September 29, 2004

X-Prize Attempt (Liveblogging)

I have the webcast running on my screen (follow the "Webcast" link from this page) and plan to update as time permits today.

Update 08:17 CDT (GMT -6): Via Rand Simberg, HobbySpace provides this schedule of events:

1. White Knight with the SpaceShipOne will taxi to the runway at California's Mojave airport at 6:30 a.m. local time (9:30 a.m. EDT; 1330 GMT).
2. Airborne around 6:45 a.m. PDT (9:45 a.m. EDT; 1345 GMT).
3. About an hour later White Knight will reach an altitude of nearly 50,000 feet where SS1 is dropped at 7:45 a.m. PDT (10:45 a.m. EDT; 1445 GMT) and SS1 ignites its rocket engine
4. Powered flight of about 80 seconds
5. SpaceShipOne coasts up to an altitude of at least 62 miles and then reenters the atmosphere
6. Glides to a landing on the Mojave runway by 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT; 1530 GMT)

Update 08:19 CDT: The live webcast is quite congested. If it keeps up, I'm not sure how much of this I'll get to see "live".

Update 08:23 CDT: is running an update page, too.

Update 08:44 CDT: Mike Melvill will be the pilot for today's flight. Webcasters reporting he has flown more Rutan prototypes than any other pilot.

Update 09:02 CDT: White Knight is pulling out now, preparing for takeoff.

Update 09:15 CDT: White Knight is airborne.

Update 09:24 CDT: As White Knight gains altitude, the webcast cuts to a video recapping the conditions necessary to win the Ansari X-Prize and gives some background on the X-Prize history and concept. Good information for the casual observer.

Update 09:31 CDT: I just noticed the Virgin logo on SS1. Surely a result of this deal announced two days ago.

Update 09:37 CDT: White Knight/SpaceShipOne Separation to occur in about 40 minutes. No updates expected until then.

Update 09:43 CDT: X-Prize benefactor Anousheh Ansari is speaking. I think I'm going to award her a special X-prize-edition-honorary-SF-Babe prize (this is Science Fiction coming true, after all!)

Update 09:47 CDT: NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe speaking now. (Personal comment: "Regards to Captain Dunsel.")

Update 10:10 CDT: Separation! Godspeed, Mike Melvill!

Update 10:11 CDT: Rocket firing - SS1 is in a roll -- "Uh-oh... unscripted maneuver" -- engines shutdown.

Update 10:13 CDT: SS1 is in its "shuttlecock position" made it to 338,000 feet (~102 km). They made it!!! (Update in an update: awaiting official confirmation).

Update 10:17 CDT: Transition from shuttlecock to normal wings-locked flight -- SS1 is now a glider on the way home!

Update 10:18 CDT: Sonic boom in Mojave. Mike's on the way... green for landing ... descending.

Update 10:33 CDT: Flanked by chase planes, SS1 is making its final approach...

Update 10:34 CDT: Touchdown! Rutan and company now have two weeks to make another attempt (assuming official certification of the altitude).

Update 10:38 CDT: The White Knight carrier plane has just touched down safely.

Update 10:50-52 CDT: Nice views of SpaceShipOne being towed by the bandstand. Nice touch with American flag waving. "This magic day when super-science mingles with the bright stuff of dreams..." Melvill emerges from cockpit. Greeted by Burt Rutan. Lots of pictures for posterity.

Update 10:56 CDT: Melvill called the unscripted maneuver a "victory roll." SS1 "flies like a dream." He shut off the engine about 11 seconds earlier than automatic shutoff.

Update 11:02 CDT: "Major New Announcement" coming up shortly. Developing...

Update 11:09 CDT: Diamandis announcing the "X-Prize Cup" -- similar to a "Grand Prix" of space vehicles, to take place once a year in New Mexico. Marketing the concept of live TV coverage, corporate sponsorship, etc. This was announced several months ago, so I don't know if this really counts as a major "new" announcement.

That wraps up my live coverage for today. Check back tonight for additional commentary and links. Thanks!

Update 12:51 CDT: Since I won't be updating for the rest of the workday, be sure to check SpaceFlightNow and throughout the day for updates.

Posted by JohnL at September 29, 2004 08:12 AM
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