Burt Rutan’s test pilots have pushed the envelope all the way into space. Meet America’s new astronaut corps—highly skilled, gutsy and ready for takeoff.
By Eric AdamsPosted 11.01.2004 at 6:00 pm 0 Comments
A tiny blue-and-white rocket plane glides 44,000 feet above the Mojave Desert. Test pilot Brian Binnie, wearing a helmet and a navy blue flight suit, is focused on the cockpit’s digital instrument display, stealing only quick glances out the vehicle’s 18 little round windows. With the flip of a switch, he fires the rocket motor, igniting nitrous oxide and rubber. The effect is instantaneous and violent: Binnie gets slammed with four Gs as his craft shoots forward like a Sidewinder missile.
Binnie pilots SpaceShipOne to triumphant finale in Mojave
By Eric AdamsPosted 10.04.2004 at 3:00 pm 0 Comments
Oct. 4, 2004—MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA Scaled Composites test pilot Brian Binnie earned his astronaut wings today after flying Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne nearly flawlessly to a yet-unconfirmed 368,000 feet. Binnie, who hadn’t flown the vehicle since its first powered flight last December—a flight that ended with a hard runway touchdown that broke the landing gear—follows Mike Melvill in the two-flight effort to win the $10-million Ansari X Prize.