A rocket ride could be in space in 2009

August 19, 2008 9:11:54 PM PDT
Of all the exhibits at Intel's developer forum in San Francisco, there is one that is out of this world. Or, at least, it might be at some point. The invention is the brainchild of a software engineer with astronaut dreams.

It looks a little like the space shuttle, but cost tens of billions of dollars less.

"Realistically, from start to finish, how much to put a man into space?" said ABC7's Wayne Freedman.
"$1.5 million is what we're looking at for the balloon," said Morris Jarvis, the rocket developer.

It's a 22-foot-long, carbon fiber dream of Morris Jarvis, who believes this to be the vehicle that can make citizen space flight a reality for just about anyone.

"People are likely to say you're either a visionary or crazy," says Freedman.
"Well, that depends on the outcome," said Jarvis.

This wouldn't be the first private enterprise to reach sub-orbital flight. Spaceship One did it in 2004, and with it, Virgin Atlantic Airlines received a backlog of deposits for future trips. However, Jarvis proposes to do it for much less, about $30,000 a ticket. And once in space, he might open the moon-roof for you.

"Once you get into a parabolic, you open it up, stand up in your seat, get the full view, and then come back," said Jarvis.
"You can't do that on a roller coaster," said Freedman.
"Exactly," said Jarvis.

To hear Morris tell it, everything about this spacecraft is about low cost and efficiency. They don't do wind tunnel testing because, well, they don't exactly have one. However, he does have Bonneville Salt Flats where, in October, they will test the craft at high speeds by pulling it behind a semi-truck and they saved money on the landing gear.

"The reality is I bought this off of eBay, the complete set," said Jarvis.

It's worth noting that Jarvis did get a big endorsement on Tuesday, from former astronaut, Story Musgrave. The six-time shuttle veteran poked, and prodded, and then pronounced the prototype to be viable.

"Would you fly in it?" asked ABC7's Wayne Freedman.
" Huh? I already asked him, I want to sign up?" said Musgrave.

For the record, Jarvis says that, if he raises the money, he could have Hermes in space next year.


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