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SpaceShipOne problems corrected
Posted: Wed, Jul 7, 2004, 7:43 PM ET (2343 GMT)
SpaceShipOne landing on June 21 2004 (J. Foust) Two major problems experienced during last month's suborbital space flight of Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne vehicle have been corrected, Wired News reported Wednesday. In an interview, Burt Rutan said that engineers have solved a problem with a roll trim actuator that SpaceShipOne experienced late in the powered portion of the vehicle's flight. While Rutan said immediately after the June 21 flight that the problem was serious, he downplayed the problem in the Wired interview, saying that the actuator had hit a mechanical stop that limited its movement. Rutan also said that the strong roll the vehicle encountered immediately after starting its rocket engine was caused by wind shear. That wind shear, and not the actuator problem, caused SpaceShipOne to miss its altitude target by nearly 10 kilometers, barely exceeding the 100-kilometer boundary of space. Rutan did not discuss what caused the buckling of a fairing near the vehicle's rocket nozzle during the flight. With the problems now understood and corrected, Rutan said the next SpaceShipOne flight will be the first of two required flights to win the Ansari X Prize. He did not disclose when that flight would take place, but the 60-day notification requirement of the prize suggests it will not be before early September.
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