SpaceShipOne Was Not Out of Control, Builder and P

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kai_25

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MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA – The frightening spin of SpaceShipOne during its trip into space Wednesday was caused by a known deficiency and at no time led to an out-of-control situation, officials said today.<br /><br />The privately built and financed suborbital vehicle shot to an unofficial altitude record of 63.9 miles (102.9 kilometers) during a flight that had ground controllers and webcast viewers worrying for a few tense moments as the craft went into an unexpected series of rolls.<br /><br />Assuming the altitude is verified, SpaceShipOne is one step away from winning $10 million Ansari X Prize, which will be given to the first team that can send a three-person craft 62 miles (100 kilometers) up within two weeks.<br /><br />A decision on whether to attempt the second flight as early as Sunday will be rendered by late Thursday, officials said during a post-flight press conference.<br /><br />'Kind of cool'<br /><br />Roaring straight up through the sky after release from the White Knight carrier plane, SpaceShipOne began rolling at the top of its flight, with pilot Mike Melvill at the controls.<br /><br />"I didn’t actually have any discomfort," he said. "I thought it was kind of cool." <br /><br />Using the craft’s reaction jets, Melvill was able to tame it for the high-speed plunge back to Earth. He figures he did about 20 turns, some at high rates. <br /><br />"It was a fast roll. And a spectacular view out the window watching the world go around there quickly, Melvill explained. "I even had time to pick up a still camera and take some pictures out of the window."<br /><br />Melvill stressed that the roll rate was very controllable. "I’m not sure what kicked it off," he said. "It probably was something I did." He said that at no time was the control of SpaceShipOne an issue.<br /><br />Change of pilot<br /><br />According to Gregg Maryniak, Executive Director of the X Prize Foundation, radar data from the neighboring Edwards Air Force Base tentatively pegged the craft’s top altitude at
 
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