Making its way through the geek blogs of the world, Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites had another successful test of SpaceShip One. But to me, the really interesting news was in the flight data…
Launch conditions were 46,000 feet and 120 knots. Motor light off occurred 10 seconds after release and the vehicle boosted smoothly to 150,000 feet and Mach 2.5. Subsequent coast to apogee of 211,400 feet. During a portion of the boost, the flight director display was inoperative, however the pilot continued the planned trajectory referencing the external horizon. Reaction control authority was as predicted and the vehicle recovered in feather experiencing 1.9M and 3.5G’s. Feather oscillations were actively damped by the pilot and the wing was de-feathered starting at 55,000 feet. The onboard avionics was re-booted and a smooth and uneventful landing made to Mojave.
So he had a major avionics failure, rebooted during descent, and then made a safe landing? No offense, if this was NASA, that guy would be toast. This is why NASA runs five computers on the shuttle, in case there is a failure, one can take over immediately. Damn impressive if you ask me….