Status: Inactive; Active -2007. Born: 1941. Spaceflights: 2 . Total time in space: 0.0187 days. Birth Place: South African.
Mike Melvill is Vice President/General Manager and a Test Pilot at Scaled Composites, LLC in Mojave, California.
Melvill spent his childhood in South Africa. Although born in Johannesburg, he was raised in Durban, and attended Hilton College. He met his wife Sally in Durban in 1959. He married her in the UK in 1961. The couple emigrated to America in 1967, settled in Indiana, and became interested in flying. He decided to build his own VariViggen (Burt Rutan's first homebuilt kit aircraft). In 1978 he and Sally flew the finished aircraft to California to show it to Rutan. The aircraft designer hired them both on the spot. In 1982 he was named Rutan's lead test pilot. He returned to South Africa for the first time in 16 years in 1988, and again during his around-the-world Long-EZ flight with Rutan in 1997.
Melvill holds an FAA Commercial pilot's certificate, ASEL, AMEL, instrument airplane, Rotorcraft-helicopter and Glider. He has accumulated more than 6900 flight hours in 123 fixed wing-types, and 11 rotary wing types. He was awarded the Ivan C Kincheloe trophy in 1999 by the SETP for high altitude, developmental flight-testing of the model 281 Proteus aircraft and holds four World and National speed and altitude records in Burt's Catbird and Proteus aircraft. He is an Associate Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and has been a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association for 31 years. He has flown nine first flights of Burt Rutan's aircraft designs, including SpaceShipOne.
Melvill built his own VariViggen and Long-EZ homebuilt aircraft.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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....
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....
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
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....
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.
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.
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....
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....
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
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....
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
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.
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
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.
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 3.5G's. 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.