SpaceShipOne Flight This Morning

By Deane Barker on October 4, 2004

Just a reminder that SpaceShipOne lifts off from Mohave Spaceport at 10 a.m. EST this morning. It hasn’t been decided if the craziest senior citizen in history, Mike Melvill, will pilot this time. (However, he’s done the last two, so I really can’t imagine them putting someone with no experience in the cockpit on this flight.)

If they make it to space and back down safely, they’ll win the $10 million X-Prize. I imagine we’ll know no later than 11:30 EST.



  1. Just reading that SpaceShipOne is in the air as of 9:52 EST. Brian Binnie is the pilot this time around. There’s some speculation that the vehicle designer — Burt Rutan — might be a passenger on this flight.

  2. I would doubt that Rutan is a passenger, since the back seats were filled mostly with monitoring equipment on last week’s flight. They didn’t even have seat belts back there in the June launch, but they could have been installed since then.

    The previously mentioned Discovery Channel documentary was on last night, and it was so good that I watched it twice. If you thought Melvill was a bad-*ss before, you haven’t heard the half of it.

    It’s also pretty scary to realize that SS1 doesn’t seem to have ever had a powered flight where something didn’t go wrong. On one of the early rocket motor tests, vibration knocked out the cockpit instrumentation, which the pilot relies on in order to maintain his trajectory. Rather than shut down the motor, Melvill flew nearly the entire burn with a side window view of the horizon and a ping-pong ball on a string that was taped above the instrument panel. Now that’s the Right Stuff!

  3. Altitude was just announced as 368,000 feet — 60,000 feet over the requirement. Assuming they land safely, Mr. Ansari will be writing a check for $10 million.

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