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.
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.
$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.