Space Access Update #85  6/18/99 
               Copyright 1999 by Space Access Society 

Stories This Issue:

 - Rotary Rocket Layoffs, Reorganization 

 - NASA Now Faces Significant FY'00 Cuts 

                         Rotary Rocket News 

This just in - Rotary Rocket Company, of Redwood City and Mojave 
California, is laying off a large part of their current staff due to 
lack of timely additional investment.  Rotary is approximately $30 
million into an overall $150 million program to build, test, and 
operate commercially the Roton medium-lift reusable launch vehicle. 
We understand that Rotary will retain a small core staff and will 
continue preparing their ATV (Aerial Test Vehicle, a systems, 
airframe, and landing-mode demonstrator) for its first test flight, 
pending reorganization of the company. 

[Editorial] We cannot say for certain that recent NASA public 
positions implicitly and explicitly advising against investment in 
Rotary and other reusable launch startups were directly responsible 
for this turn of events.  But they sure didn't help - and NASA's 
silence even after we contacted the Administrator's press secretary 
back in May, about the New Scientist story slamming the startups 
( is 

To expand on that specific instance, the New Scientist quote, about 
the startups depending on "system gimmicks" to cover for their 
"unbelieveable lack of technology" (see SAU #84 for our rebuttal) in 
the context of a story on a possible Richard Branson investment on 
Rotary, looks to us far too likely to have been a factor in 
Branson's presumed non-invest decision. 

To amplify and emphasize what we said in SAU #84: We demand an 
unambiguous repudiation of the totally unacceptable anti-RLV startup 
investment advice voiced in the May 8th New Scientist article. 

We also demand that NASA state clearly that it supports the low-cost 
launch startups, and that it will contract for their services to 
accomplish NASA missions as appropriate, as soon as those services 
are available on a regular commercial basis. 

                     NASA Budget Cuts Now Likely 

In other news just in, for a variety of arcane political reasons, 
the Senate and House NASA Appropriators both now look likely to 
stick with the deficit-deal budget caps this year after all - this 
will mean something on the order of a $1 billion cut in NASA's 
budget for the coming year, rather than the moderate increases 
everyone had anticipated.  The Senate markups are supposed to start 
the week after next.  

[Editorial] We will have to think long and hard over the next few 
days on what we will fight for, and what we won't. 

Space Access Society's sole purpose is to promote radical reductions 
in the cost of reaching space.  You may redistribute this Update in 
any medium you choose, as long as you do it unedited in its entirety.

 Space Access Society 

 "Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System" 
                                        - Robert A. Heinlein