AOPA President Phil Boyer congratulated the team of SpaceShipOne today for taking their privately funded craft to the edge of space - and back. Launched from a mother ship at 50,000 feet, pilot Mike Melvill ( AOPA 00398639) lit the engine that rocketed the Burt Rutan-designed craft at Mach 3 to an altitude of almost 62 miles.
"This is an incredible accomplishment," said Boyer. "It was only 100 years ago that powered flight began. With the same innovative spirit and drive of the Wright brothers, Burt Rutan and his team have created another historic milestone."
But the beginning of commercial space flight brings with it new challenges for airspace management. "AOPA has been working on the ground floor to help influence how we integrate space vehicles into the National Airspace System without penalizing general aviation access," said Boyer. "One only has to look at the sterilized airspace surrounding a Cape Canaveral launch to understand the impact that a proliferation of commercial launches around the country could have on general aviation. AOPA will continue to work to ensure equitable access by all legitimate users to the nation's airspace."
June 22, 2004