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Wed, Mar 03, 2010

Aero-TV: The Next Horizon – Brian Binnie on Commercial Space Flight

SpaceShipOne Pilot Brian Binnie Reflects on the Future of Private Space Flight

On October 4th, 2004, the X PRIZE Foundation made international headlines when they awarded the Ansari X PRIZE to Scaled Composites for the successful launch of their craft, SpaceShipOne. Inspired by the Orteig Prize, won by Charles Lindbergh in 1927 for the successful completion of the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris, Peter Diamandis formally announced the X PRIZE competition in 1996.

The competition offered the largest incentive prize in history, a stunning $10 million dollar award, to the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft 100 kilometers above the earth’s surface twice within two weeks.

26 different teams representing 7 nations around the world competed for the prize. Finally, on the 47th anniversary of the Sputnik 1 launch, the Tier One Project, led by Scaled Composites’ aerospace designer Burt Rutan and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, successfully completed the second of the two necessary launches.

 Though $10 million dollars was awarded to the team, the 26 participating teams invested more than $100 million dollars in total towards new technologies in pursuit of the prize. Since the success of the Ansari X Prize, more than $1.5 billion dollars has been invested towards the private spaceflight industry.

Piloting the historic second flight was former Navy test pilot Brian Binnie. After graduating from the U.S. Navy’s Test Pilot School, Binnie dedicated over 20 years of Naval Service in the Strike-Fighter community. Through the years, he logged over 4,600 hours in 59 different aircraft. With an educational background including a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and an M.S. in Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics from Brown University, as well as an M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from Princeton University, Binnie proves himself not just as a talented test pilot, but also as an essential component for Burt Rutan and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson as they push ahead with SpaceShipTwo. Join Aero-TV as Brian Binnie reflects on what is to come for the commercial space industry.



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