Feeds

SpaceShipOne readied for 21 June launch

X-Prize awaits at 62 miles

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Later this month, Paul 'Microsoft' Allen's SpaceShipOne will blast off for space. The launch is scheduled for 21 June, and if everything goes well, Allen will snag a place in history as the man behind the first private space craft ever to leave the atmosphere.

Michael Nank, a spokesman for Allen's investment company, Vulcan, told the Seattle Times: "[This] shows that at relatively little cost, we can spur commercial space technology. It's always previously been done by governmental agencies."

The vehicle has a great pedigree: it has been built by Burt Rutan's company Scaled Composites. Rutan established his reputation by building a privately funded plane capable of circumnavigating the globe without refueling. He is also the team leader on this project.

SpaceShipOne, a three seater ship, will be lifted to about 50,000ft by carrier jet. Once it is dropped off, a rocket motor will fire for about 80 seconds, accelerating the vehicle to Mach 3 in a vertical climb. This should be enough to get the ship to an altitude of 62 miles before it falls back to Earth. In May this year, the craft reached an altitude of 40 miles.

The ship will not go fast enough to get into orbit, but the pilot will be weightless for three minutes, and should be surrounded by the blackness of space. To completely escape the Earth's gravitational pull, a vehicle needs to reach 25,000mph, and to get into orbit it needs to reach 17,500mph.

The pilot will be able to reconfigure the ship so that as it passes through the atmosphere its tails fold up like a shuttlecock, and then back to a normal glider shape for descent and landing.

Allen and Rutan are among several contenders for the $10m Ansari X-prize. This is a competition in which the winning craft must take three people into sub-orbital space twice within a two-week period. Vulcan would not say how much had been invested in the project, but the costs are likely to have run into the millions. ®

Related sites

Scaled Composites
Ansari X-prize

Related stories

US edges closer to private space flight
FAA greenlights private spaceship
Europe space shuttle passes first test
Russians punt $40m space honeymoon

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
Moment of truth for LOHAN's servos: Our US allies are poised for final test flight
Will Vulture 2 freeze at altitude? Edge Research Lab to find out
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.