SpaceShipOne Launch in Mojave:
Gallery Two (Launch Day)

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Previously, AVweb brought you a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos from the SpaceShipOne launch preparations. Today we're back with photos from the actual launch, the flight, and the celebrations afterward.

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Be sure to check out our
gallery of pre-launch photos

And that's just the media parking lot ...

Pre-dawn Monday.
The world awaits.
The beginning of a very new day.
Libyan Mig killer and manager of China Lake's restricted airspace, Rear Admiral Dave Venlet (right), chats with Dick Rutan. General Doug Pearson, the only person to have ever shot down a satellite from a fighter jet, currently manages the restricted airspace of Edwards AFB.
White Knight with SpaceShipOne rotates for liftoff. Under the word "Scaled" is the fairing that would later buckle in flight.
Taxiing for departure. Look closely Melville is giving the
"thumbs up."
A spacecraft launched from a "small commercial airport."
Old and new. The first glimpse.
SpaceShipOne's contrail. X-Prize sponsor Ansari.

Note the curved path, possibly indicative of the actuator failure and Melville's recovery.

Dick Rutan (in front of the crash truck) looks toward Scaled VP/Program Manager Kevin Mickey (foreground) as an unexpected communications blackout raises concerns. VIP, fighter pilot, test pilot, and air show pilot extraordinaire Bob Hoover in attendance.
Off to make history. White Knight in victory fly-by.
SpaceShipOne at touchdown alongside low-altitude chase (an Extra 300). SpaceShipOne in glide over Mojave.

With a bad trim system, "he was calling my altitude to touch down foot by foot," said Melville.

Burt Rutan on the taxiway awaits touchdown. A historic contrail.
Confusion about where to look, as a concerned Scaled VP/ Program Manager Kevin Mickey strains for visual contact. There was a lot of that going around.
Buckled fairing clearly visible on the bottom aft portion of the craft, just forward of the rocket nozzle. Post-flight inspection indicated the nozzle itself was in no way compromised. From left, Extra 300, Beech Starship, and AlphaJet performed as chase aircraft at low, medium, and high altitudes, respectively.

Paul Allen, Mike Melville, and Burt Rutan (paying homage) after a safe return.
Satisfaction, elation, relief ... Success!
A challenged Melville emerges triumphant. Not bad for 63.

The team. As Melville thanks his comrades, Rutan takes a moment to compose himself.

Melville describes the view from 328,000 feet: The clouds over the ocean, "it looked just like snow to me ... . It sparkled just like snow."

By the people, for the people.

After the flight, as the crew went two miles out of its way to tow the craft past the RV parking, a man held up a sign that read "SpaceShipOne, Government Zero."

Melville took the sign and hoisted it above his head as he rode atop the craft.


Patty Gray Smith, representing the DOT and FAA, bestows Mojave airport operations manager Stu Witt official papers that declare the location the world's first inland spaceport.