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SpaceShipOne pilot Melvill to speak at AOPA Expo

SpaceShipOne pilot Mike Melvill, a 35-year AOPA member, will be the featured speaker at the AOPA Expo opening luncheon October 21 in Long Beach, California, AOPA announced today.

"We congratulate Mike and the entire SpaceShipOne team on winning the Ansari X Prize," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "We know that everyone attending Expo is excited to hear Mike tell us more about his astronaut experiences."

Melvill will present and narrate a special video of the space flights and take questions from the Expo audience.

"My wife and I are really looking forward to attending the AOPA convention this year," said Melvill.

Mike Melvill is vice president/general manager and a test pilot for Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites, LLC, based in Mojave, California. He has some 7,000 hours in 123 types of fixed-wing aircraft, 11 types of rotary-wing aircraft, and one spacecraft. He became the first person to pilot a general aviation craft into space on June 21 as he guided SpaceShipOne to an altitude of nearly 62 miles above the earth on its maiden space flight.

SpaceShipOne wins X Prize

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Aboard SpaceShipOne, test pilot Brian Binnie waves to the crowd before takeoff under the mothership, White Knight (photo by Steve Ells/ AOPA Pilot).
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Above: SpaceShipOne pilots Mike Melvill (left) and Brian Binnie. Below: FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation Patricia Grace Smith, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, and Virgin Atlantic President Richard Branson watch the launch of SpaceShipOne. Blakey will also be a featured speaker at AOPA Expo (photos by Jim Campbell, Aero-News Network, all rights reserved).
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Just as the sun peaked over the horizon, SpaceShipOne, attached to its mothership, lifted off from California's Mojave Spaceport on Monday. After a steady climb, test pilot Brian Binnie released from the mothership at about 46,000 feet. Burning a combination of laughing gas and rubber, Binnie flew what appeared to be a flawless mission, reserving him a spot in history and taking the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

Radar at Edwards Air Force Base showed that he reached about 364,000 feet, far beyond the 328,000 feet needed to win the prize. Designed by Burt Rutan, SpaceShipOne was required to make two successful space flights within a two-week period under the terms of the award. Last week, Mike Melvill flew the first of the two successful space flights then handed it over to Binnie to share the limelight.

The October 4 date was picked to give the crew room to make a third flight, if needed, within the two-week window. But it also marked the 47-year anniversary of the Soviet Union's launching of Sputnik I, the official starting point of the space age.

Melvill, a 35-year AOPA member, will be the featured speaker at the AOPA Expo opening luncheon on October 21 in Long Beach, California. He'll narrate an exciting 17-minute video of his suborbital adventures and take questions.

History in the making: A special feature for AOPA members. Listen to Melvill, Binnie, and Rutan, among others, over the radio during SpaceShipOne's second X Prize flight. You can hear the radio communications for prelaunch, launch, reentry, final glide, and landing. The audio files were edited by freelance journalist Jason Paur. Some files were compressed while the launch and landing sequences are in real time.

Update: October 5, 2004

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