We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

SpaceShipOne lights the candle

It is rather late here and I’ve had a flu bug all week… but I had to confirm and report this before I call it a night.

One of our readers (Juliam Morrison) mentioned in comments that SpaceShipOne went supersonic. I’ve just chatted with Jeff Greason of XCOR, another Mojave denizen and confirmed it.

On December 17th, 2003, SpaceShipOne dropped from the mother ship, lit the rocket engine and broke the sound barrier. The Space Age is about to begin.

I probably won’t have the flight data for a couple days, but I’ll pull the press release tomorrow and post the info.

Now, was I right or was I right?

8 comments to SpaceShipOne lights the candle

  • Brian Micklethwait

    And as I don’t need to tell you Dale but as our many punters might like to be told, again, Dec 17 was the 100th anniversary of a certain flight at Kittyhawk.

    It’s great when things turn out right, and Wright.

    Meanwhile, on BBC4 on Wednesday night (17th), after a terrific little documentary about Orville and Wilbur, they were talking about flying as if the days of innovation by people like them are now over, and as if, from now on and for ever, only Big Government will or could ever do Space. The future, they were saying, belongs only to big acronymic organisations.

    They wish.

  • Julian Morrison


    I love the way they just casually go supersonic on their first try, like “oh whatever, just an engine test”, as if it didn’t just become the first ever wholly private supersonic aircraft!

  • Skookumchuk

    And Scaled Composites now has on their web site that Microsoft bazillionaire Paul Allen is a major sponsor, as many have suspected.

    Ah, to be back home in the Mojave come springtime, binoculars in hand, witnessing the real thing . . .

  • David Masten

    Julian, I believe the Bede BD-10 has rights to “first wholly private supersonic aircraft”.

  • Just on the off-chance that noone goes to the BBC web site for news anymore and so, will have missed it, here is their story on the flight:

    Private plane breaks sound speed.

  • mad dog

    “…The Space Age is about to begin…”

    Did I just dream of the adventures of “sputnik” and Gagarin then? I suspect the space age began sometime last century – it is the “privatisation” of space has possibly just begun. Not neccessarily a bad thing either…

    …until demented person claims there are “terrists” on the moon neccessitatiing the restrictive licensing of such endeavours.

  • Dale Amon

    Maddog: After having lived through the entirety of the state space program… yes, I do not call it the Space Age. It was too much too early and then sweet FA afterwards. Buzz is a great guy and all, but he and Neil are the Leif Erichsen’s of our age.

    We’ve a giant space station in orbit that cost billions to build, billions to maintain, and which NASA had to practically get kicked in the balls to let anything truly commercial (ie tourists) happen on board. Given NASA’s way of doing things, it will one day be de-orbited for ‘safety’. NASA doesn’t build infrastructure. They build projects and then destroy them to get them out of the way of their latest toy. Like they are planning for Hubble for example; like they leaned on the Russians on Mir. They do not build on the past.

    The Space Age starts when real spaceships carrying real profit minded people start taking off.

    The rest of it is just a big round of pyramid building and corporate welfare. Some of the pyramids are admirable and interesting mind you; some of the data is interesting. But none of it is sustainable.

  • bob

    The BD10 never successfully made a supersonic flight. Both attempts end in fatalities of the pilot and aircraft. High speed buffeting was considered. However, the project fell apart shortly after. Damn shame too. It would have been a fantastic accomplishment.