Firebird—manned or unmanned by Burt Rutan — Travel for Aircraft


The last official design of Burt Rutan, Firebird is a medium range long endurance reconnaissance aircraft which one ben flown manned or unmanned. Flying since late 2012 it operates as many as four sensor systems in parallel with a crew of as many as two though unmanned as missions require. Endurance is 40+ hours […]

via Firebird—manned or unmanned by Burt Rutan — Travel for Aircraft

End of a Chapter: WhiteKnightOne’s Final Flight


SpaceShipOne touched the edge of space on June 21st 2004 and went on to win the X-Prize later that year. A triumphant Rutan and Melville flew in to Airventure 2005 in WhiteNightOne and SpaceShipOne. Of the SpaceShipOne: one resides at the Smithsonian in DC and the other at the EAA museum in Oshkosh. WhiteNightOne rests in Everett, WA as part of the Paul Allen Heritage Collection.

Fly 'n Things

Last month marked 10 years since the first commercial space flight. SpaceShipOne quietly tucked under the belly of its mother ship, WhiteKnightOne, flew successfully into outer space on June 21st, 2004. Although the flight into outer space and the return lasted barely 24 minutes, it accomplished what Rutan set out to prove: that commercial space flight is feasible. Two subsequent flights in September and October of the same year, demonstrated undeniably that it is not only possible but can be accomplished with short turn around time.

Oshkosh 09Scaled Composites went on to win the Ansari X-Prize and continues to build SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo with commercial space tourism in mind under the auspices  of Virgin Galactic. After the three successful flights, SpaceShipOne was retired, and now graces the front galley in the Smithsonian Air and Space Musuem in Washington, D.C. This week marked the end of the first phase of commercial space…

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I was there!


SpaceShipOne Memorabilia

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Links:

End of a Chapter: WhiteKnightOne’s Final Flight
Launching the Next Generation of Space Flight
SpaceShipOne and I
SpaceShip One,  Government Zero
I touched SpaceShip One!!!

Oshkosh ’04


It’s SpaceShipOne week… and I am reblogging related posts on the topic!

Fly 'n Things

Launching the next century of flight

It is that time of the year again and I was fortunate enough to make it to Oshkosh for the third consecutive year in a row, albeit for just two days. It is always invigorating and exciting to be present at Oshkosh. Isn’t it incredible that such a small airport is transformed for one week into almost a city of its own, comprising of pilots and aviation enthusiasts from all over the world?

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The theme for this year’s convention was Launching the next century of Flight and what better way then by cheering the men who are launching the next generation of spacecraft? After the successful flight of SpaceshipOne on June 21st, there was much cause for celebration. A triumphant Rutan and Melville flew in the Starship Beechcraft, the chase plane for SpaceShipOne. Crowds thronged to hear Rutan and Melville speak, to…

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Monday Morning Inspiration 2


SkiGull

In a recent interview with AntennaFilms, Rutan said: “Imagine an aircraft able to land in large swells near any ocean shoreline and ride the waves to the beach, from where you could hike in for lunch and gas.

Rutan has spent the last few years, even in retirement in Idaho, designing a seaplane that can land in rough seas, calm waters, snow, or grass and run on gasoline.

IMG_1296

SkiGull is going to be an amphibous plane, and if it flies, it can do all those. And if it works, Rutan wants to fly from California to Hawaii without carrying supplemental fuel tanks. If it works well, ” Tonya and I will explore the world with it, visiting the places you cannot easily get to any other way, ” he says.

At age 71, Rutan is still going strong as ever.


Links:

A Legendary Airplane Designer Hints At His Next Creation
Burt Rutan’s Latest Project: The SkiGull

 

Two in Two Days


This past  week left a sad blow to the commercial space industry.

Friday was a busy day at work, and I didn’t hear about the crash of SpaceShipTwo until I got home in the evening. It was disheartening to hear about the loss of one of the pilots.

When rumors of SpaceShipOne originally surfaced back in 2003, I kept my ears open and followed its progress in earnest. Living in California at that time, it was easy.  Burt Rutan is a giant in the space industry. And by competing and finally winning the X-Prize he opened the doors to Commercial Space Flight. Not only did SpaceShipOne complete two successful flights into outer space,  but also  irrevocably proved the feasibility of a commercial space program.

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Manned space flight in the U.S came to a standstill on July 21, 2011 when STS-135 completed it’s mission and landed. Since then, NASA has retired all Space Shuttles and they are hangered in museums across the country. But this not a harbinger of the end of Space Flight. In fact, it brought forth many commercial adventurers and entrepreneurs who are fascinated with space.

Discovery1Since 2004, when Rutan of Scaled Composites,  proved it is possible to launch a non-NASA spaceflight, there has been considerable progress in that arena. Virgin Galactic was formed with an emphasis on Space Tourism  and promises to provide the experience of weightlessness to those that can afford it. The biggest success story is SpaceX, a company owned by Elon Musk, which continues to service NASA’s need to transport supplies to the International Space Station. There are other contenders such as Blue Origin, founded by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos.

DCF 1.0The space program has never been easy. The first human spaceflight on April 1961 by Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin made one orbit around the Earth on Vostok 1, followed a few weeks later by U.S. astronaut, Alan Sheppard aboard Freedom 7. Since then, there have been many successful manned missions to suborbital space, the Moon and man-made space stations. Since then there have been many unmanned flights to other planets and beyond. The causalities have been few and far in between. Safety has always been the strongest determinant.

On Tuesday evening, this past week, the Antares Rocket exploded a few seconds after launch, over the coast of Virginia. A malfunction in the rocket, necessitated a sequence which resulted in the self-destruction of the rocket. It was supposed to carry supplies to the International Space Station. It was an unmanned rocket operated by Orbital Sciences.

A little over two days later, on Friday morning  of the same week, SpaceShipTwo on a test flight crashed, a few minutes after it disengaged from it’s mother-ship and fired its rockets. It was unfortunate that there were causalities on this flight. One of the pilots Michael Alsbury perished, while Peter Seibold was injured.

But this is the price we pay sometimes,  to achieve our goals.

Two events during the same week, signal a terrible loss to the Commercial Space Industry. But the human race is resilient. True this will set us back a few years, but are we to give up now? As I have said before, when Columbia disintegrated on reentry, NASA, and other commercial operators need our support now, if we are ever to realize our aspirations of making it to space!

 

End of a Chapter: WhiteKnightOne’s Final Flight


Last month marked 10 years since the first commercial space flight. SpaceShipOne quietly tucked under the belly of its mother ship, WhiteKnightOne, flew successfully into outer space on June 21st, 2004. Although the flight into outer space and the return lasted barely 24 minutes, it accomplished what Rutan set out to prove: that commercial space flight is feasible. Two subsequent flights in September and October of the same year, demonstrated undeniably that it is not only possible but can be accomplished with short turn around time.

Oshkosh 09Scaled Composites went on to win the Ansari X-Prize and continues to build SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo with commercial space tourism in mind under the auspices  of Virgin Galactic. After the three successful flights, SpaceShipOne was retired, and now graces the front galley in the Smithsonian Air and Space Musuem in Washington, D.C. This week marked the end of the first phase of commercial space flight. WhiteKnightOne, the mother-ship of SpaceShipOne was finally retired. It flew it’s final flight to Paine Field, in Everett, WA where it will become a part of the Paul Allen Heritage Collection.

DCF 1.0I have fond memories of these two spacecrafts. Over the last decade I have had several opportunities to be up close and personal with them. It was back in the fall of 2003, when I first spied SpaceShipOne. Things were still hush-hush back then. One afternoon, I had an incredible opportunity to spend an hour or two in the hanger that houses SpaceShipOne in the offices of Scaled Composites in the Mohave Dessert, and to hear Rutan speak about his design and vision for spaceflight. How can I forget, that on that afternoon, in that hanger, when I surreptitiously let my hand caress the fuselage with wonder? Or later to think gleefully that if not I, that my fingerprints made it to space?

DCF 1.0Or, how can I forget, that other Spring day, when I drove out to the arid Mohave Dessert at 3:00 a.m. along with several thousands others, who held the same enthusiasm and joy to be there to experience history being made? Pristine, peaceful and awe-inspiring was the moment to see the WhiteKnightOne taxi up to the runway with ShipOneOne tucked in it’s belly and quietly depart in the pre dawn morning, climbing slowly to altitude. Or to see, Mike Melville’s, triumphant return, gliding SpaceShipOne back to earth.

Or, the excitement to flying into the nation’s only spaceport in 2005? Or seeing Rutan and Melville at Oshkosh in 2005, triumphant from their success? Flying in WhiteKnightOne and SpaceShipOne to Oshkosh during Airventure?

My encounters don’t end here. Airventure 2011, celebrated Rutan Designs. While SpaceShipOne and WhiteKnightOne were not present, several other Rutan designs were on display.

DCF 1.0On any given day, a few steps put’s me, up close and personal with SpaceShipOne.

Kudo’s to WhightKnightOne for a job well done. Maybe one day I will make it to Paine Field in Everett, WA and visit it.

spaceshiponeSpace is the Final Frontier. That we will make it there one day is a given!

Let’s do it!

 

Breezy: Check!


The air rushed at us as Mike eased the stick back. Whoa! This must be how Orville felt on that fateful day in December in Kitty Hawk when he lifted of the ground. The Breezy is no comparison to the Wright Flyer. The original Breezy was designed by Carl Unger. It is a “no cockpit” aircraft with a set of modified PA-12 wings and a continental engine. After almost 40 years of giving rides the original Breezy was donated to the EAA Airventure Museum.

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