Headlines > News > Spaceport, Scaled prepare for X-Prize launches

Spaceport, Scaled prepare for X-Prize launches

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Fri Sep 17, 2004 11:38 pm
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Desertnews.com By Bill Deaver; MOJAVE — With the planned launch of Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne first attempt to win the $10 million X-Prize less than two weeks away, officials at Mojave Spaceport are meeting regularly to prepare for the event, and a follow-up launch within two weeks of the first flight.
And new rocket engines have been delivered for the Mojave-built spaceship’s prize attempts.
Bob Rice, the East Kern Airport District official in charge of the launch program, briefed personnel from Scaled Composites, airport security, Kern County sheriff and fire dept., and news media during a briefing Monday morning.
“The flights are less than two weeks and two days away,” Rice reminded his listeners as he moved around the room to several posters and charts containing details of the planned launches, which are expected to attract thousands of visitors to the spaceport.
Some of the charts were blank, but Rice said that situation will change this week as X-Prize officials move onto the airport.
“We have a lot to do in the next two weeks,” Rice said.
Among the many details necessary for the launches is sending a fax to the FAA on each of the launch days noting if any tortoises have been found on the spaceport grounds.
EKAD officials are also working with a firm that provides a material that can be applied to dirt parting areas to hold down dust without applying water.
Air show
Rice said the X-Prize flights will have more of an air show atmosphere than the historic June 21 flight of SpaceShipOne, which resulted in pilot Mike Melvill receiving astronaut wings from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Ansari X-Prize Foundation has contracted with Air Show Network to produce the two launches.
Rice is a veteran not only of previous SpaceShipOne launches, but of many years of managing launches and recoveries of NASA’s Space Shuttle. Following Monday’s meeting, airport crash rescue personnel participated in a simulated aircraft crash at the spaceport.
The drill, involving a BAE Slight Systems F-4 aircraft, helped emergency personnel train for a possible crash and was a biannual exercise BAE performs for the U.S. Air Force as part of its contract to convert F-4s into target drones.
Rocket engines
As emergency crews trained for the flights, the firm that builds the rocket engines for SpaceShipOne announced it has assembled and shipped the rocket motors that will be used for the upcoming historic attempt by SpaceShipOne to win the $10 million Ansari X-Prize. The hybrid rocket motors burn rubber and laughing gas (HTPB and N2O).
SpaceDev, based in Poway, California, finished casting the HTPB fuel into three discardable motor cases, assembled and integrated SpaceDev’s proprietary technology into the motors, and shipped them to Mojave in preparation for the flights. A less powerful version of this motor powered SpaceShipOne to fly well beyond 50 miles altitude, and created the world’s first private sector astronaut on June 21, 2004.

DRILL at Mojave Spaceport Monday morning accomplished two goals — it helped prepare spaceport emergency personnel for the Sept. 29 launch of SpaceShipOne in its attempt to win the $10 million X-Prize, and it was part of a twice-yearly exercise performed by BAE Flight Systems for the U.S. Air Force as part of the company’s contract to convert F-4 aircraft to target drones.

WAR ROOM at Mojave Spaceport is up and running to prepare for the two planned launches of SpaceShipOne Sept. 29 and Oct. 4th. East Kern Airport District’s Bob Rice, at right, a veteran of NASA Space Shuttle launches and recoveries, briefed personnel from Scaled Composites, airport security, Kern County sheriff and fire dept., and news media during Monday’s meeting.

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