Skill Level 3. Previous experience recommended.
This model builds into a detailed 1:48 scale replica of SpaceShipOne. Two versions are now available representing the vehicle as it appeared in December 2003 (the time of its first powered flight) and October 2004 (when it won the X-Prize). The completed model is approximately 7 inches long.
You will need a colour printer capable of handling card or cover stock to print the parts sheets. 67 lb cover stock (approx 8.5 thousandths of an inch or 0.2 mm thick) is recommended.
The X-Prize competition, initiated in 1996, offered a $10 million award for the construction of a vehicle that can carry three people to an altitude of 100 km., return them safely to earth, and repeat the flight within two weeks. In 2003 Scaled Composites, founded by famed aircraft designer Burt Rutan, made headlines with their entry into the contest. This was a two-stage launch system called Tier One, comprising a jet-powered carrier aircraft, White Knight, and a rocket spacecraft, SpaceShipOne.
SpaceShipOne beneath White Knight.
Photo credit: Scaled Composites
Carried beneath White Knight to 50,000 ft., SpaceShipOne was released to fly under its own power to the 100 km. target height. For re-entry, the spacecraft's entire tailplane tilted upward in a high-drag 'feather' configuration. As it approached the ground, the tail returned to its normal flying position, and the vehicle glided to a runway landing. The first glide flight of SpaceShipOne occurred on August 7, 2003, and the first rocket-powered flight test took place on December 17, achieving a speed of Mach 1.2.
On 21 June 2004, pilot Mike Melvill took SpaceShipOne beyond 100 km. altitude and returned safely to earth. While this flight did not qualify toward the X-Prize, it represented an important achievement as the first manned spaceflight by a privately-funded vehicle.
On 29 September and 4 October 2004 SpaceShipOne, piloted by Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie respectively, completed the two required flights and won the X-Prize. Though no passengers were aboard, ballast equivalent to the weight of two people was added to meet the requirements of the competition. A year later, on 5 October 2005, SpaceShipOne was unveiled at the National Air and Space Museum's “Milestones of Flight” gallery, alongside such famous aircraft as the Bell X-1 and the Spirit of St.Louis.
SpaceShipOne in illustrious company.
Photo credit: Eric Long, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Last updated 2 July 2013
Copyright 2004-2013 by Ralph Currell