Encyclopedia Astronautica
2003.09.23 - White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 37L / 06G

Objectives: Third glide flight of SpaceShipOne. Aft CG flying qualities and performance evaluation of the space ship in both the glide and re-entry or "feather" mode. Glide envelope expansion to 95% airspeed, 100% alpha and beta and 70% loadfactor. More aggressive post stall maneuvering and spin control as a glider and while feathered. Nitrous temperature control during climb to altitude and performance of upgraded landing gear extension mechanism and space-worthy gear doors.

Results: Launch conditions were 46,800 feet and 115 knots and produced a clean separation. First stall entry maneuver resulted in an un-commanded nose rise before reaching the wing stall angle of attack. Lateral/directional controls were used in conjunction with forward stick to effect recovery. This aft-cg stall characteristic was worse than predicted and will likely require aero modifications to fix. The feather entry was not explored and the rest of the glide flight used to assess the handling qualities of the vehicle leading to an uneventful landing. The White Knight's heating system was able to keep the Spaceship's nitrous oxidizer conditioned during climb, such that the maximum N2O pressure variation was less than 6 psi.

Flight Time: 1.5 hours / 12 mins 15 secs White Knight Pilot: Siebold White Knight Copilot: Stinemetz White Knight Flt Engineer: Johnson SpaceShipOne Pilot: Melvill High Chase-Starship Pilot: Karkow Low Chase-Duchess Pilot: Binnie

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