Michael Winston Melvill
November 30, 1940
|Nationality||South African / American|
|Alma mater||Hilton College|
Time in space
|7 mins (roughly estimated)|
|Missions||SpaceShipOne flight 15P, SpaceShipOne flight 16P|
Michael Winston Melvill (born November 30, 1940 in Johannesburg, South Africa) is a world-record-breaking pilot and one of the test pilots for SpaceShipOne, the experimental spaceplane developed by Scaled Composites. Melvill piloted SpaceShipOne on its first flight past the edge of space, flight 15P on June 21, 2004, thus becoming the first commercial astronaut, and the 435th person to go into space. He was also the pilot on SpaceShipOne's flight 16P, the first competitive flight in the Ansari X Prize competition.
In 1978, Melvill met aerospace designer and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan when he flew to California to show Rutan the VariViggen he had built at his home. Rutan then hired him on the spot. In 1982, he was named Rutan's lead test pilot.
In 1997, Melvill and Dick Rutan, Burt's brother, flew two Long-Eze aircraft that they built side-by-side around the world. This "around the world in 80 nights" flight was called The Spirit of EAA Friendship World Tour, and some legs of it lasted for over 14 hours.
Mike Melvill holds FAA Commercial certificate, ASEL, AMEL, instrument airplane, rotorcraft-helicopter, glider and now astronaut.