Feeds

SpaceShipOne readied for 21 June launch

X-Prize awaits at 62 miles

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

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

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
BAT-GOBBLING urban SPIDER QUEENS swell to ENORMOUS SIZE
But they'd lose a deathmatch against the coming Humvee-sized, armoured Arctic ones
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
TRANSMUTATION claims US LENR company
Ten points of stuff out of a five pound bag
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?