Test-Rocket Launch at Spaceport America in Mojave Desert

Congratulations to Elon Musk and the Space X team. On August 13, 2013, the Falcon 9 test rig, aka "Grasshopper" flew to an altitude of 250m completed a 100m lateral maeuver and returned to the center of the launch pad. The divert test demonstrated the space vehicle's ability to perform new, more aggressive steering maneuvers.


Controlling the 10-story "Grasshopper" is a big challenge. "Diverts like this are an important part of the trajectory in order to land the rocket precisely back at the launch site after re-entering from space at hyper-sonic velocity," the team said in a statement attached to this raw footage of the Aug. 13th test.

These guys ROCK!

I first met the Space X team at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, just after they won the X Prize in 2004 with SpaceShipOne. The team told an audience of young pilots at the country's top flight school that commercial space travel would become a reality within a few years at their facility in the Mojave desert.


That is when I first heard about Virgin Galactic, an extension of the UK's Virgin Group, owned by flight enthusiast Sir Richard Branson. Virgin unveiled the world's first commercial spaceway in 2010 -- A runway for space craft in the Mojave in New Mexico.

The nearly two-mile long runway at Spaceport America was dedicated to Bill Richardson, who was governor of New Mexico in 2010. 

The Mojave facility in Upham, NM is the historic site where Burt Rutan's White Knight and SpaceShipOne captured the $10 million Ansari X Prize by reaching outer space (100 kilometers) in a privately financed, reusable passenger space craft. The $25 million initial price tag was funded by Microsoft co-founder, Bill Allen.

Test pilot Mike Melvill is photographed atop SpaceShipOne after his Sept. 29, 2004 flight into space. 

Burt Rutan's company, Scaled Composite designed and developed the spacecraft, dubbed "White Knight" that carried SpaceShipOne into outer space. White Knight also carried SpaceShipOne to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. in 2005, where it is permanently on exhibit.

All of the historic flights were made at the Mojave Airport Civil Aviation Test Center, which reclassified itself as the part-time Mojave Spaceport.

On Oct. 22, 2010 Sir Richard Branson and about 30 of the 380 Virgin Galactic future astronauts were present for the Spaceport America Runway dedication. They watched a flyover and landing by Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo, along with guests from around the world, who hope to be on board future flights. The 42-inch thick spaceway is designed to support nearly every type of aircraft in the world today, and anticipated future space travel. 

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