Launched: 2004-06-21. Returned: 2004-06-21. Number crew: 1 . Duration: 0.0021 days. Apogee: 100 km (62 mi).
Fourth powered flight of Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne and first flight above 100 km altitude.
Following release from the White Knight mother craft, the spacecraft rolled 90 degrees right and left at motor ignition. Melvill was able to control the aircraft and the problem did not return, so he pressed on. As the motor shut down after 70 seconds of operation, the spacecraft lost trim control. However the backup system (the cold gas reaction controls) allowed Melvill to orient the spacecraft for feathering of the wing and re-entry. The noise and shuddering of the spacecraft during re-entry was unnerving. A loud bang was heard (on landing it was found that the fairing around the engine nozzle had collapsed). Despite not reaching the planned altitude and re-entering 35 km away from the intended point, Melvill recovered control after re-entry and landed at Mojave Airport after a 30 minute flight. He had taken SpaceShipOne just over 100 km, thereby becoming the first private citizen, third person born in Africa, second person born in South Africa, and oldest pilot in command to ever reach outer space.