser: THUNDERSTAR Capsule update
chabot imageWork is progressing with the prototype capsule. The primary structural members have been mocked-up in wood and the pressure hull has been formed using glass composites. One of the main projects is the definition of the hatch, in support of this project the prototype capsule has been constructed with a removable hatch section to allow a number of different hatch concepts to be investigated, the current concept features a round hatch.

While the THUNDERSTAR capsule is being designed/engineered using CAD software there is no substitute for a physical mock up when it comes to human interfaces. We need to make sure the crew can enter and exit the capsule in both nominal and emergency conditions. As the capsule evolves the mock-up will be used to help layout instrumentation and controls.

The mock-up will also be used to test the life support system, as it’s a true representation of the THUNDERSTAR capsule in terms of volume and the available space for equipment and the oxygen supply.

SpaceShipOne Updates
chabot imageArticles:
- csmonitor.com: Tax Breaks for Private Spaceships
On June 21, outer space may no longer be a frontier only for wealthy governments
For the first time, a private piloted craft will try to reach the black edge of space, rocketing upward 62 miles in a historymaking suborbital flight.
The timing is perfect. This week, a White House commission recommended NASA's missions be supplemented by private entities, which could be supported by such incentives as tax breaks.
The huge costs and risks of space travel aren't for the faint of wallet. In fact, next week's flight, by a craft called SpaceShipOne, is backed by Paul Allen, the billionaire cofounder of Microsoft. The flight is one of many planned by groups vying for a $10 million private prize set up in 1996 to reward the first private space flight.
- BBC.co.uk: Burt Rutan: Aviation pioneer
For more than 20 years, American businessman Burt Rutan has been behind some of the oddest and most innovative planes around.
In the US, he is considered by some experts to be a national treasure, one of the few creative pioneers who has made a real difference to aerospace advancement.
When the US government wanted to test a fairly high-risk engine concept recently, Rutan wanted to be the test pilot.
He was only prevented from doing so because the government did not want to run the risk of losing him. That is how much of a precious commodity he is considered to be.
It is his company - Scaled Composites - that is responsible for SpaceShipOne, the Ansari X-prize contender.
This vehicle has been closer to space than any non-governmental manned craft, and is hot favourite to win the prize this year.
- billingsgazette.com: U.S. tycoon will test rocket for future of space tourism
SEATTLE, Wash. - Billion-aire Paul Allen says he "sure wouldn't mind" taking a ride someday in the spaceship he paid to have built in the California desert.
"But you have to understand, you have test pilots flying this thing right now," the co-founder of Microsoft said. "You want to prove out these things and use it many times before you'd want to have passengers on board."
Space tourism "is around the corner, but it's not here yet," Allen, 51, said in a rare interview.
On Monday, Allen's rocket ship, called SpaceShipOne, is expected to try to reach suborbital space. If successful, it would be the first private, manned spaceship to leave the earth's atmosphere.

(via hobbyspace.com)SS1 flight memorabilia could become a top collectable for space enthusiasts according to Robert Pearlman of collectSpace. He tells Alan Boyle - Space race update - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - June.16.04
"The appeal of philatelic material or other collectibles (mini SS1 models, medallions, patches, etc.), not to mention any piece of the actual craft that is expendable/replaceable, will be of interest to space collectors..."

- Scaled has moved the info on live coverage to the Q&A section. (if you haven't noticed yet, there is a new webdesign on their site)

SpaceShipOne preping for space
chabot image(via hobbyspace.com)Via a Mojavian comes this local report on preparations for the SS1 flight event next Monday:
- "Organizers are preparing for 30,000 visitors"
- "On the day of the flight's announcement, the Scaled Composites Web site received millions of queries"
- "Hotels in Mojave are already booked solid, with rooms filling up in more distant communities such as Lancaster."
- "A camping area has been cleared to park 250 self-contained recreational vehicles, with campers allowed to enter the grounds beginning Saturday night. Reservations are required for these $40 spots, and they are filling fast. As of Tuesday afternoon, 160 spots remained."
- "Already, "space groupies" have requested permission for a concert in the camping area Sunday night, adding to the festival-like atmosphere."
- "Ridgecrest radio station KLOA 104.9 FM will provide a play-by-play broadcast of the flight and traffic reports for those heading to the airport."
- "For those unable to attend, the flight will be covered live by numerous broadcasters, including CNN and the national networks. Some 400 different media outlets from around the world are expected to cover the event, Rice said." Read More (short-lived link)

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