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SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History

By John Lester - images & text © 2008

Type: Hardcover, 160pp, ISBN: 076033188X , by Dan Linehan (with forward by Sir Arthur C. Clarke)
MSRP: $34.95 USD (~$35.58 CAN/ 22.65 EUR) available from Zenith Press
Overall Rating: 9+ - a treasure trove of visual reference

SpaceShipOne was the first manned, private venture craft to reach speeds above Mach 2 and Mach 3, the first to exceed 100km altitude (and thus enter "space") and the first privately-funded reuseable (and manned) spaceplane. It won the Ansari X PRIZE after it's 3rd suborbital flight on October 4, 2004. Dan Linehan's new book covers the complete history of the conception, development, testing and operation of SpaceShipOne and it's supporting systems in this lavishly illustrated new book.

What You Get

Inside the hardbound cover are 160 glossy pages, almost all of them with some sort of color photo, diagram or other illustration. After a Foreword by the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke, the book is divided into ten chapters, two appendices, a bibliography and index:
  • Chapter 1: A Secret Space Program. This focuses on the initial concepts and studies done by Scaled Composites, leading to the final designs of the spaceplane and it's delivery system.
  • Chapter 2: The Ansari X Prize Blasts Off. This is a history of the X-Prize and various other competetors to SpaceShipOne.
  • Chapter 3: Flying the Spaceflight Mission. This chapter basically follows a flight, from preparation to touchdown.
  • Chapter 4: SpaceShipOne Construction
  • Chapter 5: SpaceShipOne Rocket-Engine Design
  • Chapter 6: SpaceShipOne Instruments and Controls
  • Chapter 7: Test Flights Begin. Ground- and flight- testing White Knight and SpaceShipOne.
  • Chapter 8: Rockets Ignite. Powered flight testing and the problems encountered.
  • Chapter 9: Capturing the Ansari X-Prize
  • Chapter 10: Science Fiction to Science Fact. After the prize - including development of SpaceShipTwo and SpaceShipThree.

Mr Linehan presents his information clearly and concisely, and avoids getting bogged down in technical jargon. Interspersed with the text are over 230 pictures and diagrams, mostly in color, plusn exerpts from flight and test logs. The pictures provide great reference for model builders, covering all teh major components and flight configurations of the White Knight/SpaceShipOne combo. Two appendicies at the back provide summaries of each flight's data and a list of chase plane crews.


As a general reference, it's a great book, and makes for some fascinating reading. The pictures alone are worth the price of admission. Very highly recommended!

Many thanks to the folks at Zenith Press for the review sample.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2008 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 4 June 2008.