Rutan, Allen and SpaceShipOne Team, and Piasecki are Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Trophy Winners

Press Release
Wednesday March 9, 2005
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Peter Golkin 202-633-2374
Walton Ferrell 202-633-2373
Public information: 202-633-1000

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The National Air and Space Museum Trophy, the museum's highest honor, has been awarded this year to the designer, the sole sponsor and the team responsible for the breakthrough aircraft/spacecraft SpaceShipOne, and to vertical flight pioneer Frank N. Piasecki. Burt Rutan, Paul G. Allen and the SpaceShipOne team are honored in the category of Current Achievement and Piasecki in the category of Lifetime Achievement.

The 2005 winners received their awards at a private ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum building in Washington on March 9. Established in 1985, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in scientific or technological endeavors relating to air and space technology and exploration. As in past years, trophy winners received a miniature version of "The Web of Space," a sculpture by artist John Safer.

For more information on the National Air and Space Museum Trophy and other awards in the museum's collections, visit

The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va. near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (Closed Dec. 25) Admission is free but there is a $12 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Shuttle bus service runs between the facilities with a roundtrip ticket costing $12. (Group discounts are available)

The 2005 National Air and Space Museum Trophy event was made possible through the generous support of Lockheed Martin Corp.

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Burt Rutan, Paul G. Allen, and the SpaceShipOne Team

Burt Rutan, Paul G. Allen, and the SpaceShipOne Team are honored for creating and flying the first privately developed reusable spacecraft.

Ingenious. Tireless. Masterful. Aerospace engineer and entrepreneur Burt Rutan turns ideas into winged vehicles that soar, take powered flight, and now rocket into space, safely returning to land under a pilot's control. Of the scores of flying craft he has designed, SpaceShipOne is his most innovative engineering feat yet. Launched from its White Knight mothership, powered in ascent by a hybrid rocket engine, feathering its wings for the suborbital period in weightlessness and initial descent, and finally returning as a nimble glider, SpaceShipOne elegantly solves the equations for roundtrip space travel.

Visionary. Generous. Committed. Like Burt Rutan, entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul G. Allen believes that people should be able to fly into space readily and affordably. To make commercial spaceflight possible, he funded research and development of the SpaceShipOne project as a start-up private space program. By assuming the risks of an experimental project and collaborating with a world-class technical team, he focused the power of private enterprise as a force to shape the future.

The SpaceShipOne Team, especially the talented staff of Rutan's company Scaled Composites and Paul Allen's company Vulcan Inc., has achieved a major milestone in space history: the first piloted flights in a privately developed spacecraft. Innovations from the SpaceShipOne program are making breakthroughs for safety that will allow commercial flight operations for public access to space. Among the achievements are designing a small, lightweight craft for both sonic and supersonic flight; mastering the aerodynamics and flight controls for those different regimes; using the feathered wing as a brake to provide a "care-free" reentry; innovating with composite materials and a hybrid rocket engine; keeping the vehicle design simple, robust, and economical; and navigating the regulatory challenges for commercial, piloted launches into space. They demonstrate how essential teamwork is to successful spaceflight.

Inspired by a shared vision of space travel, enabled by the first launch license for a privately developed spacecraft, rewarded with the Ansari X-Prize for repeated spaceflights to stimulate space tourism--Burt Rutan, Paul G. Allen, and the SpaceShipOne Team are pioneering the way toward commercial space travel.

June 21, 2004    Mike Melvill pilots SpaceShipOne past 62 miles (100 km) altitude into space
Sept. 29, 2004   Mike Melvill pilots SpaceShipOne to 64 miles (102 km)
Oct. 4, 2004     Brian Binnie pilots SpaceShipOne to 70 miles (112 km)


Frank N. Piasecki

Frank N. Piasecki is honored for a lifetime dedicated to innovation in vertical flight.

In 1940, Frank N. Piasecki began his helicopter design career working on the Army Air Corp's first contracted helicopter, the Platt-LePage XR-1. He concurrently founded his own helicopter research firm, the P-V Engineering Forum, which in 1943 became the second company in the United States to fly a helicopter--the diminutive but innovative PV-2. Piasecki was not only chief designer of the aircraft but also its test pilot, all the more remarkable as he had only 14 hours of previous flight time (all in a Piper Cub). In a feat of heroic salesmanship, Piasecki flew the PV-2 before a Pentagon audience, having had only fifteen hours in the aircraft. Just prior to the demonstration, Piasecki received the first helicopter license ever awarded by the Civil Aeronautics Authority.

The Navy then awarded the P-V Engineering Forum the first naval helicopter development contract. Piasecki had noticed that the ungainly XR-1, with its side-by-side rotors, flew better sideways than forward, so he designed a tandem rotor helicopter designated as the XHRP-X. With its first flight in March 1945, it exceeded all expectations and was the first helicopter to carry a significant payload safely and efficiently. This milestone spurred a race for innovation in the industry, keeping America in the forefront of rotary-wing development.

After World War II, the Piasecki Helicopter Corp. provided pioneering military helicopter designs to the United States and its allies, including the remarkable HRP, HUP and H-21 series, which pushed the limits for helicopter capacity and speed. In 1955, Piasecki started a new company to develop Vertical Takeoff and Landing Aircraft, including the remarkable VZ-8 flying jeep and the Pathfinder winged helicopter. He continues to develop the latter concept as president and chairman of the Piasecki Aircraft Corp.

The National Air and Space Museum possesses Piasecki's first three helicopter efforts. The PV-2 is currently on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center while the Platt LePage XR-1 and the XHRP-X await restoration.


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