Launch of the first privately funded and developed space launch
vehicle, took place on 21 June 2004. Being able to witness this
flight was an opportunity that I could not pass up. Congratulations
to Burt Rutan, Paul Allen, the Scaled Composites crew, and pilot-astronaut
Mike Melville for making that "next step" a reality.
Here are some photos from the flight.
First glimpse of the SpaceShipOne slung under the mother
drop ship as it taxies for takeoff.
Final pre-takeoff checks are being performed at the
start of the runway.
Start of roll-out down the runway.
Takeoff speed builds as the mother ship with SpaceShipOne
heads for liftoff.
Mother ship carrying SpaceShipOne lifts off and begins
its climb to altitude.
The climb to the launch altitude of 45,000 feet took
about 45 minutes. The attached craft would go in and out of view
during the ascent. Sight of the craft was lost just before launch,
but it was easily seen when the rocket engine ignited. The crowd
SpaceShipOne rockets its way to space and disappears
as it leaves the atmosphere...........
- Sunrise at Mojave.
- The Dawn of Privatized Spaceflight
...and successfully re-enters a few minutes later.
For those of us on the ground, it was a tense 'few minutes' which
seemed longer than it was. Upon sight of the returning spacecraft,
the crowd cheered and applauded. Here the chase planes catch up
and follow SpaceShipOne as it makes its way home from space.
Sight of the returning SpaceShipOne becomes a blur
of heads and up-reached cameras as the spacecraft passes by for
touchdown a few feet away.
Pilot-astronaut Mike Melville triumphantly waves to
onlookers as he rides atop SpaceShipOne during a post-landing
taxi past the cheering crowd.
Pilot and spacecraft are towed back to the hangar after
a successful flight to space and back.
Well......you can't blame them...it was definitely
Standing atop the spaceship, Pilot-Astronaut Mike Melville
gives the two-thumbs-up sign after piloting the first private
flight to space and back.
Congratulations to Mike Melville, Burt Rutan and the
Scaled Composites Crew, and to Paul Allen for taking the "next
step" and bringing us closer to routine spaceflight.
Now here's a thought...Wouldn't it be cool if they
could give Dave's red 2001 space helmet a ride to space? Of course
I'd have to go along just to hold the thing.
Burt & Paul, what do you think?