By Richard Hollingham BBC Future, October 15, 2012

 

The first thing you see as you drive into the Mojave Air and Space Port is a reminder of how hard it is to get into space.

Towering over the entrance is the white cone of the Rotary Rocket, a radical launch system that is half rocket, half helicopter. The fully reusable craft, developed in the 1990s, was supposed to reduce the cost of launching payloads into orbit by a factor of ten. In the end, the rocket failed literally and metaphorically to get far off the ground. But Stuart Witt, CEO of the spaceport, the vehicle is a daily reminder of the ‘can do’ attitude he hopes to encourage.