I remember reading in the 2010s about a company that was building a traffic cone shaped rocket that would first ascend to the upper atmosphere with helicopter blades attached on the tip, then retract its wings and complete the rest of the ascent to orbit. On descent, the blades would be used in place of a parachute to precisely land, and also thus enable heavier cargos to be delivered to the Martian surface. Unfortunately, the existence of helicopter mounted rocket weaponry, and the Ingenuity drone, have made it impossible to google. Does anyone remember what the company/vehicle were called? What happened to them?


1 Answer 1


It was Rotary Rocket, the prototype vehicle was called the Roton. It's older than you remember, they went out of business in 2000.


Their ideas proved unworkable. I remember reading that the thing in helicopter mode was insanely difficult to fly, not least because of limited visibility.

When the original design began to look as if it wouldn't work out, they tried to change to a really bizarre spinning aerospike engine. At the time I was hoping that at least made it to some test runs so I could see the results, but it didn't.

There's an old question about it here Could a Roton-like SSTO work? but I don't think it's a duplicate - that one is about if it could work, not what it was.


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