Rotary Rocket: Roton ATV rollout
The Roton Atmospheric Test Vehicle was officially "rolled out" to the public on March 1st, 1999 in Mojave California. Speeches were given by Rick N Tumlinson of Rotary Rocket Company, Tom Clancy, author and one of the project funders, Patricia G. Smith, Associate Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial space transportation, and Dr. Daniel Mulville, chief engineer of NASA, and last but not least Gary Hunt, the visionary behind this and several other private launch projects and one of the designers of the Roton. Winds gusting to fifty miles an hour almost blew away the speakers and meant that the Roton ATV could only make a brief appearance outside of its hanger.
Rick Tumlinson opened with a vison piece touching on the approach and community of people devoting their lives to opening the pathway for private commercial access to space. Here is a short excerpt from Rick's speech:"The opening of space... is about dreams, about people who have dreams.. the dream that was written about by Heinlein, Clark, O'Neill and others"
Tom Clancy gave a stirring speech while wearing a 19th century train engineer's cap, symbolic of the new private operators of vehicles to our near frontiers.
Ms. Smith spoke of the FAA' suppport of the test program for the Roton ATV and other projects and how the FAA was in the process of granting Rotary Rocket the first experimental license to test the vehicle both to orbit and return (a process only approved by Congress in December).
Dr. Daniel Mulville spoke of NASA's desire to use private vehicles like the Roton and the Agency's desire to get out of the launch business altogether.
Gary Hunt finsihed by sharing the credit (often given solely to him) with the whole team, the financiers and the many subcontractors including Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites.
The vehicle was then rolled out to the tune of "Fanfare for the Common Man" (Aaron Copland) and crowds gathered around the vehicle for photo ops and to get close to the vehicle. It all felt so unlike any kind of government operation. There was nobody there to say "please dont touch".
If you want to hear these speaches in total, play back the webcast stream.
Pictures of the Rollout
(click on images for larger views, if you would like to use any of these images, please contact me)
Tom Clancy in his 19th Century Railway Engineer's hat
speaking over a 50 mile per hour wind
"Fanfare for the Common Man" plays
Crew comparment visible
Roton is visible in full body
The rotors just slip through the assembly building doors
The crowd assembles around the Roton ATV
The Roton is rolled back in
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