The SpaceShipOne exhibit salutes pioneering designs and flight accomplishments by EAA members and other designers.
Featuring a full-size SpaceShipOne replica, the exhibit uses dramatic sound and lighting effects, as well as rare video footage - some never seen in public - to tell the story of a mission into space aboard SpaceShipOne. During this journey, SpaceShipOne demonstrates a key technological breakthrough conceived by spacecraft designer Burt Rutan, a longtime EAA member.
To safely re-enter the atmosphere without excessive heating, SpaceShipOne hinges in half, completely changing the shape of the vehicle. This amazing physical transformation, which "feathers" the spacecraft for re-entry, will occur before museum visitors' eyes every hour on the hour.
A complete set of spacecraft components were fabricated at Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif., whose staff volunteered to complete the project under the supervision of the world's first civilian spacecraft pilot, longtime EAA member Mike Melvill.
History of SpaceShipOne
Announced in May 1996, the X Prize was a $10,000,000 award for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft. The contest winner was to be the first team to launch a piloted spacecraft, carrying the payload equivalent of two passengers to an altitude of at least 328,100 feet (62.14 miles), and then repeat the feat using the same spacecraft within two weeks.
To help stimulate innovation, and encourage the development of affordable spaceflight and space tourism, teams were forbidden to accept government funding for their efforts.
In total, 26 teams from around the world participated in the race to win the X Prize. A wide variety of new spacecraft designs were developed – including SpaceShipOne, which finally captured the X Prize on October 4, 2004.
Scaled Composites’ Tier One Project was the world's first privately funded manned space program. Concept design and preliminary work began in 1996 and a full development program began in secrecy in April 2001 supported by investor Paul Allen. The program was unveiled to the public in April 2003, and made three successful spaceflights in 2004.
Tier One represented a complete manned space program including a launch aircraft (White Knight), a reusable three-place spaceship (SpaceShipOne), a hybrid rocket propulsion system, a mobile propulsion test facility, a flight simulator, an inertial-nav flight director, a mobile mission control center, all spacecraft systems, a pilot training program and a complete flight test program.
The main objective of the Tier One program - to develop technology for low-cost routine access to space – was successfully achieved. In 2004 and 2005 deals based on Tier One technology were signed with the world’s first “spaceline” Virgin Galactic, to design and build several spacecraft to be used for space tourism.
Burt Rutan has stated that Tier One will cover suborbital flights, Tier Two will cover orbital flights, and Tier Three will cover flights beyond Earth's orbit to the moon and other planets.