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SpaceShipOne completes fourth drop test
Posted: Mon, Oct 27, 2003, 6:51 PM ET (2351 GMT)
SpaceShipOne first glide test (Scaled) SpaceShipOne (SS1), a suborbital RLV being developed by Scaled Composites, successfully completed its fourth unpowered drop test earlier this month, correcting a problem noticed in a drop test last month. The test took place October 17 in the skies above Mojave, California, as SS1 was released from its White Knight carrier aircraft at an altitude of 14,100 meters. According to the flight report on Scaled's web site, SS1 did not experience any problems with unexpected pitching up of the vehicle's nose; such a problem was experienced on the last glide test last month, causing the vehicle to briefly enter a roll until the pilot stabilized the vehicle. Scaled credited the improved performance to a series of ground tests performed with an impromptu wind tunnel: a pickup truck with the SS1 tail assembly mounted on it. Those tests were used to implement a number of aerodynamic fixes to the vehicle to correct the pitching problem. No problems were reported during the October 17 glide test, which also included a check of the rocket motor controller on the vehicle.
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