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SS1 X Prize flights planned for late September
Posted: Fri, Jul 9, 2004, 8:59 AM ET (1259 GMT)
SpaceShipOne landing on June 21 2004 (J. Foust) Scaled Composites plans to fly SpaceShipOne on its Ansari X Prize qualification flights in late September, the pilot of last month's historic flight said last night. In an interview on the MSNBC TV program "Deborah Norville Tonight", pilot Mike Melvill said the SpaceShipOne will perform the required two flights to win the prize "towards the end of September this year." Melvill said that he will "encourage" one of the other two SpaceShipOne test pilots, Brian Binnie and Peter Siebold, to perform those flights, but he will be available "in case they need me." X Prize rules require teams to provide a 60-day advance notice of any qualifying flights, and speculation in recent days suggested that Scaled would make such a notification in the near future. Scaled officials have previously said that they plan to perform three test flights within the two-week period, so that they can still win the prize should the first or second flight fail to qualify. In the interview Melvill also revealed that a banging noise he heard during the flight was caused when a chunk of solid fuel jammed the rocket nozzle for a split-second before the pressure built up and expelled the chunk. "It was something weird we hadn't seen happen with that rocket motor," he said. The interview didn't make clear whether this was related to the buckled fairing seen on the underside of the vehicle near the rocket nozzle.
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