A blast from the past: Rotary Rocket video

Robin Snelson recently posted on Ustream a video press release from the legendary Rocket Rocket Company, an entrepreneurial RLV developer from the late 1990s:

The 15-minute video from 1998 starts with an animation of the unique flight profile of the company’s Roton SSTO RLV: launch vertically into orbit, deploy its payload, then land vertically using helicopter-like rotors. It then follows with interviews with a number of company officials, many of whom read like a who’s who of NewSpace today: in addition to Rotary founders Gary Hudson and Bevin McKinney, there are cameos by Jeff Greason and Dan DeLong, who went on to found XCOR Aerospace; Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites; and Brian Binnie, a test pilot for Rotary who later flew SpaceShipOne for Scaled.

The video apparently predates the 1999 rollout of the Roton Atmospheric Test Vehicle (ATV) at Mojave Airport. The ATV made a few low-level flight tests using its rotors (powered by tip thrusters), but the company’s financial problems prevented additional test flights as well as the development of additional prototypes. The ATV was destined to go to a helicopter museum near San Diego, but an attempt to airlift the ATV by a Chinook failed. Instead, the ATV is now installed in a small park by the Mojave Air and Space Port headquarters:

Roton ATV in Mojave

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