SpaceShipOne is a manned suborbital spacecraft designed by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites to win the X-Prize. It is a unique configuration, air launched from the White Knight high altitude carrier aircraft. Powered by a HTBD-Nitrous-Oxide hybrid rocket designed by SpaceDev, the three-seated SpaceShipOne will climb to a height of 100 km. For reentry, the twin tails will be folded upwards for a stablized belly-first reentry. Finally, for landing the tails will return to a conventional position to allow a runway landing. The pilot and the two passengers will be placed in a pressurised cabin, so no space suit will be needed.
SpaceShipOne is classified as an experimental vehicle and will not offer commercially available seats for space tourists. But if the flights are successful, a larger version might be built for space tourism. Virgin Galaxy, a company founded by Richard Branson, plans to purchase 5 improved SpaceShipTwo versions for 6 passengers to conduct tourist spaceflights.
The first unpowered free flight occured on 08.08.2003. On its first powered flight it reached supersonic speed, on the second it reached Mach 2+. SS1 is the first privately developed aircraft to reach supersonic speed.
SS1 wrote history, when the first private suborbital spaceflight was conducted on June 21, 2004 (with pilot Mike Melvill). This flight reached a height of 100 km. During the flight, the spacecraft suffered a control problem, but recovered on the back-up system. Further flights will occur, when the problem is solved.
SS1 won the X-Prize with flights on 29.09.2004 and a follow up flight on 04.10.2004. For the X-prize attempts, only a pilot and ballast representing two passengers were on board.
The SS1 experienced a heavy roll during boost during the first X-Prize flight
No.TypNo Type Fl.No Date LS Aircraft Payload
1 1 SpaceShipOne 11P 17.12.2003 Mo * White Knight SpaceShipOne F1 Mach 1.2; 20.7 Km 2 2 SpaceShipOne 13P 08.04.2004 Mo * White Knight SpaceShipOne F2 Mach 1.6; 32.0 km 3 3 SpaceShipOne 14P 13.05.2004 Mo * White Knight SpaceShipOne F3 Mach 2.5; 64.4 km 4 4 SpaceShipOne 15P 21.06.2004 Mo * White Knight SpaceShipOne F4 Mach 2.9; 100.1 km 5 5 SpaceShipOne 16P 29.09.2004 Mo * White Knight SpaceShipOne F5 Mach 2.9; 102.9 km; X-Prize attempt 6 6 SpaceShipOne 17P 04.10.2004 Mo * White Knight SpaceShipOne F6 Mach 3.1; 111.9 km; X-Prize attempt Only powered flights listed. Problems: Flight 1: Left landing gear retracted on touch down, craft slightly damaged. Flight 4: Control system problem, reentry out of planned corridor, engine shroud slightly damaged Launch sites: Mo = Mojave Air and Space Port, Mojave, California, USA