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Brian Binnie, SpaceShipOne take a look at pilot who received XPRIZE, dies at 69

September 19, 2022

— Brian Binnie, who in 2004 grew to become the second particular person in historical past to pilot a personal craft into house, has died on the age of 69.

Binnie’s dying on Thursday (Sept. 15) was confirmed by his household on Sunday. The reason for dying was not acknowledged.

“With overwhelming grief, unhappiness and sorrow we announce the passing of our beloved Brian,” his members of the family posted on Binnie’s Fb web page. “We kindly ask for privateness throughout this time for our household to grieve the lack of our husband, father, brother and buddy.”

Preparations are being made for Binnie to be laid to relaxation at Arlington Nationwide Cemetery in Virginia.

As a take a look at pilot for Scaled Composites, the aerospace design agency based by Burt Rutan (and right this moment owned by Northrop Grumman), Binnie took off on board the SpaceShipOne rocket aircraft on Oct. 4, 2004. His 24-minute flight reached a peak altitude of 69.6 miles (112 km), surpassing the internationally-recognized von Kármán line separating Earth’s ambiance from outer house and broke the report for a winged-craft set by the X-15 rocket aircraft in 1963.

Binnie was the 442nd particular person to fly into house.

“Folks known as it the proper flight. In leaving the ambiance, as I stored the motor working to 215,000 toes, the ship had zero roll, pitch [and] yaw charges. It was rock stable and continued on up previous the X-15 altitude,” Binnie advised in 2021 interview. “It was a beautiful expertise.”

The flight certified Scaled to win the Ansari XPRIZE, which supplied $10 million to the primary privately-built spacecraft to fly twice into house inside a two-week interval. Binnie’s flight adopted take a look at pilot Mike Melvill flying the identical automobile to 63.9 miles (102.9 km) on Oct. 29. (Binnie flew the WhiteKnight mothership for that flight.)

Binnie was the final to fly SpaceShipOne, which was donated to the Smithsonian for show on the Nationwide Air and Area Museum in Washington, DC The automobile grew to become the idea for Virgin Galactic’s bigger SpaceShipTwo, which is designed to fly two pilots and as much as six paying passengers to house.

“I do not see any single-seat spaceships within the close to future. So perhaps I’m the final man that has gone to house by himself,” stated Binnie.

William Brian Binnie was born on April 26, 1953, in West Lafayette, Indiana. From age 5 to his teenage years, although, he lived along with his household in Scotland. After returning to the US, he earned his bachelor’s diploma in aerospace engineering and a grasp’s in fluid mechanics and thermodynamics from Brown College in Rhode Island.

Binnie additionally held a grasp’s diploma in mechanical and aerospace engineering, which he earned at Princeton College in New Jersey. It was there that Binnie realized the best way to fly, first aboard a glider as a member of the varsity’s Hovering Society after which testing experimental designs as a pupil in Princeton’s flight analysis heart.

That have led him to enlist within the US Navy in 1978. Binnie accomplished 5 operational excursions, which included 490 arrested landings on plane carriers, in addition to seeing fight as a part of operations Desert Defend, Desert Storm and Southern Watch.

He graduated from the US Naval Take a look at Pilot Faculty in 1988 and served for 13 years as a naval aviator, testing programs for the A-7 Corsair II, A-6 Intruder and the F/A-18 Hornet.

He retired from the Navy with the rank of commander in 1998, having logged greater than 4,300 flight hours.

Earlier than becoming a member of Scaled in 2000, Binnie labored as a take a look at pilot for Rotary Rocket, proving that the corporate’s Roton vertical take off and touchdown automobile may return to Earth underneath spinning rotors.

“We did what we stated we had been going to do… show management of the automobile within the touchdown sample,” Binnie advised

Previous to his flight into house, Binnie flew SpaceShipOne twice, together with its first powered flight on Dec. 17, 2003, the one hundredth anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first powered flight. He additionally flew on WhiteKnight on 12 joint flights with SpaceShipOne.

After leaving Scaled in 2014, Binnie joined XCOR Aerospace as senior engineer and take a look at pilot, becoming a member of former NASA astronaut Rick Searfoss within the improvement of the corporate’s household of Lynx suborbital automobiles.

For his 2004 suborbital spaceflight, Binnie was awarded Civilian Astronaut Wings by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and was honored by the Gathering of Eagles Basis. As a member of the workforce behind SpaceShipOne, Binnie was offered with the Area Achievement Award by the Area Basis and was a recipient of the Nationwide Aeronautic Affiliation’s Robert J. Collier Trophy.

In 2006, Binnie appeared in a sequence of tv commercials for Miller Lite beer, showing as a part of the “historical order of males” as described by actor and narrator Burt Reynolds. In 2009, Binnie grew to become a model ambassador for Ball Watches.

In 2021, Binnie self-published “The Magic and Menace of SpaceShipOne: A First-Individual Historical past of the World’s First Business Spaceflights,” recounting in additional than 400 pages his expertise with the XPRIZE-winning spacecraft.

Binnie is survived by his spouse, Bub, and their three kids, Justin, Jonathan and Jennifer.

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