|Born||April 26, 1953|
West Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||September 15, 2022(aged 69)|
|Resting place||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Rank||Commander, United States Navy|
Time in space
|Missions||SpaceShipOne flight 17P|
William Brian Binnie (April 26, 1953 – September 15, 2022) was a United States Navy officer and one of the test pilots for SpaceShipOne, the experimental spaceplane developed by Scaled Composites and flown from 2003 to 2004.
Binnie was born in West Lafayette, Indiana, on April 26, 1953, where his Scottish father William P. Binnie was a professor of physics at Purdue University. The family returned to Scotland when Binnie was five, and lived in Aberdeen (his father taught at Aberdeen University) and later in Stirling. When Binnie was a teenager the family moved to Boston.
Binnie earned a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from Brown University. He earned a master's degree from Brown in fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. Binnie was rejected by the United States Air Force, and enrolled at Princeton University, where he earned a master's degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering He served for 21 years in the United States Navy as a naval aviator, reaching the rank of commander. He flew the A-7 Corsair II, A-6 Intruder, F/A-18 Hornet, and AV-8B Harrier II. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 1988. Binnie also copiloted the Atmospheric Test Vehicle of the Rotary Rocket. In 2006, he received an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen.
SpaceShipOne and spaceflight
On December 17, 2003, the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first powered flight, Binnie piloted the first powered test flight of SpaceShipOne, flight 11P, which reached a top speed of Mach 1.2 and a height of 12.9 miles (20.7 km). On October 4, 2004, he piloted SpaceShipOne's second Ansari X Prize flight, flight 17P, winning the X Prize and becoming the 436th person to go into space. His flight, which peaked at 367,442 feet (69.6 mi; 112.0 km), set a winged aircraft altitude record for suborbital flights, breaking the old record set by the North American X-15 in 1963. It also earned him the second Astronaut Badge to be given by the FAA for a flight aboard a privately operated commercial spacecraft.
Binnie died on September 15, 2022, at age 69.
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