Mojave - December 3, 1998 — Rotary Rocket successfully tested its "whirl tower" during rotor ground tests in early November. The whirl tower is being used to ground test and qualify the rotor landing system for the Roton piloted space vehicle.
During the tests the acceleration was described as good and the pilot "flew" the four-bladed rotor with the cyclic and pronounced it controllable and responsive up to its automatic shut-down limit, preset for the initial test at 75 rpm.
Subsequent tests will exercise the rotor system throughout its planned operational range. All 4 tip thrusters functioned nominally throughout the test. Each tip thruster, fueled by hydrogen peroxide, is continuously throttleable up to a maximum thrust of 350 lbf.
The tip thrusters will be used to speed-up the rotor just before landing. This will enable the Roton to come to a complete stop before gently touching down. The tip thrusters have been put through an extensive static qualification program before being mounted on the rotor.
Rotary Rocket Company’s Roton piloted space vehicle will have a crew of two and will serve the LEO telecommunications satellite market, a more than $10 billion market, at a fraction of the price of existing commercial rockets. The Roton uses the latest technology comprising advanced composite fuel tanks, innovative engines and streamlined operations—technology that will enable a dozen or so ground crew to prepare the Roton for reflight in a few days or less.
The first Roton, the Atmospheric Test Vehicle or ATV, is now being assembled at the company’s Mojave desert facilities outside of Los Angeles. Parts are undergoing dynamic testing on whirl stands and engine components have completed firing tests. The primary contractor on the Roton project is Scaled Composites, founded by aviation legend Burt Rutan, who designed the first round-the-world aircraft Voyager that now hangs in the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
The Roton ATV is scheduled to fly in the second quarter of 1999 from Mojave, carrying out low-altitude approach and landing exercises to demonstrate the free-spinning landing rotor. The Roton will enter commercial service in 2000 as the first piloted spacecraft ever created entirely by private funds. Mr. Hudson and his 150-member team share the vision of eventually opening space travel to everyone.
Rotary Rocket Company is developer of the Roton™ fully reusable, single-stage-to-orbit, piloted space vehicle, designed to provide low cost deliveries of commercial satellites to low earth orbit (LEO). A total of over 200 people are working towards bringing the Roton into commercial service in the year 2000. Rotary Rocket Company has offices in Redwood City, California, Mojave, California and Washington D.C.
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