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Expedition 10 preview
International Space Station officials at Johnson Space Center provide a detailed preview of the Expedition 10 mission during this pre-launch press conference. (19min 15sec file)
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Expedition 9 recap
A review of the soon-to-be completed Expedition 9 mission aboard the International Space Station is presented by mission managers at Johnson Space Center. (32min 38sec file)
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Checking their ride
Expedition 10 commander Leroy Chiao, flight engineer Salizhan Sharipov and Russian taxi cosmonaut Yuri Shargin climb aboard their Soyuz capsule for a fit check in advance of launch to the International Space Station. (1min 45sec file)
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Spirit panorama
This amazing panorama of the martian surface at Columbia Hills was taken by the Spirit rover. Expert narration is provided by camera scientist Jim Bell. (2min 12sec file)
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Update on Mars rovers
Mars Exploration Rover project manager Jim Erickson and panoramic camera lead scientist Jim Bell offer comments on the status of the Spirit and Opportunity missions (1min 33sec file)
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Delta rocket assembly
The first stage of Boeing's Delta 2 rocket that will launch NASA's Swift gamma-ray burst detection observatory in November is erected on pad 17A at Cape Canaveral, Florida. (4min 52sec file)
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Solid boosters arrive
The three solid-fueled rocket boosters for the Boeing Delta 2 vehicle that will launch the Swift satellite are hoisted into the pad 17A mobile service tower. (4min 55sec file)
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SRBs go for attachment
The mobile service tower carries the solid boosters into position for attachment to the Delta 2 rocket's first stage. (3min 08sec file)
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Swift nose cone
The two halves of the 10-foot diameter rocket nose cone that will enclose NASA's Swift satellite during launch aboard a Boeing Delta 2 vehicle are lifted into the pad 17A tower. (4min 26sec file)
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BY SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Follow the launch of SpaceShipOne for its X Prize attempts by reloading this page for the very latest on the mission.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2004

British businessman Richard Branson, president of the Virgin Group and one of the world's most recognized entrepreneurs, said today he hopes to begin carrying space tourists on sub-orbital flights in just three years. Read our story.

1759 GMT (1:59 p.m. EDT)

Former space shuttle commander Rick Searfoss, an X Prize judge, is telling the post-flight news conference currently underway that SpaceShipOne has met all of the prize rules. The tracking data for today's flight shows the ship reached a top altitude of 367,442 feet, well exceeding the 328,000 feet threshold.

1710 GMT (1:10 p.m. EDT)

After landing today Rutan took the opportunity to make a dig at NASA, which he refers to as "that other space agency."

"Quite frankly, I think the big guys, the Boeings, the Lockheeds, the nay-say people at Houston, they probably ... think we're a bunch of home builders who put a rocket in a Long Easy," he said, referring to one of his recreational aircraft designs. "But if they ... got a look at how this flight was run and how we developed the capabilities of this ship and showed its safety, I think they're looking at each other now and saying, 'We're screwed.'"

Read our updated story here.

1545 GMT (11:45 a.m. EDT)

Unofficial altitude was 368,000 feet. Radar tracking data will be used to verify the specific height reached during the flight.

1538 GMT (11:38 a.m. EDT)

The post-flight speeches continue. Paul Allen, the guy putting the money behind SpaceShipOne, says it was a very smooth launch.

1534 GMT (11:34 a.m. EDT)

Burt Rutan says today's flight beat the X-15 altitude record by 13,000 feet set in 1963.

1529 GMT (11:29 a.m. EDT)

Binnie has climbed out following his historic voyage to space.

1527 GMT (11:27 a.m. EDT)

SpaceShipOne is now in view of the spectators in Mojave.

1520 GMT (11:20 a.m. EDT)

SpaceShipOne, flown by veteran test pilot Brian Binnie, rocketed into space history today, climbing higher than 62 miles for the second time in five days in a bid to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize for designer Burt Rutan and financial backer Paul Allen. Read our full here.

1519 GMT (11:19 a.m. EDT)

White Knight is landing under the control of pilot Mike Melvill.

1516 GMT (11:16 a.m. EDT)

In about 10 minutes, the ship will be towed to the viewing location for post-flight celebrations. A news conference is expected in a couple hours to announce the X Prize results.

1514 GMT (11:14 a.m. EDT)

SpaceShipOne has rolled to a stop on the Mojave runway.

1513 GMT (11:13 a.m. EDT)

TOUCHDOWN! SpaceShipOne has safely returned to Earth, bringing the world's second private astronaut, Brian Binnie, home after a presumably smooth X Prize launch!

1512 GMT (11:12 a.m. EDT)

The landing gear is down at 4,200 feet!

1511 GMT (11:11 a.m. EDT)

Descending through 6,000 feet.

1510 GMT (11:10 a.m. EDT)

Altitude now 9,000 feet.

1509 GMT (11:09 a.m. EDT)

An X Prize official notes that part of rules for winning the $10 million dictate the spacecraft must return "substantially intact" and the pilot in good health.

1507 GMT (11:07 a.m. EDT)

Burt Rutan, Paul Allen and other VIPs have gathered at the runway to greet their returning spacecraft.

1506 GMT (11:06 a.m. EDT)

SpaceShipOne is now descending through 17,000 feet.

1504 GMT (11:04 a.m. EDT)

Chase aircraft have rendezvoused with SpaceShipOne to provide an up-close inspection of the craft prior to landing.

1500 GMT (11:00 a.m. EDT)

No problems have been reported during today's flight and SpaceShipOne appeared very stable during the boost to space.

1457 GMT (10:57 a.m. EDT)

The wings have been folded back down, putting SpaceShipOne into glider mode. Binnie will pilot the ship to a powerless landing on the same runway where the mission began over an hour ago.

1455 GMT (10:55 a.m. EDT)

The ship's wings are folded up to provide a "feather" effect to give the ship extremely high drag for re-entry. This allows the reentry deceleration to occur at a higher altitude and greatly reduces the forces and heating on the structure. This is one of the key innovative features of SpaceShipOne.

1454 GMT (10:54 a.m. EDT)

Astronaut Binnie is experiencing about 5 times Earth's gravity during this entry.

1454 GMT (10:54 a.m. EDT)

SpaceShipOne is descending through Earth's atmosphere, falling through 180,000 feet now.

1453 GMT (10:53 a.m. EDT)

The unofficial apogee call is 368,000 feet -- well above the threshold of space to win the X Prize.

1453 GMT (10:53 a.m. EDT)

Apogee has been reached. The craft and astronaut Brian Binnie have reached the high point of today's suborbital flight.

1452 GMT (10:52 a.m. EDT)

350,000 feet and still climbing! SpaceShipOne is flying higher than ever before.

1451 GMT (10:51 a.m. EDT)

Wing feathering for re-entry is now underway.

1450 GMT (10:50 a.m. EDT)

Cutoff. Engine has burned out. The craft is continuing to ascend on its momentum.

1450 GMT (10:50 a.m. EDT)

Rocket engine continues to fire as the craft passes 200,000 feet.

1450 GMT (10:50 a.m. EDT)

Altitude is 100,000 feet.

1449 GMT (10:49 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 30 seconds. SpaceShipOne is soaring with a smooth trajectory.

1449 GMT (10:49 a.m. EDT)

IGNITION! SpaceShipOne is blasting to space to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

1449 GMT (10:49 a.m. EDT)

DROP! SpaceShipOne has separated from the White Knight mothership. Standing by for main engine start.

1448 GMT (10:48 a.m. EDT)

White Knight has entered the pre-set drop box for releasing SpaceShipOne.

1445 GMT (10:45 a.m. EDT)

Drop is moments away, mission officials now report.

1439 GMT (10:39 a.m. EDT)

Launch is estimated to be 10 minutes away.

1433 GMT (10:33 a.m. EDT)

The latest altitude report is 43,500 feet as White Knight fights to climb higher in the thin atmosphere.

1428 GMT (10:28 a.m. EDT)

The current altitude is 42,000 feet, heading toward a drop point 46,000 feet above California. The exact launch time will be determined by how long it takes White Knight to reach the proper altitude.

1424 GMT (10:24 a.m. EDT)

Launch is expected in approximately 15 minutes.

Seconds after dropping from the belly of White Knight, the SpaceShipOne engine will be ignited under the control of pilot Brian Binne. There are two switches in the cockpit -- one to arm the engine, the other to fire it.

The engine will burn for approximately 87 seconds, propelling the spacecraft at least 62 miles above Earth for today's suborbital spaceflight.

SpaceShipOne is powered by a hybrid rocket motor. The innovative engine uses a solid, rubbery hydroxy-terminated polybutadiene propellant and nitrous oxide laughing gas as the oxidizer. Both are safe to handle and the oxidizer is self-pressurizing at room temperature, allowing SpaceShipOne to avoid the use of complicating turbopumps.

1418 GMT (10:18 a.m. EDT)

The carrier is ascending through 33,000 feet.

1409 GMT (10:09 a.m. EDT)

The White Knight/SpaceShipOne duo is now about 25,000 feet over California, heading for the launch spot nearly 50,000 feet up.

1400 GMT (10:00 a.m. EDT)

White Knight continues to climb toward the launch altitude with escort from chase aircraft.

1349 GMT (9:49 a.m. EDT)

TAKEOFF! SpaceShipOne has departed Mojave airport for today's launch to claim the $10 million X Prize. The tiny craft -- with would-be astronaut Brian Binnie strapped aboard -- will be ferried nearly 50,000 feet above the planet by the White Knight carrier aircraft. In about an hour, SpaceShipOne will be dropped from White Knight to ignite its hybrid rocket engine and blast into space.

1348 GMT (9:48 a.m. EDT)

White Knight is rolling down the runway under the power of its two engines.

1339 GMT (9:39 a.m. EDT)

SpaceShipOne pilot Brian Binnie is sticking his hand out a porthole window, waving to the crowds lining the runway.

1336 GMT (9:36 a.m. EDT)

Taxi to the runway is now underway for White Knight as the exotic carrier aircraft with SpaceShipOne mounted to its underside moves closer to takeoff.

1330 GMT (9:30 a.m. EDT)

A beautiful sunrise is greeting the massive crowd at Mojave airport positioned to watch the flight of SpaceShipOne on this 47th anniversary of Sputnik -- the first man-made object launched into space.

1305 GMT (9:05 a.m. EDT)

Rollout of White Knight carrying SpaceShipOne from the duo's hangar occurred a little while ago. They will taxi to the runway later this hour. Takeoff will use the northwest-pointed runway.

1240 GMT (8:40 a.m. EDT)

All systems appear "go" for today's launch of SpaceShipOne. Weather conditions are favorable, sunrise is about an hour away and takeoff is expected around 1400 GMT.

A surprise to many observers of the Rutan project was announced this morning. Brian Binnie will be the pilot for the mission. He'll earn his astronaut wings if the launch successfully reaches the edge of space some 62 miles above Earth. Mike Melvill had served as pilot on the previous two SpaceShipOne flights to space.

A graduate of the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, Binnie has more than 4,600 hours of flying time in 59 different aircraft, including the F/A-18, the A-7E, the White Knight and SpaceShipOne. He holds master's degrees in aeronautical engineering and fluid mechanics and is a veteran of 33 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm.

Binnie was at the controls last December when he made the first supersonic flight in SpaceShipOne. Encountering a roll oscillation during landing, one of the craft's landing gear collapsed.

Melvill flew SpaceShipOne into sub-orbital space during a June test flight and he was at the controls last week for the first of the two X Prize launches. Given his experience dealing with the unexpected roll during that flight, Melvill seemed a natural choice to make the second flight today. Rutan did not immediately explain his choice of pilots.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2004

The second of two flights needed to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize by Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne is scheduled for Monday morning over Mojave, California.

The White Knight carrier aircraft with the SpaceShipOne craft mounted to its belly will taxi to the runway at the Mojave airport for takeoff at 1400 GMT (10 a.m. EDT; 7 a.m. local time), which is shortly after sunrise.

It will take about an hour for White Knight to reach an altitude of nearly 50,000 feet where SpaceShipOne is dropped at 1500 GMT (11 a.m. EDT; 8 a.m. local) to ignite its rocket engine and blast to the fringes of space.

After a powered flight of about 87 seconds, SpaceShipOne will coast up to an altitude in excess of 62 miles then reenter the atmosphere and glide to a landing on the Mojave runway by 1530 GMT (11:30 a.m. EDT; 8:30 a.m. PDT) to complete the brief suborbital trip.

It is widely believed that Mike Melvill will again pilot SpaceShipOne. But official confirmation of that remains a secret.

SpaceShipOne was created by Burt Rutan and funded by Microsoft billionaire Paul G. Allen. Following a dress rehearsal flight in June, the craft performed the first X Prize launch last Wednesday. It must fly above 62 miles twice in two weeks to score the $10 million.

Watch this page for status reports during Monday's mission.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2004

Burt Rutan, designer of SpaceShipOne, said in a website posting Saturday that more than two dozen rolls experienced by pilot Mike Melvill during last week's Ansari X Prize flight occurred in what amounted to a space environment and that the vehicle was never in any danger. Read our full story.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2004

SpaceShipOne pilot Mike Melvill, struggling to regain control after the futuristic-looking craft went into an unexpected roll, shut down the spaceplane's engine 11 seconds early today in the first of two flights aimed at capturing the coveted X Prize. Read our full story.

1848 GMT (2:48 p.m. EDT)

Melvill describes the flight during the press conference:

"It was a comfortable, easy flight. The flight, for me, was great. I came off the hooks (from the White Knight carrier aircraft), started the engine, the engine started up just like clockwork, starting pulling back on the stick, trimming a little bit, and the airplane just went straight up. I couldn't believe how straight it was going. Last time I was all over the sky, and most of that was my own fault. I hate to say that, I actually made a mistake there. I got into it in the yaw-trim system and I got into a PIO (Pilot-Induced Oscillation) and all of that rolling you might have seen on the last flight (in June) was entirely me and not the vehicle.

"This time you didn't see any of that because I figured out the problem and fixed it. So it made a very nice, straight trajectory to the top. Then at the top we got a little bit of rolling motion going but I think it looks good for the crowd if you can roll at the top of the climb," he said prompting laughter in the audience.

"I think we did about 20 turns in roll and there were some pretty high rates there. But Burt has designed a system that allowed me to stop the rates. I turned on the reaction jets and I stopped the rates, brought it to a complete standstill in space. I even had time to pick up a still camera and take some pictures out of the window.

"And then (I) prepared the airplane for the descent and came back in and made a decent landing. And thank heavens for the the good weather. It was great.

"I hope you all enjoyed it. I sure enjoyed the ride."

1848 GMT (2:48 p.m. EDT)

Melvill says the rolling incident should not impact plans for the second of two X Prize launch attempts of SpaceShipOne. That launch is expected Monday.

"This is not going to affect the second attempt at all. The vehicle is ready to go. It won't take us but a day or two to put it together."

1840 GMT (2:40 p.m. EDT)

Melvill is expanding on his comments during a question and answer session of the news conference:

"Part of it is the speed. You are going at a tremendous speed and if you put any kind of a roll into it, it is going to ramp up very fast. But the roll rate was very controllable. I stopped the roll rate just using the normal controls of the airplane.

"I'm not sure what kicked it off. But I'm sure that when we know what it is we will tell everybody what it was. It was probably something that I did. I didn't think it was me last time. But boy when we looked at the data, there it was as big as life.

"So I'm inclined it is something I did. But I never felt uncomfortable.

"And I actually think it helped us," he continued with a smile. "We were spin-stabilized and we managed to keep the trajectory going -- we were perfectly on course. I'm very, very pleased at how it went."

1834 GMT (2:34 p.m. EDT)

Melvill is speaking to the post-flight news conference right now about the unplanned rolling motion.

"I don't think I made a mistake. Bear in mind we haven't be able to look closely at the data. We took a real quick look at and none of us are positive what caused that. It is possible that I stepped on a rudder when I shouldn't have. You get older you can do things like that. We will have to look and see what that was.

"It was at no time any worry for me. I knew the rates could be handled. I was very glad to see that I passed the altitude (62-mile threshold for X Prize) and I waited a little bit longer just to get a little altitude in hand and then I shut (the engine) down 11 seconds early. I had 11 seconds more of burn -- I could have gone to 360,000 feet today -- but I didn't think it was worth taking that kind of risk because we have a second flight to do. It is better to get the altitude, bring it back clean and undamaged."

Read our earlier status center coverage.

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