Space Access Update #86  6/25/99 
               Copyright 1999 by Space Access Society 

Stories This Issue:

 - Rumors Of Rotary's Death Greatly Exaggerated 

 - House, Senate NASA Appropriations Markups Both Now Due In July 

                         Rotary Rocket News 

Apparently some people read a lot more into our Rotary Layoffs story 
last week than was there - the company is not dead, it is continuing 
operations, and it is in no danger of running out of funds anytime 
soon.  It has laid off, as we reported, a large part of its current 
staff - exactly how large is still not entirely clear; the best 
figure we can come up with is approximately - very approximately - 
half their sixty-or-so employees.  The majority (if not the 
entirely) of those laid off seems to be the twenty or so "Rocketjet" 
rotary engine development team members - Rotary is putting 
development of their proprietary high-performance engine on 
indefinite hold. 

Rotary has meanwhile announced that they plan to use a derivative of 
the NASA "Fastrac" low-cost engine in their "PTV", no further 
details made public.  This has created considerable confusion, as 
Rotary didn't specify the PTV-1, a suborbital test vehicle where 
Fastrac's relatively low performance might be acceptable, or PTV-2, 
the followon orbital prototype where high engine performance is much 
more important.

It is now our understanding that engines derived from Fastrac 
(Fastrac itself is too heavy for the application) will power the 
PTV-1 suborbital vehicle.  PTV-2 engine options aren't being 
discussed at the moment; anything we said would be speculation. 
Rotary has stated that while they may revive the Rocketjet in the 
future, it is not the engine they expect to use for initial orbital 
vehicles - whatever that engine might be, it was selected on the 
basis of reduced schedule risk as compared to the Rocketjet. 

Meanwhile, Rotary conducted a successful seven-minute test of the 
ATV's tip-jet powered landing rotor systems this week.  The miswired 
rotor-speed control system was fixed, the overstrained rotor 
components were replaced from inventory, and the system is up and 
running.  Look for initial ATV flight test, if all goes well, in the 
next few weeks. 

            House, Senate to act on NASA Funding in July 

The Senate postponed initial markup of the NASA (HUD/VA) FY'00 
Appropriation from early next week to after the July 4th recess.  
The House meanwhile moved its NASA Appropriation up from September 
to sometime in July also.  Our best current guess is that this means 
the House and Senate have agreed to both stick to the multiyear 
deficit-deal budget caps on the HUD/VA Appropriation bill - this 
means trouble for NASA, as sticking to the caps will mean an across-
the-board cut of nearly 10% in all discretionary HUD/VA items, 
meaning about a billion dollar reduction in NASA rather than the 
slight increase that had been anticipated. 

All you self-starters out there, start working any Senators or 
Representatives you may have on Appropriations - ask them to support 
adding modest funding for X-Ops to NASA "Future-X" - if they want to 
know how much, well, we could live with $40 million.  It's going to 
be a tough budget year, work this one hard.  We'll have a more 
detailed alert out once the markup schedule is pinned down. 

(And as a bonus for all of you who've read this far, look for 
interesting and very positive news out of another of the RLV 
startups soon.  More on this the instant it's a done deal...) 

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