Feeds

SpaceShipOne triumphs

Space tourism, here we come?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

SpaceShipOne yesterday became the first privately-built and manned vehicle to reach the lower limits of space.

The craft - the brainchild of aviation pioneer Burt Rutan and funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen - carried pilot Mike Melvill beyond the 100km (62 mile) official boundary and returned safely to its base at California's Mojave airport.

SpaceShipOne completed the first 14km (46,000ft) strapped to its White Knight launcher, after which it went solo with an 80-second rocket motor burn. The entire mission lasted 90 minutes.

Melvill's euphoria upon landing was evident. He had undergone a period of weightlessness during which - he told the assembled press and public - he had released a packet of M&M chocolate sweets into the cabin. TV news footage showed Paul Allen looking slightly less than impressed with this admission.

Nevertheless, the flight is a triumph for Rutan and Melvill's Scaled Composites, the firm behind the design. Although Rutan acknowledged one or two glitches during the flight - including buckling of part of the vehicle's structure covering the rocket nozzle and a missed re-entry point - he said that the team would now consider whether to go for the Ansari X-Prize.

To claim the booty for the first private space flight, SpaceShipOne must reach 100km twice in two weeks. The prize was conceived to kick-start private space initiatives and space tourism in particular.

And as for Mike Melvill, he described the experience as "mind-blowing... Absolutely an awesome thing." He rather sensibly added that he would "back off a little bit now and ride my bike". ®

Related sites

Scaled Composites
Ansari X-Prize

Related stories

SpaceShipOne ready for go
SpaceShipOne readied for 21 June launch
US edges closer to private space flight
FAA greenlights private spaceship

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
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?