Private space flight experiments

Burt Rutan has designed, built, and successfully flown 40 unusual aircraft, including "Voyager" that circled the earth without landing or refueling.

In response to a prize for successful private space flight he designed the craft shown, which was test flown September '03 and June 21, '04. The "White Knight" in the lower picture carries the "SpaceShipOne" in the upper picture to about 50,000 feet where it is released to rocket into sub-orbital flight. The rocket fuel is solid rubber burned with liquid nitrous oxide. The "SpaceShipOne" wings and tail tilt to slow the craft for re-entry then a long glide to a landing. The cockpits and controls of both ships are as identical as possible to simplify training and operation.

Rutan won the Ansari X prize with flights on September 29, 04 and October 4 to an altitude of over 62 miles.

NASA early in its planning considered launching the Shuttle from atop a special Boeing 747 flying at high altitude; that 747 later ferried the Shuttle across the country.