SpaceDev’s revolutionary rocket motor technology successfully powered
SpaceShipOne on its historic first powered flight, on the 100th
anniversary of the first human powered flight by the Wright brothers.
Today, a significant milestone was achieved by our customer, Scaled
Composites, as they successfully tested the first manned supersonic
flight of an aircraft developed by a small company’s private,
non-government effort.

“It was an incredible sight!” said SpaceDev founding chairman and
chief executive Jim Benson. “We were watching as the White Knight
dropped SpaceShipOne at about ten miles up, and we waited breathlessly
as the White Knight pealed off and SpaceShipOne fell for a few
seconds. Then with a really visible flash of light and stream of
smoke, our rocket motor lit, and SpaceShipOne seemed to blast straight
up for about 15 seconds that seemed like minutes. Then the flame and
smoke stopped, but you could still see little SpaceShipOne coasting up
toward space at an incredible speed. What a sight! It was even more
exciting than watching Apollo 17 lift off at night way back in 1972.
After working on this project for four years, space is now exciting

After being released by the White Knight, a carrier aircraft,
SpaceShipOne Test Pilot Brian Binnie flew the ship to a stable, 0.55
mach gliding flight condition, started a pull-up, and fired its hybrid
rocket motor. Nine seconds later, SpaceShipOne broke the sound barrier
and continued its steep powered ascent. The climb was very aggressive,
accelerating forward at more than 3-g while pulling upward at more
than 2.5-g. At motor shutdown, 15 seconds after ignition, SpaceShipOne
was climbing at a 60-degree angle and flying near 1.2 Mach (930 mph).
Brian then continued the maneuver to a vertical climb, achieving zero
speed at an altitude of 68,000 feet.

“This successful and historic flight is important because we are
showing that the private sector can perform human space flight faster,
safer and cheaper. In addition, this is historic because it is the
first human flight ever powered by hybrid rocket technology, and
SpaceDev is proud to be leading the way, by providing critical hybrid
motor components and technology to Scaled. It is creating this kind of
challenge and stimulating a renewed sense of excitement about space
that caused me to start SpaceDev,” said Benson. “The entire SpaceDev
engineering team is pleased to help pioneer this New Space Age.”

About SpaceDev

SpaceDev creates and sells affordable and innovative
space products and solutions to government and commercial enterprises.
Upon founding SpaceDev in 1997, Jim Benson started the trend of
successful computer entrepreneurs moving into the space development
arena. For more information, visit

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