Flying magazine for pilots flying airplanes and helicopters in the Southwest
SW Aviator Magazine Aviation Magazine - Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah
General aviation flight magazine
current past airport classified events links contact
SW Aviator Feb/Mar 2001
SW Aviator Magazine is available in print free at FBOs and aviation-related businesses throughout the Southwest or by subscription.
- - - - - -
Airshows, Fly-ins, Seminars
2001 Aviation Events Calendar
The web's most comprehensive database of Southwest area aviation events.
- - - - - -
Site of the Minute
Featured Site:
A continuosly changing collection of links to our favorite aviation related web sites.
- - - - - -
Used Aircraft For Sale
- - - - - -


Story and photos by Jim Upton

SpaceShipOne, a Burt Rutan, Scaled Composites project for traveling into space cost-effectively has been in work for over three years, was revealed on April 18th, at the Scaled Composites facility in Mojave, California. Actual flight hardware was shown which included the rocket powered SpaceShipOne and the mother ship White Knight, which has been flying since August 1, 2002 with approximately 35 flights to date.

Billed as the first non-government manned spacecraft, SpaceShipOne uses a new non-toxic hybrid rocket propulsion system being developed specifically for it. The cabin is completely pressurized with redundancy that does not require using pressure suits. The unusual multiple round windows were installed instead of square windows because of their lower structural loads and lower weight.

The primary goal for the new space ship is to demonstrate affordable sub-orbital space flight. Planned peak altitude is 328,000 feet, which corresponds to the height required for the $10 million X-prize. The unique configuration allows aircraft-like qualities for boost, glide, and landing. Three flight control systems are installed; manual controls for subsonic flight, electric trim for supersonic flight, and reaction control system thrusters for flight control out of the atmosphere. A very unique part of the control system is the pneumatically actuated “feather” mode. The entire tail assembly and part of the wing is hinged and raised to about a 60-degree angle. This shuttlecock effect provides a stable, high drag shape for atmospheric entry, which allows a ‘hands-off’ re-entry and greatly reduces aero/thermal loads.

SpaceShipOne will be launched by the mother ship White Knight at about 50,000 feet. Powered by two afterburning J-85-GE-5 engines, it has an 82-foot wingspan and an internal fuel capacity of 6400 pounds. The three-place cabin is qualified for unlimited altitude. Manual flight controls are augmented with a three axis trim system. In addition to the mother ship duties for the White Knight, other mission capabilities include reconnaissance, surveillance, atmospheric research, data relay, telecommunications, imaging, and booster launch for micro-satellites.

SpaceShipOne is carried under the White Knight and both aircraft have the same cockpit and three-place cabin. The White Knight is equipped to flight qualify all the spacecraft systems except the rocket propulsion. The White Knight’s avionics, ECS, pneumatics, trim servos, data system, and electrical system components are identical to those installed on the space ship. This arrangement provides a flying simulator for SpaceShipOne pilot training.

Burt Rutan said he would like a manned space flight to take place before the anniversary Wright brothers first powered flight.
Click here to return to the beginning of this article.
The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publications and the staff neither assume any responsibility for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising fom it
SW Aviator Magazine • 3909 Central NE • Albuquerque, NM 87108
Phone: 505.256.7031 • Fax: 505.256.3172 • e-mail:
©2001 Southwest Regional Publishing, Inc.