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Ecliptic's RocketCam™ Integral to Private Suborbital Venture

2004 May 13

Note: The following is the text of a news release issued by Ecliptic on the day of the third rocket-powered flight of the SpaceShipOne experimental suborbital vehicle.

***

(Pasadena, CA — May 13) As flight testing of the privately developed suborbital SpaceShipOne vehicle continues and anticipation builds for its expected run at the $10 million X PRIZE this year, Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation marks over twenty-two months of support to the pioneering program as principal supplier of onboard video systems for the rocket-powered SpaceShipOne and its dual turbojet-powered launch aircraft, White Knight.

This novel aerospace system for enabling private human suborbital access to space was designed and built by Scaled Composites of Mojave, California, starting with initial concept definition in 1995. The firm also conducts the system's flight test program for sponsor Paul Allen, who is funding the program via his multi-faceted holding company, Vulcan, Inc.

Today marks the third rocket-powered test flight for SpaceShipOne, following the first on December 17 last year and second on April 8.

Ecliptic, supplier of the popular RocketCam™ line of onboard video systems used on rockets, spacecraft and other remote platforms, was first placed on contract by Scaled in July 2002 to supply the onboard video system for White Knight, a week before its first flight. A similar SpaceShipOne contract started in April 2003, a week before the public rollout of the then-secret suborbital system.

Routine recording of multiple video streams on board White Knight started in November 2002 (its 15th flight) and on board SpaceShipOne in July 2003 (its first piloted captive-carry flight). Starting with its first glide flight in August 2003, live RocketCam transmissions from SpaceShipOne began. Reception and recording of the downlinked video occurs at Scaled's flight control room in Mojave, above the hangar where the two vehicles were built and are based.

Ecliptic designed the end-to-end video system and supplied most onboard and all ground-based equipment to enable the desired capabilities.

To facilitate pilot training and flight skill competency, Scaled designed the White Knight and SpaceShipOne cockpits to be virtually identical. Nearly identical interior video systems are used on both vehicles to capture desired cockpit activities, while various exterior cameras are used to support other situational awareness and test objectives. To date, cameras have been placed on the top of White Knight's fuselage looking aft, on the top of SpaceShipOne's fuselage looking aft and in two orientations in SpaceShipOne's unique twin tail assembly.

Sample onboard camera views from this ongoing development and test program are available at www.scaled.com (select "Featured project: SpaceShipOne" and then "Photos").

Scaled's engineers and pilots rely on the various camera views – live during the flights and recorded for post-flight assessment – for enhancing situational awareness, monitoring progress during each flight and for post-flight lessons learned.

Special emphasis has been placed so far on viewing cockpit activities in each aircraft, White Knight turbojet engine operations, and various critical SpaceShipOne activities such as the drop sequence, landing operations, tail feathering sequence, rocket motor cold flow tests and rocket motor firing sequence.

"Ecliptic's RocketCam capability is a great feature for both vehicles," said Brian Binnie, Scaled's pilot for SpaceShipOne's first rocket motor-powered flight conducted on December 17, on the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight. Binnie's flight marked the first time a privately developed vehicle achieved supersonic speed. "Not only is it helpful from a flight safety standpoint, it has also proven to be a great training tool, allowing us to evaluate cockpit procedures and workload throughout the mission envelope."

Since 1997, Ecliptic's rugged RocketCam systems have been used successfully on 30 rocket launches–including Boeing Delta II, Delta III and Delta IV rockets; Lockheed Martin Atlas 2, Atlas 3 and Atlas 5 models; Lockheed Martin Titan IV; and NASA's Space Shuttle External Tank. Dramatic highlights from these launches may be viewed at http://www.eclipticenterprises.com/gallery_rocketcam.php.

A record number of launches with RocketCam occurred in 2003, and many more are expected in 2004, including RocketCam debuts on the Delta IV Heavy and Minotaur rockets and launch of the first mission involving a RocketCam-outfitted spacecraft in Earth orbit. RocketCam systems will also be employed later this year on projects involving high-altitude balloons, experimental aircraft, test facilities, marine vehicles and other platforms.

About Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation: Ecliptic provides systems for accessing and experiencing space and other extreme environments. Its technical staff has a broad range of direct experience on over 55 space missions, including several recent deep-space missions and numerous low-cost missions involving small satellites. The privately held firm's core competencies include space systems engineering, aerospace avionics, instrument systems and aerospace telecommunications. Its popular RocketCam™ product line is dominant in the space arena and is also used on a variety of host platforms in the air, land and sea arenas. See more at www.eclipticenterprises.com.

RocketCam™ is a trademark of Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation.

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