Scaled Composites Announces Flight To 100 KM...

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And You're Invited (Just Don't Fly)...

Burt Rutan plans to launch SpaceShipOne on its highest flight yet on June 21, and in an unusual twist for the once-secretive project (and generally secretive company), not only is the launch being announced in advance ... but you're invited to come to Mojave and see it for yourself. At the Scaled Composites Web site yesterday, the company announced that "Everyone, especially children," is welcome. You can even bring your RV and your dog (on a leash), but don't bring your airplane -- the Mojave airport will be closed to transient aircraft starting several days before the event. The flight plan calls for SpaceShipOne to reach an altitude of 100 kilometers, the height specified by the X PRIZE, but Rutan is billing this flight as a test only. "Based on the success of the June space flight attempt, SpaceShipOne will later compete for the Ansari X PRIZE," said yesterday's news release. The announcement follows a May 13 test flight in which pilot Mike Melvill reached a height of 211,400 feet (approximately 40 miles), the highest altitude ever reached by a non-government aerospace program. Sub-orbital space flight refers to a mission that flies out of the atmosphere but does not reach the speeds needed to sustain continuous orbiting of the earth. "The view from a sub-orbital flight is similar to being in orbit, but the cost and risks are far less," the news release said. The name of the test pilot for the June flight has not yet been released.