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SpacePlaneOne - "The Unicorn" | by vynsane
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SpacePlaneOne - "The Unicorn"

Dateline, Spaceport America, October 4, 2024

 

On the 20th anniversary of the Ansari X Prize-winning flight of SpaceShipOne, and the 67th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic have achieved one of the most elusive accomplishments ever - the development and successful orbital flight of a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) vehicle.

 

Derisively referred to as "The Unicorn" by project detractors due to the near-mythically elusive nature of a successful SSTO craft, the monicker was eventually used as the unofficial name of the craft, also known as SpacePlaneOne. Unlike its predecessors, SpacePlaneOne needs no mothership to carry it through atmospheric flight to the edge of space. Thanks to the newly-developed Variable Cycle Engine technology it employs, the craft can take off like any conventional airplane, powered by standard turbojet thrust at sub-sonic speeds, transferring to ramjet thrust during transonic speed, cycling through to scramjet thrust above the sound barrier and finally to full rocket-powered thrust outside of the atmosphere.

 

After successfully breaking the boundary to space as its predecessors SpaceShipOne through SpaceShipTen have so many times before, SpacePlaneOne made three orbits before docking with the International Space Station to prove its capabilities in that area, then returned to the atmosphere and powered flight via the unique and innovative "feathered re-entry" system featured on all previous SpaceShip designs.

 

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For Toys N Bricks "The Next Generation of Space Travel" contest.

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Taken on July 28, 2011