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Rutan completes first leg of X Prize

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by Tennessee Slim, Sep 29, 2004.

  1. Tennessee Slim

    Tennessee Slim Señor Member CLM

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    MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) - The first private manned rocket to reach space soared into the air again Wednesday under the belly of a jet, beginning a quest for a $10 million prize and another spot in the history books.
    The specially designed jet with SpaceShipOne attached took off at 7:12 a.m. from Mohave Airport and began an hour's climb.

    A crowd of VIPs watched from below the airport control tower, while journalists watched from bleachers along the runway. Spectators, some wrapped in blankets to ward off the early morning chills, erupted in cheers as the spacecraft and its chase planes taxied down the runway.

    At 47,000 feet, SpaceShipOne was to be released into a brief glide before pilot Michael Melvill fired its rocket motor and pointed the nose up toward space. After a few minutes of weightlessness, it was designed to fall back into the atmosphere and glide back to the airport.

    SpaceShipOne is trying for the $10 million X Prize, offered to whomever makes two flights 62 miles high, an altitude generally accepted as being in space, in two weeks or less.

    The ship already reached that height during the SpaceShipOne's first flight in June, when history was on the line. Now it's about the money. Melvill also was the pilot in June.

    Among those watching Wednesday's launch was Adam Smith, 14, of Vienna, Va., who said he's had an interest in space "as far back as I can remember." He earned $1,000 this summer toward a down payment to a company called Space Adventures, which is taking reservations for future space travel.

    "It was just one of those things - I want to do this," the 9th-grader said.

    The X Prize rules require that the two flights happen within 14 days. SpaceShipOne's creators ambitiously set the second flight for next Monday - well before the 14-day deadline.

    SpaceShipOne was to fly with a pilot and the equivalent weight of two passengers aboard, in accordance with rules requiring X Prize contenders to be capable of carrying three people.

    Maverick aerospace designer Burt Rutan, with more than $20 million from Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, secretly developed SpaceShipOne and is well ahead of two dozen teams building other X Prize contenders around the world.

    The Ansari X Prize was modeled after the $25,000 prize that Charles Lindbergh won in his Spirit of St. Louis for the first solo New York-to-Paris flight across the Atlantic in 1927.

    The St. Louis-based X Prize Foundation, noting the rapid development of air travel after Lindbergh's feat, hopes to inspire an era of space tourism in which spaceflight is not just the domain of government agencies such as NASA.

    Even before Wednesday's flight, Richard Branson, the airline mogul and adventurer, announced in London on Monday that his Virgin Group plans to offer passenger flight into space aboard rockets based on SpaceShipOne by 2007.

    Branson believes he will fly some 3,000 people into space in the first five years that his "Virgin Galactic" space line is operating.

    ---

    On the Net:

    X Prize: http://www.xprize.org

    AP-ES-09-29-04 1041EDT


    Online story here.
     
  2. CaptainOveur

    CaptainOveur

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    Yes, but Rutan's "planes" are still ugly :D

    I'd really like to see some of the other contestants take off, they are so different that it would be interesting to see if more peole could do it...
     

  3. Tennessee Slim

    Tennessee Slim Señor Member CLM

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    Well, Marilyn Monroe was gardgis but she didn’t fly worth a damn.
     
  4. Texas T

    Texas T TX expatriate CLM

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    Sounds like a kid we're going to read about in years to come... possibly one of the first astronauts heading for Mars.

    :)