Space Ship One

Space Ship One

SpaceShipOne was a suborbital air-launched spaceplane that completed the first manned private spaceflight in 2004. That same year, it won the US$10 million Ansari X Prize and was immediately retired from active service. Its mothership was named “White Knight”. Both craft were developed and flown by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, which was a joint venture between Paul Allen and Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan‘s aviation company. Allen provided the funding of approximately US $25 million.

Rutan has indicated that ideas about the project began as early as 1994 and the full-time development cycle time to the 2004 accomplishments was about three years. The vehicle first achieved supersonic flight on December 17, 2003, which was also the one-hundredth anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ historic first powered flight. SpaceShipOne’s first official spaceflight, known as flight 15P, was piloted by Mike Melvill. A few days before that flight, the Mojave Air and Space Port was licensed as the USA’s first commercial spaceport. A few hours after that flight, Melvill became the first licensed U.S. commercial astronaut. The overall project name was “Tier One” which has evolved into Tier 1b with a goal of taking a successor ship’s first passengers into space within the next few years.

General characteristics

Crew: one, pilot
Capacity: 2 passengers
Length: 16 ft 5 in (8,05 m)
Wingspan: 16 ft 5 in (8,05 m)
Height: ()
Wing area: 161.4 ft² (15 m²)
Empty weight: 2,640 lb (1,200 kg)
Loaded weight: 7,920 lb (3,600 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × N2O/HTPB SpaceDev Hybrid rocket motor, 7,500 kgf (74 kN)
Isp: 250 s (2450 Ns/kg)
Burn time: 87 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.6

Maximum speed: Mach 3.09 (2,170 mph, 3,518 km/h)
Range: 35 nm (40 mi, 65 km)
Service ceiling: 367,360 ft (112,000 m)
Rate of climb: 82,000 ft/min (416.6 m/s)
Wing loading: 49.07 lb/ft² (240 kg/m²)
Thrust/weight: 2.08


Updated: October 4, 2011 — 2:06 PM
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