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San Diego, CA -
While all the other so-called more reputable news agencies continue to report on the delays in resumption of the U.S. Space Shuttle program, TheRealTruth has learned that there is a new entry into the space shuttle derby. It's name is SpaceShipOne, and it is the X-Prize entry of Scaled Composites, a Mojave, CA firm underwritten by multi-billionaire Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.

For those of you who have not heard, the X-Prize is a $10 million prize offered in 1996 by an international consortium of aerospace companies. It will go to the first privately funded, non-governmental agency that launches a three person craft into space twice in two weeks. For purposes of the X-Prize, "space" is defined as an altitude above 100 kilometers.

SpaceShipOne and its mothership White Knight were first shown to the public last April. Since that time it has undergone extensive tests. In its latest test flight SpaceShipOne reached an altitude of 50 kilometers and a speed of nearly three times the speed of sound. Following that test last month, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) granted Scaled Composites a license for sub-orbital flight.

SpaceShipOne is a rocket plane that uses a hybrid rocket motor. It is dropped by White Knight at an altitude of 15 km, begins its ascent using a pair of solid fuel boosters, then switches to a liquid fuel engine. Like the Space Shuttle, it then returns to earth without power and glides to a landing on a Mojave Desert runway.

According to a source inside Scaled Composites who wishes to remain anonymous, the company plans to attempt its first suborbital flight carrying a pilot and two passengers in mid September. If it succeeds, it will follow up the first flight two weeks later with a second flight and claim the X-Prize sometime before the end of September. Despite speculation to the contrary, Paul Allen will not be one of the passengers during these early flights, although he may ride along on a later flight.


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