|STANDARD DATA: Gross wt. 6,800. Empty wt. 2,500. Engine, hybrid rocket motor, 18,000 lbs. of thrust. Initial rate of climb, 198,000 fpm. Max speed Mach 3.3. Landing distance 3,000'.|
Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites built the composite three-seater with a hybrid rocket propulsion system provided by SpaceDev of Poway, California. Hybrid propulsion uses nitrous oxide—also dubbed laughing gas—and HTPB (tire rubber). On October 24, 2004, civilian astronaut Mike Melville piloted SpaceShipOne into history, flying the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000. A few days later, fellow astronaut Brian Binnie repeated the flight into suborbital space claiming the ten million dollar Ansari X-Prize.