Rotary Rocket Had Wheels on Landing Legs As SpaceX Plans for Starship

The Rotary Rocket Company developed the Roton rocket in the late 1990s as a planned fully reusable single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) crewed spacecraft. A full-scale test vehicle made three hover flights in 1999.

It had wheels on its landing legs and was towed to launch.

Gary Hudson and Bevin McKinney were the main developers of the Roton Rotary Rocket. Gary emailed Nextbigfuture photos of the wheeled rocket.

This is the plan for the SpaceX Starship and the Super Heavy Booster.

12 thoughts on “Rotary Rocket Had Wheels on Landing Legs As SpaceX Plans for Starship”

  1. Being (rather obviously) from Texas, I derive special joy that this can be towed by a pick-up truck. You could make a pretty funny movie involving this.

    Kudos to SpaceX for being innovative – on many levels.

  2. Given the weight and value of what’s on the wheels, I’m guessing some engineering effort might go into reinventing the wheel 😀

  3. Also, the skin of the rocket is the fuel tank, other than the ends of the tanks.
    Also, there would be no wheels on expendables, no legs!

  4. Does the SpaceX rocket shown above actually have fuel tanks, engines, etc., or was built for some other reason??? I’ve never seen any fuel tanks being hoisted into place…

  5. That is *clear* from Musk: “Attach wheels to the landing legs & tow Starship to the launch pad”. Both articles seem to headline a different thing, however.

  6. I don’t think Elon is implying that Starship will carry the wheels with it either. It wouldn’t matter for a test version but why would a production Starship reduce it’s payload by the weight of wheels when they can be just put on to move it?

  7. These wheels are not on the rocket. They are used to roll the rocket, but clearly do not launch. You may as well say the crawler was *on* the Saturn 5.

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