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The Rotary Rocket Company was formed with the concept of designing the first SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) rocket ship. As a launch vehicle with only one stage it would be able to deliver payloads to space at dramatically reduced costs compared to multiple staged vehicles now in use.

The Roton ATV was the first of three proof-of-concept vehicles to be built with the third ship designed to reach space. The Roton ATV was built for the specific purpose to test controlled landing and hover capability. In 1999 three flights were made.

Approximately $30 million were spent to develop the Roton ATV with $5 Million for the hangar bay and $5+ million for the all composite construction of the ATV. It was anticipated the total cost to launch a prototype into space would be $150 million.

The ATV used helicopter rotor blades (Sikorsky S-58) modified to allow blade tip propulsion. Hydrogen peroxide was used as propellant creating thrust through the blade tips. Approximately 5,000 lbs of fuel provided up to 5 minutes of controlled flight.

Scaled Composites worked with Rotary Rocket to develop the Atmospheric Test Vehicle (ATV). This full-scale vehicle incorporated all structure and systems to evaluate the low-speed handling characteristics and autorotative approach and landing tasks for the eventual space vehicle. Scaled was responsible for structural design, tooling, manufacturing, flight controls, system integration, simulator development, and flight test support. The ATV was successfully flown from the Mojave Airport in 1999.




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