For information about the design of SpaceShipOne, and on related projects and commercial ventures, see Tier One.

The Scaled Composites Model 316 SpaceShipOne is an experimental air-launched suborbital spaceplane that uses a hybrid rocket motor. The design features a unique "shuttlecock" reentry system whose half-delta wing folds upward at the center of its twin tail booms; this increases drag while remaining stable. It was developed by Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan's aviation company, in their Tier One program, without government funding. On June 21, 2004, it made the first privately-funded human spaceflight, and on October 4, it won the $10-million Ansari X Prize, by reaching 100 kilometers in altitude twice in a two-week period with the equivalent of three people on board, with no more than ten percent of the non-fuel weight of the spacecraft replaced between flights.

The achievements of SpaceShipOne are more comparable to the X-15 than orbiting spacecraft like the Space Shuttle. Accelerating a spacecraft to orbital speed requires more than 30 times as much energy as lifting it to 100 km.


SpaceShipOne is registered with the FAA as N328KF. 'N' is the prefix for US-registered aircraft; '328KF' was chosen by Scaled Composites to stand for 328 (k) feet (about 100 kilometers, the officially designated edge of space). The original choice of registry number, N100KM, was already taken. N328KF is registered as a glider, reflecting the fact that most of its independent flight is unpowered.

All of its flights have been from the Mojave Airport Civilian Flight Test Center.

SpaceShipOne's first flight, 01C, was an unmanned captive carry flight test on May 20 2003. Glide tests followed, starting with flight 03G on August 7, 2003. The first powered flight, flight 11P, was made on December 17, 2003, the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight.

On April 1, 2004, Scaled Composites received the first license for sub-orbital piloted rocket flights to be issued by the US Department of Transportation. This license permits the company to conduct powered test flights for one year. On June 17, 2004, Mojave Airport reclassified itself (part-time) as the Mojave Spaceport.

Flight 15P on June 21, 2004, was SpaceShipOne's first spaceflight, and the first privately funded human spaceflight. Ansari X Prize flights followed, with flight 17P on October 4, 2004, winning the prize.


Flights of SpaceShipOne are numbered, starting with flight 01 on May 20, 2003. One or two letters are appended to the number to indicate the type of mission. An appended C indicates that the flight was a captive carry, G indicates an unpowered glide, and P indicates a powered flight. If the actual flight differs in category from the intended flight, two letters are appended: the first indicating the intended mission and the second the mission actually performed.

In the table below, the "top speed" reported is the Mach number at burn-out (the end of the rocket burn). This is not an absolute speed.

SpaceShipOne flights
Flight Date Top speed Altitude Duration Pilot
01C May 20 2003 1 h 48 min unmanned
02C July 29 2003 2 h 06 min Mike Melvill
03G August 7 2003 0 h 19 min Mike Melvill
04GC August 27 2003 1 h 06 min Mike Melvill
05G August 27 2003 10 min 30 s Mike Melvill
06G September 23 2003 12 min 15 s Mike Melvill
07G October 17 2003 17 min 49 s Mike Melvill
08G November 14 2003 19 min 55 s Peter Siebold
09G November 19 2003 12 min 25 s Mike Melvill
10G December 4 2003 13 min 14 s Brian Binnie
11P December 17 2003 Mach 1.2 20.7 km 18 min - 10 s Brian Binnie
12G March 11 2004 18 min - 30 s Peter Siebold
13P April 8 2004 Mach 1.6 32.0 km 16 min 27 s Peter Siebold
14P May 13 2004 Mach 2.5 64.3 km 20 min - 44 s Mike Melvill
15P June 21 2004 Mach 2.9 100.1 km 24 min 05 s Mike Melvill
16P September 29 2004 Mach 2.92 102.9 km 24 min 11 s Mike Melvill
17P October 4 2004 Mach 3.09 112.0 km 23 min 56 s Brian Binnie

Specifications (SpaceShipOne)Edit

General characteristicsEdit

  • Crew: one pilot (capable of taking 3)
  • Length: 5 m
  • Wingspan: 5 m
  • Height:
  • Core Diameter: 1.52 m
  • Wing area: 15 m²
  • Empty: 1,200 kg
  • Loaded: 3,600 kg
  • Maximum takeoff:
  • Powerplant: 1x N2O/HTPB SpaceDev Hybrid Solid rocket engine, 7,500 kgf (74 kN) thrust. Isp: 250 s (2.5 km/s) Burn time: 87 seconds


  • Maximum speed: Mach 3.09 (3,518 km/h)
  • Range: 65 km
  • Service ceiling: 112,000 m
  • Rate of climb: 25,000 m/min
  • Wing loading: 240 kg/m²
  • Thrust-to-Weight: 20 N/kg

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Related contentEdit

Related development: Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwoScaled Composites Model 318

Comparable aircraft:

Designation sequence: SpaceShipOneSpaceShipTwoSpaceShipThree

Watching SpaceShipOne flyEdit

SpaceShipOne's spaceflights have been watched by large crowds at Mojave Spaceport. On July 25, 2005 SpaceShipOne landed at the Oshkosh Airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. After the airshow, the aircraft was flown to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum to be put on display. It was unveiled on Wednesday October 5, 2005 in the Milestones of Flight gallery and is now on display to the public.

External linksEdit

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