|[June 15, 2004]
Gentex Corp. to Equip Pilots for Upcoming Private Space Flight
CARBONDALE, Pa. --(Business Wire)-- June 15, 2004 -- Gentex Corporation has provided its most advanced lightweight flight helmets and oxygen masks for the aircrew of the world's first private-sector, sub-orbital space flight scheduled for June 21. The equipment was specified by Scaled Composites, LLC, a California-based aerospace company founded by Burt Rutan, who designed the spacecraft. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, is funding the project.
Rutan's prototype SpaceShipOne will be launched from the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center, a commercial airport in the California desert, and is expected to reach an altitude of 60 miles. In a test flight last month, it was the first privately funded spacecraft to reach a record altitude of 40 miles.
"We could not do this project without the support from Gentex," said Brian Binnie, program manager and pilot. "The new helmets and masks are leaps and bounds above what we were using before, and the most comfortable I've ever worn."
The SpaceShipOne project team is competing for a $10 million prize that will be awarded to the first team to build, without government support, a spacecraft that can take three people to at least 365,000 feet and repeat the flight two weeks later using at least 80 percent of the same hardware. The project will employ a White Knight carrier aircraft that will take SpaceShipOne to an altitude of about 50,000 feet, where the spacecraft will be released and fire a rocket engine to climb to the edge of space.
The Gentex helmets and masks will be used on both the White Knight and SpaceShipOne.
"That Gentex was selected to provide mission-critical equipment for this historic flight is testimony to our capabilities in developing and producing helmet and respiratory systems that can withstand the most demanding environments," said Gentex President Peter Frieder. "We wish the team at Scaled Composites every success in this landmark venture."
Gentex is the major supplier of high performance helmet systems for military pilots who frequently undergo stresses of up to nine Gs. The company works closely with major airframe and electronics manufacturers as well as government development agencies to create advanced life support equipment. In addition, the company is the leading supplier of high-altitude oxygen breathing equipment for military aircraft of the U.S. and many other nations.
For further information, contact Kenneth Lee, Director of External Affairs, Gentex Corporation, P.O. Box 315, Carbondale, PA 18407-0315; phone: 570-282-8209; fax:570-282-8555; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.gentexcorp.com.
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