Encyclopedia Astronautica
Tier One



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SpaceShipOne
American winged rocketplane. Burt Rutan's Tier One was the second manned reusable suborbital launch system (after the B-52/X-15). But it was developed privately at a small fraction of the cost.

Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites, Mojave, California, started conceptual design of the Tier One space launch system in 1997. Some of the concepts for the Tier One launch aircraft were worked out in Rutan's Proteus high-altitude, multi-mission aircraft which first flew on 26 July 1998. Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen signed a contract, estimated at $20 to $30 million, for full development of the Tier One in April 2001. Aerodynamic design was done entirely using CFD (computational fluid dynamics) software - no wind tunnel testing was conducted. Development included thermal tests of the ablative re-entry coating, heat-resistant portholes, and subscale drop tests of re-entry configurations.

The immediate objective of Tier One was to win the $10 million X-Prize, by being the first to fly a privately-developed, reusable spacecraft over 100 km. While Rutan estimated that the cost per flight of Tier One would be about $80,000, there were no plans to develop a commercial, paying-passenger version of the experimental aircraft. Rutan was unwilling to deal with the government red tape for that. The main concern was to show that the X-Prize objective of private spaceflight could be achieved, safely and economically, using innovative aerodynamic and propulsion concepts.

Tier One vehicle consisted of two stages: the White Knight carrier-launch aircraft, and the SpaceShipOne (SS1) spaceplane. In the vehicle's baseline mission, the White Knight would carry SpaceShipOne suspended beneath to a point 65 km from Rutan's Mojave Airport base, then release it at 15 km altitude at 215 kph. SpaceShipOne would fire its rocket engine and go into an 84 degree climb. After a 65 to 80 second burn, the engine would shut down, and the spacecraft continue on a ballistic ascent to 110 km altitude. This would be followed by re-entry into the atmosphere, and a glide landing back at Mojave Airport.

The White Knight was a manned, twin-turbojet research aircraft intended for high-altitude missions. The White Knight's cockpit, avionics, electronic control system, pneumatics, trim servos, data system, and electrical system components were identical to those installed on SpaceShipOne. Therefore test flights of the White Knight served to flight-qualify all of the spacecraft's systems, except rocket propulsion. The White Knight's high thrust-to-weight ratio and enormous speedbrakes allowed the pilots to simulate realistically SpaceShipOne flight manoeuvres of boost, approach and landing. The aircraft therefore served both as a launch aircraft and a high-fidelity trainer for SpaceShipOne pilots.

SpaceShipOne was a three-place, high-altitude research rocketplane, designed for sub-orbital flights to 100 km altitude. The tail number N328KF (328,000 kilofeet) was selected after it was discovered N100KM was already taken. The unique configuration allowed aircraft-like qualities for boost, glide, and landing. Rutan wanted to avoid the use of fly-by-wire stability augmentation systems normally required to handle the instability inherent in transonic aircraft. He originally planned to use petal-like drag brakes, to be followed by a vertical parachute recovery. But finally he decided to use pneumatic actuators to pop-up the wing and tail boom in a 'shuttlecock' configuration. This provided for a stable high-drag re-entry, which required no control inputs from the pilot. After the aircraft had slowed to 160 kph, the wings and tail would return to their normal position, and the pilot would fly the aircraft in a 185 kph glide in descending circles to the airfield.

Roll and pitch were controlled by elevons on the twin tail booms. Linked upper rudders moved outward only for drag, and electrically powered lower rudders provided trim. All controls were manual. The rocketplane's fuselage was a monocoque structure with the skin made of carbon/epoxy composite with a Nomex core. Aft of the horizontal stabilizer, where the heating was less, fibreglass was used as a radio-transparent skin material. The wings were also used carbon/epoxy skins, built up over structural ribs. High-temperature areas added phenolic resin to the mix. The leading edge of the wings and the belly of the rocketplane used a red ablative material, which would be reapplied before each mission.

Designed for a 'shirt- sleeve' environment, the 1.52 m diameter cabin was outfitted with nine twin-pane viewports for outstanding visibility. The crew was not equipped with spacesuits; gas bottles served to keep the cabin pressure at 1800 m equivalent regardless of loss of hull integrity. The aircraft was naturally stable, and used all manual controls. These included aerodynamic controls in the atmosphere and a cold-gas reaction control system in space. The same gas bottles provided for cabin pressurisation, the reaction control system, and pneumatic operation of the actuators that feathered the empennage for re-entry and released the landing gear for landing.

Propulsion was by a SpaceDev hybrid rocket engine, selected after competitive testing against an eEC design. The enormous liquid nitrous oxide tank dominated the fuselage interior. The HTPB fuel burned in the presence of the nitrous oxide to produce a chamber pressure of 37 atm, expanded through a 25:1 nozzle. Thrust loads were transmitted from the fuel casing, through the nitrous oxide tank, and then to the spacecraft through rubber that bonded the tank to the fuselage.

Liquid nitrous oxide (N2O / dinitrogen monoxide / 'laughing gas') was the oxidiser of choice for the Tier One application because it was storable, and self-pressurising to 48 atmospheres at 17 deg C. The combination of HTPB solid fuel and N2O was totally benign and non-toxic. It was difficult to find a rocket motor safer than one using rubber/plastic and laughing gas. It was non-explosive. The fuel had to be vaporized in the presence of an atomised oxidiser with a high temperature igniter in order for it to burn. Even in failure mode, it was safe. Flow oxidiser without vaporised fuel and nothing would happen. Vaporise fuel without oxidiser and nothing would happen. Ignition only occurred when fuel was vaporised in the presence of an atomised oxidiser with a high temperature igniter. The engine could be shut down at any time by cutting off the flow of oxidiser.

All technical data were considered confidential and the data presented here are estimated.

Payload: 400 kg (880 lb) to a 110 km altitude. Success Rate: 100.00%. Launch data is: complete. Development Cost $: 30.000 million. Launch Price $: 0.080 million in 2004 dollars in 2004 dollars. Boost Propulsion: Lox/Kerosene. Cruise Thrust: 73.500 kN (16,523 lbf). Cruise Thrust: 7,500 kgf. Cruise engine: SpaceDev Hybrid. Maximum speed: 5,300 kph (3,200 mph). Minimum range: 65 km (40 mi). Initial Operational Capability: 2004. Total Number Built: 1.

Stage Data - Tier One

  • Stage 0. 1 x White Knight. Gross Mass: 4,100 kg (9,000 lb). Empty Mass: 1,200 kg (2,600 lb). Thrust (vac): 34.300 kN (7,711 lbf). Isp: 2,000 sec. Diameter: 1.52 m (4.98 ft). Propellants: Air/Kerosene. No Engines: 2. Engine: J85-GE-5. Status: In production. Comments: Carries SpaceShipOne to release point 65 km from Mohave Airport base, then releases it at 15 km altitude at 215 kph. Wing area 43.5 sq m.
  • Stage 1. 1 x SpaceShipOne. Gross Mass: 3,600 kg (7,900 lb). Empty Mass: 1,200 kg (2,600 lb). Thrust (vac): 73.500 kN (16,523 lbf). Isp: 250 sec. Burn time: 80 sec. Diameter: 1.52 m (4.98 ft). Span: 5.00 m (16.40 ft). Propellants: N2O/Solid. No Engines: 1. Engine: SpaceDev Hybrid. Status: In production. Comments: Wing area 15 sq m.

Location: Mojave, California.
Status: Retired 2004.
Gross mass: 7,700 kg (16,900 lb).
Payload: 400 kg (880 lb).
Height: 5.00 m (16.40 ft).
Diameter: 1.52 m (4.98 ft).
Span: 15.00 m (49.00 ft).
Apogee: 110 km (60 mi).
First Launch: 2003.05.20.
Last Launch: 2004.10.04.
Number: 17 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • SpaceShipOne American manned spaceplane. 14 launches, 2003.05.20 to 2004.05.13 . X-Prize suborbital spaceplane concept of Scaled Composites, Mojave, California. More...

Associated Engines
  • J85-GE-5 GE turbojet engine. 34.3 kN. Carries SpaceShipOne to release point 65 km from Mohave Airport base, then releases it at 15 km altitude at 215 kph. Wing area 43.5 sq m. Isp=2000s. More...
  • SpaceDev Hybrid SpaceDev N2O/Solid hybrid rocket engine. 73.5 kN. Rocketplane boost. Out of production. Isp=250s. Used on Tier One launch vehicle. First flight 2002. More...

See also
  • Winged In the beginning, nobody (except Jules Verne) thought anybody would be travelling to space and back in ballistic cannon balls. The only proper way for a space voyager to return to earth was at the controls of a real winged airplane. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Scaled American manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Scaled Composites, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • X-Prize The X-Prize competition was an attempt to promote commercial civilian spaceflight in a manner similar to the prizes handed out in the early days of aviation. Ten million dollars was to go to the first team to fly a vehicle capable of launching three people into space (defined as an altitude of 100 km in a suborbital trajectory), twice in a two-week period. The vehicle had to be 90% reusable by dry mass. For purposes of the two flights, the competition accepted flight by one person and ballast equivalent to two others at 90 kg per passenger. The flights had to be completed before the end of 2005. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Collins, Michael, Carrying the Fire, Ballantine Books, New York, 1975.
  • Scaled Composites Web Site, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Dornheim, Michael A, "Affordable Spaceship / Burt Rutan's Quest for Space", Aviation Week and Space Technology, Aviation Week and Space Technology, April 21, 2003..

Associated Launch Sites
  • Mojave Location of Scaled Composites flight test facility, and the first FAA-certified inland spaceport. It was used for 17 launches of the Tier One manned spaceplane from 2003 to 2004, reaching up to 112 kilometers altitude. More...

Associated Stages
  • SpaceShipOne N2O/Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 3,600/1,200 kg. Thrust 73.50 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 250 seconds. Wing area 15 sq m. More...
  • White Knight Subsonic rocket launch aircraft. Loaded/empty mass 4,100/1,200 kg. Thrust 34.30 kN. Specific impulse 2000 seconds. Carries SpaceShipOne to release point 65 km from Mohave Airport base, then releases it at 15 km altitude at 215 kph. Wing area 43.5 sq m. More...

Tier One Chronology


2002 August 1 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 1 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Siebold; Shane. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 0.2 hours Pilot: Shane Copilot: Siebold. Objectives: First flight. Handling qualities assessment and basic performance evaluation. Systems evaluation. Cabin un-pressurized. Results: Un-commanded hammering auxiliary spoiler deployments after takeoff. Flight aborted to downwind for an uneventful landing. No apparent flying qualities issues noted. Auxiliary spoilers were disabled for future flights.

2002 August 5 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 2 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Siebold; Shane. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 1.5 hours Pilot: Shane Copilot: Siebold. Objectives: First flight test card repeat. Flying qualities assessment and basic performance evaluation. Avionics and pneumatic systems evaluation. Cabin un-pressurized. Results: Envelope expansion to 15,000 feet and 140 knots. Overall satisfactory stability, good control harmony and impressive performance. Heavy airframe buffet at high speeds with both sets of speed brakes deployed. "Best airplane the company has ever built"

2002 August 19 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 3 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Melvill; Shane. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.8 hours Pilot: Melvill Copilot: Shane. Objectives: New pilot qual eval. Envelope expansion out to 25,000 feet and 150 knots. First flight with the cabin pressurized for environmental control system tests . Results: Satisfactory handling and performance. Buffet barriers determined for inboard and outboard speed brakes. Significant window fogging experienced after cold soak at altitude.

2002 August 27 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 4 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Siebold; Shane. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.5 hours Pilot: Siebold Copilot: Shane. Objectives: New pilot qual eval. Envelope expansion out to 35,000 feet and 150 knots / 0.4M and 3 G's. Engine relight performance. Avionics software upgrade. Results: Experienced a rudder dead-band (poor centering) at the higher altitudes. Dihedral effect is neutral at higher speeds. Window fogging on descent. Numerous flight director attitude display resets.

2002 September 6 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 5 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Shane. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.0 hours Pilot: Binnie Copilot: Shane. Objectives: New pilot qual eval. Envelope expansion out to 45,000 feet and 160 knots / 0.5M. Practice SpaceShipOne glide approaches. Effectiveness of new tail vortex generators and clipped outboard speed brakes. Results: The new VGs eliminated the high-altitude rudder dead-band. Encountered undamped rudder vibration at 25,000 feet and 160 knots during flutter envelope expansion. Engine flameout at 45,000 feet. Un-safe main gear indication for landing (a microswitch adjustment). Clipped otbd speed brake showed no change.

2002 October 9 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 6 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Shane. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 0.9 hours Pilot: Shane Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Evaluate rudder mass balance modifications. Effectiveness of engine bleed air heating of the fuselage aft of the cabin (first test of SpaceShipOne Nitrous heating system). Results: Rudder vibration problem resolved. Flight cut short due to suspected over-temp of aft cabin bulkhead from engine bleed air.

2002 October 10 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 7 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Shane. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 3.0 hours Pilot: Shane Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Completion of Flight 6 objectives. Airspeed and altitude envelope expansion, 45,000 feet / 160 knots / 0.5M Results: No structural damping issues found. Engine operation satisfactory. Some window fogging on descent. Some degradation of pneumatic actuators due to cold soaking. Insufficient dihedral effect at high speed/high altitude.

2002 October 16 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 8 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 1.6 hours Pilot: Melvill Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Envelope expansion above 50,000 feet and 0.55M. Avionics software upgrade. Practice SpaceShipOne glide approaches Results: Climbed to 53,000 feet and 0.53M in Military power. Cleared the full required envelope needed for SpaceShipOne launch operations. Flying qualities at highest altitude are satisfactory and will not require dampers. Window fogging not an issue until the cabin was depressurized at 10,000 feet.

2002 October 17 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 9 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.2 hours Pilot: Binnie Copilot: Siebold. Objectives: Boost phase pilot training. Formation flying and air-to-air photography with the Proteus aircraft. Results: Adequate visibility and satisfactory flying qualities for formation flying. A photo from this flight later appeared on the cover of Aviation Week (21Apr03 issue).

2002 October 17 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 10 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 1.1 hours Pilot: Siebold Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: SpaceshipOne boost profile and steering capture practice. Simulated SS1 glide approaches. Results: SS1 simulation good up to at least ~ 70 degree flight path angle..

2002 October 24 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 14 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Siebold; Shane. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 0.3 hours Pilot: Siebold Copilot: Shane. Objectives: FAA-monitored flight for pilot "Type Rating". Results: Rating issued.

2002 October 24 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 12 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Melvill; Shane. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 0.3 hours Pilot: Melvill Copilot: Shane. Objectives: FAA-monitored flight for pilot "Type Rating". Results: Rating issued.

2002 October 24 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 11 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Melvill; Shane. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 0.3 hours Pilot: Shane Copilot: Melvill. Objectives: FAA-monitored flight for pilot "Type Rating". Results: Rating issued.

2002 October 24 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 13 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 0.3 hours Pilot: Binnie Copilot: Siebold. Objectives: FAA-monitored flight for pilot "Type Rating". Results: Rating issued.

2002 November 6 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 15 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.4 hours Pilot: Siebold Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Continued engine, ECS and avionics evaluation. High-rate nose wheel steering assessment. Results: Difficulty maintaining afterburner on left engine near 50,000 feet. Improved ECS configuration showed improved resistance to fogging. Nose wheel steering gearing change about the same.

2002 November 12 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 16 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.0 hours Pilot: Binnie Copilot: Siebold. Objectives: Continued engine, ECS and avionics evaluation. Simulated wheel brake failure landing rollout. Results: Conclusion: aircraft can be landed at MHV if a wheel brake fails. More engine irregularities at high altitude. Engines removed and sent to test cell for fuel control calibration and adjustments.

2003 February 24 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 17 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.8 hours Pilot: Binnie Copilot: Melvill. Objectives: Evaluate performance of updated engines. Measure effect of new canted wingtips. Test new landing gear doors and upgraded INS hardware. Results: New and different engine irregularities at highest altitudes. Further mods are needed for adequate ECS humidity control. Canted wingtips solved the dihedral effect problem. No flying qualities issues remain.

2003 March 7 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 18 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 3.3 hours Pilot: Melvill Copilot: Cory Bird. Objectives: Revised ECS configuration evaluation. Multiple SFO (simulated flame out) approaches to assess updated flight director steering cues. Results: New ECS configuration results encouraging. Engines returned to depot facility for second overhaul repair.

2003 April 15 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 20 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 0.7 hours Pilot: Melvill Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Repeat airshow maneuver practice Results: Minor tweaks to refine the airshow demonstration maneuvers..

2003 April 15 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 19 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 1.2 hours Pilot: Melvill Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Airshow maneuver practice. First flight with Spaceship launch system installed. Results: Satisfactory airshow results for various wind conditions. Launch system satisfactory..

2003 April 18 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • Tier One roll out / White Knight Flight 21 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Scaled Composites (Mojave, California, USA) rolls out their X-Prize vehicle, consisting of the White Knight carrier aircraft and SpaceShipOne spaceplane. This is followed by a demonstration flight by the White Knight carrier-launch aircraft. Flight Time: 0.2 hours Pilot: Melvill Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Formal media rollout Results: Good show for the VIP/media audience

2003 April 26 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 22 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 0.3 hours Pilot: Melvill Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Airshow for the 'friends and family' unveiling Results: Good show for 1000+ guests. Broadcast media included CNN, ABC, PBS, Tech TV, Discovery & National Geographic TV..

2003 May 2 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 23 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.3 hours Pilot: Melvill Copilot: Rick Aldrich. Objectives: Engine performance at altitude. New pilot masks and ECS airflow routing. Regulated bleed air control of the aft cabin temperature (to test the capability to heat SpaceShipOne's nitrous oxidizer. Appraisal of new traffic alert system. Results: Engines showed much improved performance up to 50,000 feet. ECS changes confirmed to assure clear windows for landing. Successful bleed air heating test: good control and sufficient energy for SS1 propellant heating.

2003 May 20 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 24C / 01C - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Apogee: 14 km (8 mi). Objectives: First captive carry flight with mated White Knight and SpaceShipOne. Vibration and aerodynamic interface assessment. Mated handling qualities evaluation. Envelope expansion to 130 knots / Mach 0.5 above 45,000 feet. Stalls and 2/3-rudder sideslips. SpaceShipOne systems inactive, controls locked and cabin unmanned. Launch system was qualified and functional for this flight. Additional Details: here....

2003 July 3 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 25 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.2 hours Pilot: Binnie Copilot: Siebold. Objectives: First glide flight profile rehearsal / two ship checklist flow / airspace coordination / Command and Control responsibilities and handoffs. Results: Good exercise of all involved parties and agencies including the Edwards air Force Base, Joshua Control and Scaled Composites, Utility Mobile ground station.

2003 July 11 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 26 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.0 hours Pilot: Melvill Copilot: Binnie Flight Engineer: Rutan. Objectives: First glide flight profile rehearsal / two ship checklist flow / airspace coordination / Command and Control responsibilities and handoffs. First flight for Burt in the White Knight. Results: Exercised all current checklists and SpaceShipOne first flight test cards. Simulated emergencies handled successfully. Good exposure for Burt on cockpit workload / crew coordination / cabin environment and human factors for Tier-1 mission. Flew eleven practice SpaceShipOne approaches from above high key, three with simulated failed avionics and some with other emergencies and runway changes. All were successful.

2003 July 11 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 27 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 0.7 hours Pilot: Binnie Copilot: Siebold Flight Engineer: Stinemetze. Objectives: Pilot proficiency. First flight for SpaceShipOne lead engineer. Results: Made several simulated captive carry low sink rate landings as well as practice SpaceshipOne approaches to various runways. Good exposure for Matt Stinemetze on cockpit workload / crew coordination / cabin environment and human factors for Tier-1 mission

2003 July 11 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 28 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 0.5 hours Pilot: Siebold Copilot: Binnie Flight Engineer: Losey. Objectives: Pilot proficiency. First flight for SpaceShipOne crew chief. Results: Made several practice SpaceshipOne approaches using various configurations and runways. Good exposure for SS1 crewchief Steve Losey on cockpit workload / crew coordination / cabin environment and human factors for Tier-1 mission.

2003 July 29 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 29C / 02C - . Crew: Melvill. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Apogee: 14 km (8 mi). Objectives: First manned captive carry flight of SpaceShipOne. A man-in-loop launch rehearsal and inflight checkout of all ship systems including flight controls and propulsion sytem plumbing. Results: Complete full up rehearsal for SS1's first glide flight, including airspace, range control, Scaled mission control, data and video TM and high and low chase platforms. Additional Details: here....

2003 August 7 - . 14:37 GMT - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 30L / 03G - . Crew: Melvill. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Apogee: 14 km (8 mi). Objectives: First glide flight of SpaceShipOne. Results: The space ship was launched at 47,000 feet and 105 knots, 10 nm east of Mojave. Separation was clean and positive with no tendency to roll off or pitch bobble. An initial handling qualities evaluation was very positive, supported close correlation to the vehicle simulator and with that confidence, the first flight test cards were executed as planned. Additional Details: here....

2003 August 27 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 31LC /04GC - . Crew: Melvill. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Siebold; Binnie; Melvill. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Apogee: 14 km (8 mi). Objectives: Second glide flight of SpaceShipOne. Flying qualities and performance in the space ship feather mode. Pilot workload and situational awareness while transitioning and handling qualities assessment when reconfigured. As a glider, deep stall investigation both at high and low altitude and envelope expansion out to 200 kts and 4 G's. Lateral directional characteristics including adverse yaw, roll rate effectiveness and control including aileron roll and full rudder side slips. Results: The flight was aborted about 20 minutes before launch, after a GPS navigation malfunction occurred in the SpaceShip avionics system. The mated pair continued to test other systems including Spaceship fuselage heating, then returned for a mated landing.

    Flight Time: 1.1 hours White Knight Pilot: Binnie Copilot: Bird SpaceShipOne Pilot: Melvill High Chase-Starship Pilot: Siebold Low Chase-Duchess Pilot: Karkow


2003 August 27 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 32L / 05G - . Crew: Melvill. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Siebold; Binnie; Melvill. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Objectives: Same objectives as the aborted flight 31LC/04GC earlier today. Second glide flight of SpaceShipOne. Flying qualities and performance in the space ship re-entry or "feather" mode. Pilot workload and situational awareness while transitioning and handling qualities assessment when reconfigured. As a glider, stall investigation both at high and low altitude and envelope expansion out to 200 kts and 4 G's. More aggressive, lateral directional characteristics including adverse yaw, roll rate effectiveness and control, including 360 degree aileron roll, and full rudder side slips. Additional Details: here....

2003 September 11 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 33 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.7 hours. White Knight Pilot: Melvill. White Knight Copilot: Binnie White Knight Flt Engineer: Tighe. Objectives: SpaceShipOne approach and landing profile review Results: Evaluated a variety of different profiles to assess ease of set-up, forgiveness to off normal starts and pilot SA during the approach.

2003 September 18 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 34 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.7 hours. White Knight Pilot: Binnie. White Knight Copilot: Melvill White Knight Flt Engineer: Alsbury. Objectives: SpaceShipOne approach and landing profile review Results: Evaluated a variety of different profiles to assess ease of set-up, forgiveness to off normal starts and pilot SA during the approach.

2003 September 19 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 35 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 2.1 hours. White Knight Pilot: Siebold. White Knight Copilot: Binnie White Knight Flt Engineer: Nichols. Objectives: SpaceShipOne approach and landing profile review Results: Evaluated a variety of different profiles to assess ease of set-up, forgiveness to off normal starts and pilot situation awareness during the approach.

2003 September 23 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 37L / 06G - . Crew: Melvill. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Siebold; Binnie; Melvill. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Apogee: 14 km (8 mi). 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. Additional Details: here....

2003 October 17 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 38L/07G - . Crew: Melvill. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Siebold; Binnie; Melvill. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Objectives: Fourth glide flight of SpaceShipOne. Primary purpose was to examine the effects of horizontal tail modifications at both forward and mid-range CG locations (obtained by dumping water from an aft ballast tank between test points). The tail modifications included a fixed strake bonded to the tail boom in front of the stabilator and a span-wise flow fence mounted on the leading edge of each stab at mid-span. Additional Details: here....

2003 November 5 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 39 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Flight Time: 1.5 hours. White Knight Pilot: Siebold. White Knight Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Avionics upgrade evaluation and landing pattern practice. Results: Satisfactory GPS-aided INS stability and position keeping through a normal launch and glide flight profile. Flight 36

2003 November 14 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 40L/08G - . Crew: Siebold. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Melvill; Binnie; Siebold. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Objectives: The fifth glide flight of SpaceShipOne. New pilot checkout flight. Stability and control testing with the new extended horizontal tails. Tests included stall performance at aft limit CG and evaluation of the increased pitch and roll control authority. Other objectives included additional testing of the motor controller (MCS) and handling qualities in feathered flight. Results: Launch conditions were 47,300 feet and 115 knots. Satisfactory stability and control at aft limit CG. A notable improvement in control power, particularly in roll. Handling qualities into and out of feather remained excellent with good nose pointing ability. Adjusted landing pattern altitudes resulted in a touchdown at the targeted runway aim-point.

    Flight Time: 1.4 hours / 19 mins 55 secs White Knight Pilot: Binnie White Knight Copilot: Stinemetze White Knight Flt Engineer: SpaceShipOne Pilot: Siebold High Chase-Starship Pilot: Karkow Low Chase-Duchess Pilot: Melvill/ Coleman


2003 November 19 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 41L/09G - . Crew: Melvill. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Siebold; Binnie; Melvill. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Objectives: The sixth glide flight of SpaceShipOne. Test pilot Mike Melvill's first flight with the enlarged tails. Emergency aft CG handling qualities eval and simulated landing exercise with the new tail configuration. Airspeed and G envelop expansion and dynamic feather evaluation. Additional Details: here....

2003 December 4 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 42L / 10g - . Crew: Binnie. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Melvill; Siebold; Binnie. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Objectives: The seventh glide flight of SpaceShipOne and new pilot check out. Full functional check of the propulsion system by cold flowing nitrous oxide. Completed airspeed and positive and negative G-envelope expansion. Results: Launch conditions were 48,400 feet and 115 knots. All propulsion components, displays and functionality performed as designed. The feather was extended after a 4G pull-up to the vertical at 24,500 feet and rudder used to induce sideslip and yaw rates while "going-over-the-top". The vehicle recovered to a stable attitude and descent after only a single oscillation. The landing pattern was flown following established procedures resulting in a satisfactory touchdown.

    Flight Time: 1.3 hours / 13 mins 14 secs White Knight Pilot: Siebold White Knight Copilot: Stinemetz White Knight Flt Engineer: SpaceShipOne Pilot: Binnie High Chase-Starship Pilot: Karkow Low Chase-Extra Pilot: Melvill / Coleman


2003 December 17 - . 16:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • SpaceShipOne powered flight 1 - . Crew: Binnie. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Melvill; Siebold; Binnie. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Duration: 0.0126 days. Apogee: 21 km (13 mi). White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 43L / 11P. Eighth flight of SpaceShipOne and first powered flight. 15 second burn of the rocket motor and supersonic flight. Motor light off at altitude and inflight engine performance. Vehicle handling qualities through transonics and feather performance from altitude. Launch conditions were 14.6 km and 207 kph. Motor light off was achieved at 13.5 km and 0.55M. Burnout occurred at 1.2M and apogee was 20.7 km. There was no noted flight control flutter or buzz during the climb. Feather recovery exhibited a +/-30 roll initially and then settled down into the familiar falling bathtub mode. The wing was de-feathered and locked by 10.6 km. A nominal landing pattern was flown but touchdown caused the left main gear to collapse and the vehicle rolled to a stop off the runway in the soft sand. Although the damage was not major, repairs were expected to take approximately three weeks to complete.

2004 February 18 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 45 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 1.6 Hours. White Knight Pilot: Siebold. White Knight Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Pilot proficiency, new software build checkout and landing practice.

2004 February 18 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 44 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 1.7 Hours. White Knight Pilot: Melvill. White Knight Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Pilot proficiency, new software build checkout and landing practice.

2004 February 18 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 46 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 0.7 Hours. White Knight Pilot: Binnie. White Knight Copilot: Melvill. Objectives: Pilot proficiency, new software build checkout and landing practice.

2004 March 4 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 47 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 1.3 Hours. White Knight Pilot: Binnie. White Knight Copilot: Bird. Objectives: SpaceShipOne flight 12G launch release rehearsal and avionics software evaluation.

2004 March 8 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 48 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 1.4 Hours. White Knight Pilot: Binnie. White Knight Copilot: Stinemetz. Objectives: SpaceShipOne flight 12G launch release rehearsal and avionics software evaluation.

2004 March 11 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 49L / 12G - . Crew: Siebold. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill; Siebold. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Apogee: 14 km (8 mi). Objectives: The twelfth flight of SpaceShipOne. Objectives included: pilot proficiency, reaction control system functionality check and stability and control and performance of the vehicle with the airframe thermal protection system installed. This was an unpowered glide test. Results: Launch conditions were 48,500 feet and 125 knots. All systems performed as expected and the vehicle landed successfully while demonstrating the maximum cross wind landing capability.

    Flight Time: 1.3 hours / 18 mins 30 secs White Knight Pilot: Binnie White Knight Copilot: Stinemetze White Knight Flt Engineer: SpaceShipOne Pilot: Siebold High Chase-Starship Pilot: Karkow Low Chase-Extra Pilot: Melvill / Coleman


2004 March 30 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 50 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 2.0 Hours. White Knight Pilot: Melvill. White Knight Copilot: Binnie. Objectives: Avionics software evaluation, launch release rehearsal and landing pattern practice..

2004 March 31 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 51 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 2.0 Hours. White Knight Pilot: Binnie. White Knight Copilot: Melvill. Objectives: SpaceShipOne Flight 13P launch rehearsal, avionics checkout and landing practice.

2004 April 5 - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • White Knight Flight 52 - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Siebold. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Summary: Flight Time: 2.0 hours. White Knight Pilot: Siebold. White Knight Copilot: Karkow. Objectives: Avionics checkout flight, pilot proficiency and landing practice..

2004 April 8 - . 15:11 GMT - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • SpaceShipOne Flight 13P - . Crew: Siebold. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Melvill; Siebold. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Duration: 0.0114 days. Apogee: 32 km (19 mi). White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 53L / 13P. 40 second motor burn time. Handling qualities during boost, through transonic and supersonic. Reaction control system functionality in-flight and feather configuration stability during transonic re-entry. Evaluation of radar tracking capability. Launch conditions were 13.96 km and 230 kph. A planned immediate motor ignition was delayed about 2 minutes to evaluate a shock induced stall buffet resulting in an ignition altitude of only 11.7 km. The 40 second rocket boost was smooth with good control. Pilot commented that the motor was surprisingly quiet; however the boost was heard by ground observers. Burnout occurred at 1.6M and apogee was over 32 km. There was no noted flight control flutter or buzz during the climb. Feather recovery was nominal. Maximum feathered speed on entry was 0.9 Mach. The wing was de-feathered and locked by 12 km. Handling quality assessments during descent were satisfactory and a smooth landing made to runway 30 at Mojave. All video and tracking systems performed well with spectacular footage obtained onboard, from chase and from ground stations.

2004 May 13 - . 15:31 GMT - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One.
  • SpaceShipOne Flight 14P - . Crew: Melvill. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Binnie; Siebold; Melvill. Agency: Scaled. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: SpaceShipOne. Duration: 0.0144 days. Apogee: 65 km (40 mi). White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 56L / 14P. 55 second motor burn time. Handling qualities during boost and performance verification. Reaction control system use for reorientation to entry attitude. Supersonic feather stability and control. Launch conditions were 14 km and 220 kph. Motor light off occurred 10 seconds after release and the vehicle boosted smoothly to 46 km and Mach 2.5. Subsequent coast to apogee of 64.5 km. During a portion of the boost, the flight director display was inoperative, however the pilot continued the planned trajectory referencing the external horizon. Reaction control authority was as predicted and the vehicle recovered in feather experiencing 1.9M and 3.5Gs. Feather oscillations were actively damped by the pilot and the wing was de-feathered starting at 17 km. The onboard avionics was re-booted and a smooth and uneventful landing made to Mojave.

2004 June 21 - . 14:50 GMT - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One. LV Configuration: Spaceship One 60L/15P.
  • SpaceShipOne Flight 15P - First Private Manned Spaceflight - . Nation: USA. Agency: Scaled. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi). White Knight/SpaceShipOne Flight 60L / 15P. First private manned spaceflight. A control system failure during ascent caused 90 degree rolls to left and right. This led to spacecraft not reaching the planned altitude and re-entering 35 km away from the intended point. Nevertheless pilot Melvill took SpaceShipOne just over 100 km, thereby becoming the first private citizen, third person born in Africa, second person born in South Africa, and oldest pilot in command to reach outer space.

2004 September 29 - . 15:09 GMT - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One. LV Configuration: Spaceship One 65L/16P.
  • SpaceShipOne Flight 16P - X-Prize Flight 1 - . Nation: USA. Agency: Scaled. Apogee: 103 km (64 mi). SpaceShipOne coasted to 103 km altitude and successfully completed the first of two X-Prize flights. The motor was shut down when the pilot noted that his altitude predictor exceeded the required 100 km mark. The motor burn lasted 77 seconds, 1 second longer than on the June 21st flight. Melvill was prepared to burn the motor up to 89 seconds, which indicates significant additional performance remains in SS1. During the motor burn the spacecraft began to roll uncontrollably, but Melvill pressed on despite advice from the ground to shut the motor down and abort the attempt.

2004 October 4 - . 14:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Mojave. Launch Complex: Mojave RW12/30. Launch Platform: W-Knight. Launch Vehicle: Tier One. LV Configuration: Spaceship One 66L/17P.
  • SpaceShipOne Flight 17P - X-Prize Flight 2 - . Nation: USA. Agency: Scaled. Apogee: 112 km (69 mi). Objectives of the flight were to win the Ansari X-Prize and break the rocketplane altitude record set by the X-15 in 1963. The Tier One (White Knight/SpaceShipOne) composite aircraft took off at 06:49 PST. Drop of the rockeplane was made exactly one hour later at 14.4 km altitude. Pilot Brian Binnie fired the hybrid rocket motor, which burned for 83 seconds. The engine cut off with SpaceShipOne at Mach 3.09 (3524 kph) at 65 km altitude. From there it coasted to 112 km altitude. Binnie experienced weightlessness for 3.5 minutes before re-entry began. The spacecraft reached Mach 3.25 during re-entry and a peak deceleration of 5.4 G's at 32 km altitude. Binnie reconfigured the vehicle to a glider at 15.5 km and then made an 18 minute glide to a landing at Mojave airport. SpaceShipOne thereby won the $10 million X-Prize. No anomalies were noted on the flight and SpaceShipOne returned with no maintenance squawks.

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