...Come See It For Yourself

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Scaled.com lists extensive details of what the public can expect at the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center on June 21. "White Knight [the carrier aircraft], with SpaceShipOne slung underneath, will taxi by right in front of the public viewing area. A few minutes later, you will see it take off." The kids might want earplugs for that. "You can see them circling overhead as they climb. It takes the pair of mated vehicles roughly one hour to reach 47,000 feet ... That is where White Knight releases SpaceShipOne. ... [It] glides for a few seconds, then the pilot lights the rocket and you'll be able to see flames and a rocket exhaust trail for about 80 seconds." Bring binoculars for a better view. With unprecedented verbosity, Scaled.com goes on ... "There will be a public address system in the viewing areas which will carry the radio transmissions between Mission Control, the White Knight pilot and the SpaceShipOne pilot, so you'll know what is happening. SpaceShipOne's flight lasts roughly 25 minutes. It will rocket to space, spend about three minutes weightless outside the atmosphere, then enter the earth's atmosphere in a high-drag configuration. It will glide back toward Mojave, circle overhead, then land directly in front of the public viewing area on the same runway on which it took off about 1 hour and 25 minutes earlier. SpaceShipOne's rocket is very loud but it can only be faintly heard on the ground in the best of conditions. If its reentry direction is aimed away from the airport, two soft sonic booms will be heard. After landing, SpaceShipOne will be towed by a truck to the media area for a brief photo opportunity, then moved to the adjacent public viewing area, then towed back to Scaled's facility. Thus, the media and the public will get to take their own close-up photos. White Knight takes longer to return. It usually lands a few minutes after SpaceShipOne." If you can't be there on the 21st, you'll have to wait till later in the year for "Rutan's Race For Space" on The Discovery Channel.