FAA Licenses Mojave Spaceport, Scaled's SpaceShipOne Flies Again

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Onward To The Universe (And Beyond?)...

At somewhere around Mach 2 and 105,000 feet, Scaled Composite's SpaceShipOne last Thursday took Peter Siebold to a place where civilian pilots have never gone before. The test flight launched just one day after the FAA's announcement that it had granted its first-ever license for suborbital manned rocket flight to Scaled Composites, of Mojave, Calif. The license was issued April 1 by the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation for a sequence of flights spanning a one-year period. The FAA license is required for U.S. contenders in the X PRIZE competition. The X PRIZE foundation will award $10 million to the first company or organization to launch a vehicle capable of carrying three people to a height of 62.5 miles, return them safely to Earth, and repeat the flight with the same vehicle within two weeks. Twenty-seven contestants representing seven countries have registered for the X PRIZE. Rutan's effort is funded by multi-billionaire Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft. Thursday's flight was the second powered flight for SpaceShipOne, which flew its first powered test flight on Dec. 17, when it broke the sound barrier. On Thursday, the engine burned for 40 seconds. The aircraft had previously undergone extensive flight testing in glide mode.