Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SpaceShipOne - The Ten Phases of Flight

In April of 2003, a company called Scaled Composites lifted the veil of secrecy from a longtime research program and introduced SpaceShipOne—the world’s first commercially manned spacecraft. The program included an airborne launcher (the White Knight), a space ship (SpaceShipOne), rocket propulsion, avionics, simulator, and full ground support. SpaceShipOne's suborbital spaceflight could be broken down into ten different phases:

1. Liftoff of SpaceShipOne mated to White Knight
2. Captive-carry to launch altitude
3. SpaceShipOne separation from White Knight
4. Supersonic boost to space
5. Coast to apogee
6. Freefall from apogee
7. Supersonic reentry into the atmosphere
8. Descent with feather still up
9. Gliding descent back to runway
10. Horizontal landing

Diagram courtesy of Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC and SpaceShipOne, a Paul G. Allen Project, from Burt Rutan's Race to Space by Dan Linehan.

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