Space Access Update #88  7/24/99 
               Copyright 1999 by Space Access Society 

Stories This Issue:

 - Latest on Congressional NASA, DOD RLV Funding 

 - Rotary Rocket Flies ATV, Does Second Round of Layoffs 

 - Miscellany - USA Sponsored Shuttle Forever Symposium, New US 
   Defense Space Policy, SAS Needs Money! 

            Latest on Congressional NASA, DOD RLV Funding 

Our current alert (see 
asks you to contact any members of the House or Senate 
Appropriations committees local to you, and ask them to A: add $50 
million to NASA Future-X for reusable rocket low-cost flight ops 
demonstrations, and B: as a matter of priorities, do NOT fund 
startup of the premature and oversold "Spaceliner 100" airbreathing 
launcher project. 

The Senate NASA appropriators (the HUD, VA, and Independent Agencies 
subcommittee, then the full Appropriations committee) were scheduled 
to "mark up" their NASA funding bill last week, but they once again 
postponed.  Keep after them, but save the phone charges and use 
paper mail - all they'll say about when they will actually do markup 
is "before the August recess", which starts August 6th.  That 
narrows things down to either this coming week, or the week after, 
and we'd guess at the current pace the week after (starting Monday 
August 2nd) is more likely.  So if you haven't yet gotten around to 
contacting them, or if you did but via voice phone, get their DC 
office address from, buy a stamp, and send them a 
letter first thing this week - it'll likely get there in time. 

The House HUD/VA appropriations bill, as of last Thursday, was still 
scheduled for subcommittee markup this Monday July 26th, late in the 
day.  So if your Congressman is on Appropriations and you haven't 
yet contacted him or her, phone or fax Monday!  See the alert at for details on how. 

Over in the Defense Department budget, we're pushing for funding for 
the X-40B "Space Maneuver Vehicle" (SMV), a spacegoing version of 
the USAF Phillips Lab X-40A landing-only reusable upper stage 
demonstrator flown successfully last winter.  X-40B will demonstrate 
a variety of reusable space-launch, on-orbit, and reentry operations 
we and the USAF think very useful, operations complementary to what 
NASA plans to do with the related X-37. 

We and various like-minded folk have been working this one for a 
while - the Senate Defense Appropriation was passed weeks ago with 
$25 million for this project.  Last week the House marked up and 
passed its version of the DOD funding bill with surprising speed -
with nothing for SMV in it, oops.

We've been given to understand that there is support for USAF SMV 
among the House Appropriators, and that it is possible they'll 
accede to the Senate position of $25 million funding when it comes 
time for the two to hammer out their differences in conference. We 
don't know when the Defense Appropriations conference will happen, 
though we suspect (for arcane tactical reasons) it may take place 
untraditionally early, within the next two weeks.  As soon as we 
know the timing for sure, we're going to be asking your help pushing 
hard for full funding for X-40B. 

        Rotary Rocket Flies ATV, Does Second Round of Layoffs 

Rotary Rocket Company at about 8:30 am PDT on Friday July 23rd flew 
their Roton ATV for the first time, doing multiple rotor-borne 
liftoffs, low-altitude hovers, and landings over the course of 
several minutes.  The ATV is Rotary's "Aerial Test Vehicle", 
intended to demonstrate structures, systems, and the rotor-borne 
landing mode for the company's planned Roton reusable launch 
vehicle.  This initial flight took place several months behind the 
original (very aggressive) schedule - late, but not in our view 
unusually so, given the leanness of the budget (Rotary built and 
flew the ATV on $30 million total funding that we know of) and the 
universality of Murphy's Law - development projects *always* take a 
little longer than the engineers expect. 

Unfortunately, Rotary seems to have run low on shoestring - their 
ATV flight coincided with the effective date of their second round 
of layoffs.  We have not been able to get a definitive answer on the 
scope of the latest round of layoffs (we observe that even for 
companies in trouble, not being straight with the press is 
counterproductive) but it seems likely based on what we have been 
able to dig out that absent an immediate infusion of cash, Rotary is 
at best in mothballs and at worst is history. 


 - United Space Alliance (USA), the Boeing/Lockheed-Martin Shuttle 
operating consortium, is sponsoring the Space Shuttle Development 
Conference at NASA Ames, Moffet Field CA (actual site seems to be 
the Westin Santa Clara) with an all-star cast, Wednesday July 28th 
through Friday July 30th, 1999.  The general theme of the conference 
seems to be the prospects for continuing Shuttle operations for 
decades to come.  Information at; media 
registration contact is Jack King at 407 861-4358. 

 - The US Department of Defense has adopted its first major new 
space policy in a while - one key point being that we will treat 
space a lot more like we treat the sea and international airspace, 
as a medium where we support freedom of navigation and we will 
defend US assets, another point being that we will be pushing toward 
more flexible lower-cost space operations, both unmanned and 
potentially (if the cost comes down enough) manned. 

 - And finally for this Update, Rotary Rocket isn't the only outfit 
on a too-short shoestring.  Information warfare in support of 
radically cheaper space transportation costs a whole lot less than 
actually developing hardware, but it still costs.  If you like what 
we're doing and you want to see more, money is the sincerest form of 
flattery.  An SAS membership is $30, and gets you a discount on our 
annual conference (Space Access '00, April 27-29, 2000, in Phoenix 
Arizona) plus direct email subscription to our Updates and Alerts.

Yes, we give away our Updates and Alerts promiscuously - Job #1 is 
to get across our point of view.  No, we don't incessantly nag SAS 
members to renew or donors to give more - we're old-fashioned enough 
to think that's rude.  No, donations to SAS are not tax-deductible - 
we do far too much lobbying to qualify for 501c3 tax-deductible 
status without lying like rugs, and regardless of how common this 
may be we won't do it.  And no, we won't take donations from 
government contractors that might be affected by our positions; that 
way lies self-censoring impotence as the next big corporate check 
gets ever more important.  We've seen that, we won't do it. 

Given the above self-imposed restrictions, it's a tribute to our 
supporters that we're still here and fighting after seven years.  
We've seen checks for five bucks, we've seen a blessed few for a 
thousand.  Money translates very directly to time and energy - we 
thank you every one for all you've given over the years.

It's settling into a long grinding struggle, alas.  Please, help us 
stick with it.  Send your checks to SAS, 4855 E Warner Rd #24-150, 
Phoenix AZ 85044. 

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