Back to the Ice Follies

(Note: “Ice Follies” is my somewhat self-deprecating term for my ongoing attempt to learn to skate at the ripe old age of 59.)

The local rink finally opened again last week. I wasn’t able to go then, but I was able to go yesterday and today.

Back before the virus issue closed everything down I was working on my backward edges, backward crossovers, and two-foot spins. Basically working my way through the “Adult 5” curriculum. I also was just starting some preliminaries on trying to learn hockey stops which I’d missed in “Adult 4”. I wanted to see how much I’d lost in the interim with the enforced layoff.

First thing I noted is that I didn’t lose as much of my balance as I feared I might. I think the various one-leg partial squats and other exercises I do to build strength and suppleness in my legs might be helping with that. I did have a bit of an issue on front-back balance, occasionally catching the toe picks or “windmilling” to avoid falling over backward. Rink wasn’t terribly crowded so I was able to spend some time working the circle so I could work both directions. I played a bit with backward edges and they were shakier than they had been, but not too bad. I didn’t try backward crossovers. I think I want to get a bit more stable on those backward edges first. After some initial shakiness, I was able to do forward crossovers in both directions fine. When doing them, I don’t aim for power and speed. Instead I aim for “smooth and graceful.”

A perennial problem I have going backwards is getting my weight too far forward and dragging the toe picks. I’m not sure if there’s anything specific I need to do to correct that or if it’s just a matter of practice. (Any suggestions?)

In the end, I was able to skate for a good 35 minutes before fatigue caught up to me and I started getting dangerous–an accident waiting to happen and not being terribly patient. Before the layoff I’d been going a good hour in a session. At my age, conditioning falls off fast] in the absence of continued work.

Classes resume in mid-July. That gives me a little bit of time to get back up to speed before returning to them. And I hope I’ll be able to continue helping with the Snowplow Sams as I was doing before everything shut down.

I only wish I progressed as well as this young lady in my first year back.

The Wrong Solution

I really need to get back into posting here regularly.  Things have been insane at home so it’s tended to fall by the wayside.

Over in “Memories” on the Book of Faces, I saw this:



The Left never seems to be able to realize that a program or policy, any program or policy, was simply wrong. They always, _always, a.l.w.a.y.s. double down. If they ever acknowledge that things have gotten worse since the initiation of the policy their pat answer is “but it would have been much worse without…”.

There is literally no feedback to say whether a policy works or not. And without that checking, well, there are vastly more ways to be wrong than to be right, the result is a whole lot of wrong policies that turn into perpetual metaphorical millstones around people’s necks.

In the market, at least (if it’s actually allowed to operate) there _is_ feedback. If someone makes a mistake, puts forward a bad “solution” to a “problem”, well, people vote with their trade and take it elsewhere. If, however, someone comes up with a better solution (“better” in that more people prefer it) well, people again vote with their trade.

Now, what people actually prefer may not be what some particular individual or group of individuals like, say, political pundits think they _should_ prefer. Take an example. Back in the days when video cassette recorders were just coming out, there were two primary formats: Betamax and VHS. Now, many people claimed that Betamax was technically superior but somehow VHS “won” and became the de facto standard. However, as it happened while that was going on I was taking a TV repair correspondence course (which also covered video cassette recorders). One of the things I noticed. VHS tapes, at Standard Play, were a full two hours. Betamax were not (I don’t remember the exact length). It seems clear to me that the value of being able to stick a tape in and record a two hour movie off the television (as most movies were, with commercial breaks, edited to length for broadcast) without having to babysit it and hope to change tapes without missing anything was preferred to the image quality superiority of Betamax (my roommate in the AF had one and, yeah, it did provide a clearer picture). Sure, there were “long play” and “extended play” settings which could put more on a tape but using them (for technical reasons I need not go into here) reduced reproduction quality.

Young people who’ve grown up on on-demand streaming video and newer formats that record sound and video at greater resolution even than the historically vaunted Betamax may not really grasp how important that was, but it was a big issue in the day. And so, VHS was preferred by the market for reasons that the “but Beta was better” advocates either did not recognize or simply ignored.

It was market feedback that ensured, in the end, that people got what they actually wanted. Make it government regulated instead and how easy it would have been for someone, sitting in an office somewhere to simply declare “Betamax is better” and declare that to be the standard. And in so doing they would have rendered video cassettes useless for one of their primary purposes–recording movies and TV shows (which came in half hour, hour, and two hour blocks) unattended to watch later–at least until LP and EP came out and then with reduced video quality.

Government solutions, with few exceptions, tend to be the wrong solutions to the wrong problems leading to the wrong results. At best they benefit the few at the expense of the many. But that never seems to stop advocates from doubling down on those wrong solutions expecting that somehow, magically, they’ll get the right results out of them.

Only…it never happens.

New Wheels


New (to me anyway) car. 2009 Kia Spectra LX (the base model) 2.0L I-4 engine with a 5 speed manual transmission. It was relatively lively during the test drive, at least as far as an economy coupe goes. (0-60 is probably comparable to my old Miata’s but the handling…not so much.)

The ride was very soft (which has its good and bad sides–that makes handling less precise, but more comfort on the road). Brakes were solid and controllable. The engine has more than enough power to break loose the front wheels (FWD, of course) in first.

Big advantage over many cars I’ve driven, right off the bat, was that it fits. I have odd proportions–really short arms and legs and a long torso. To give you an idea, I stand 5′ 9″ but I had a roommate back in the Air Force who was 6′ 1″. Sitting side by side on a bench, the tops of our shoulders were dead even. Usually, I have to lean the seat back for headroom, move the seat up close to reach the pedals, and that leaves the steering wheel practically within kissing distance of my gut–which has my shoulders at the right position for good steering wheel control. From driving autocross, I like to have about a 90 degree bend in my arms when my hands are at 10 and 2. In the Kia, I had a much more comfortable seating position with easy reach to the steering wheel and the pedals.

The one “fit” problem was that the clutch pedal was closer to the brake than I’m used to. That will take a bit of getting used to.

The gear shift had a much longer throw than I’m used to, but I quickly adapted to it. Shifting was smooth and easy.  The AC blows cold.  A previous owner removed the stereo (probably installed a higher end unit and pulled it when selling the car so I’ll need to install a new one.  I checked and the harness is in place, so it should be a simply drop-in project. (Dash kit, adapter harness, and the unit itself.)

Unlike my old Explorer, it does not have power locks or remote control for the mirrors. That’s a minor inconvenience so long as I’m the only one driving it. I only need to set them once. Plenty of storage room for things like Athena’s cello. It might be a little packed for some of my bigger road trips (like LibertyCon). There are advantages to a trunk that’s distinct from the passenger compartment.

Now, provided it doesn’t just decide to crap out on my a dozen miles down the road (and considering my luck lately, I can’t eliminate that possibility), we should be good.

If They’re Tearing Down Confederate Monuments, why is Marx Allowed? A Blast from the Past

So, more statues and monuments are being torn down or vandalized.


[The original post] post was prompted by a recent news item about a statue to Karl Marx being vandalized.  A monument to a vile philosophy of the past being damaged if not outright destroyed?  Well, I wouldn’t be surprised given what’s been done with other monuments except this one, sad to say, is not “of the past.” If you don’t go looking, you may not realize how much Marx saturates the “intelligentsia” in the US.  He’s been ascendant in the Education-Entertainment Complex for generations (plural).  Arguments that are, at best, thinly veiled Marxism are treated as serious and, indeed, conventional.  Opposition is considered extremism.

How can this be allowed to continue?

Consider:  The number of Africans shipped to the US as slaves was never very great, totaling under 400,000.  Most of the more than 10 million Africans sent overseas to be slaves in the “new world” went to the Caribean and South America.  Frankly, I do not think that the US can be held accountable for the slave trade elsewhere.  Of course there were many more slaves in the US than that over time, thanks to the “natural increase” (i.e. slave women having children born in slavery and growing up to be slaves) but even so, the 1790 census reported just under 700,000 slaves in the United States.  By 1860, the eve of the Civil War, the number had risen to just under 4 million.

Given average lifespan even under the harsh conditions of slavery the total number of slaves in the US over the entire history of legal slavery cannot be more than about 15-20 million.

By contrast, Marx’s “ideas” have been responsible for over 100 million deaths and many more subject to oppression every bit as crushing as that of slavery.  It’s just the oppressor was the “government” (acting entirely for “the people” It Says Here).

If the institution of Slavery is so vile (and no one disputes that it was vile) that we must erase people like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry from history (slave owners, although of mixed feelings on the subject–Patrick Henry being a particularly interesting case) let alone folk like Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson, remove their names from schools and street signs, and pull down statues to them, then how much more should we not destroy the monuments to Marx? (And, seriously, how can anybody wear those revolting “Che” shirts given what a monster Che was–a monster molded by Marx.)

If slavery was, and is, a blight upon the Earth (and I assure you, it was), it is not the only blight, nor even the worst one.  If one considers the innocents slaughtered and the lives ruined, then how much greater the blight of Marx?

Some might argue that it’s unfair to compare slavery in the US with the horrors of Marxism worldwide but that speaks to the influence the individuals and cultures memorialized in the US have had–which was strictly American at the time with the US only becoming a world leader well after the abolition of slavery–with that of Marx which has been global.  He and his ideas have led to far more misery and death than Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Patrick Henry, and every other slave owner in the US combined.

My position is relatively straightforward.  While neither should be removed from history, both should be left in the past where they belong:

Cautionary tales, bad ideas unworthy of emulation.

Thank You, People of the Left: A Blast from the Past.

With everything going on from the disconnect between “going to church is bad and will kill us from COVID” and “massive anti-police protests are good; don’t worry about COVID” to actual insurrection (a group seizing territory and declaring itself independent of law and government) I have to see the silver lining and that silver lining is all the usual suspects spinning everything as all coming down to “Orange Man Bad.”  And so, as I said a couple of years ago:

People who know me know that I did not support Trump before the election. Given his history I didn’t believe his conservative rhetoric. Even in the campaign he threw five, arguably six, of the Bill of Rights under the bus and showed no signs of interest in restoring those that have already been stomped into the ground. Not even Hillary had a worse record than that on the issue that’s most important to me. So, I fully expected him to turn around and govern from the Left–worse, I fully expected the disaster that would follow from that to be attributed to the Right (leftists have done that before).
I am on record as saying that I was wrong. He did not live down to my fears. And I have never been so glad to be wrong in my life. (Well, maybe the time I lost control of a motorcycle at 100+ MPH and thought “I’m dead” as I went over the handlebars–walked away from that one.)
But I wonder why he so thoroughly rejected his history. Did he actually have a “Road to Damascus” moment sometime before running? I don’t know. But I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason isn’t the way the Left has gone so utterly batshit insane on the subject of Trump. Where the author of “The Art of the Deal” might well have been willing to “make a deal” they were so utterly opposed to anything with the “Trump” name attached that they didn’t just burn any bridges, they burned them with nuclear fire, leaving nothing but scattered elementary particles.
If so, let me give my thanks to those on the left. Thank you for your inarticulate screams of rage. Thank you for your pussy hats, your riots, your claims that anyone who supports Trump a “Nazi” or “Nazi Sympathizer.” Thank you for your marches and your safe spaces. Thank you for your demands for counseling because of the PTSD you got from seeing a pro-Trump message written in sidewalk chalk. Thank you for your faked hate crimes.
And thank you for a government shutdown because you wanted to ensure benefits for non-citizens who are in the US illegally and that was much more important than the actual citizens of the United States.
Thank you.

A Passion for Space: Blast from the Past



With the recent successful launch of the Dragon crew capsule I thought I’d post this “blast from the past.”

I’m a big proponent of space science, don’t get me wrong, but my major interest in the “space program” when I was younger was the idea that maybe someday I could go, I could walk on the moon or mars or visit, maybe live in, a space colony.  That was what I wanted: “I wanted the hurtling moons of Barsoom…” and if not Barsoom, then at least the real Mars.

When it became clear that it was never going to happen, a lot of my passion dried up.  Oh, there was still the academic interest in space science, in understanding the sun and the planets, in maybe seeing if there is life on other worlds, in the solar magnetosphere and its motion through interstellar space.

But the passion that used to drive me was gone.

That’s where NASA (and their political masters) dropped the ball, IMO.  While I have nothing against the folk doing Space Science, I really think most of whatever budget they had should have been doing toward “access to space” technology.  Improving rocket reliability.  The strong, yet lightweight structures for flight airframes.  Real hardware rather than whole forests of paper.  Stuff done to bring, and presented as bringing, us closer to the day when you and I can go.  We needed the space equivalent of the NACA cowl and 4 and 5 digit airfoils so that private companies could build private hardware that could carry private, commercial passengers to private space stations.

Instead we got Shuttle, and no new human carrying hardware until, well, nothing yet.  And with Shuttle gone, we’re left with even older technology (Soyuz) to get humans into Space.  I mean that span carried us just about from the Ford Trimotor to the Boeing 707.  Yes, space travel is hard, but more than 30 years after Shuttle’s first flight we don’t have anything better?

That passion got ignited again back on the old electronic service GEnie.  Geoff Landis made the offhand comment that “what we needed was a rocket that individuals could make and that could carry a person up a hundred miles or so.”  I took the idea and ran with it.  Geoff and I did a bunch of back and forth.  Some other people stuck there nickel’s worth in.  And the result was the SpaceCub concept.  We presented it at the NW Space Development conference.  New Scientist included a bit about it.  I was interviewed for an AAAS broadcast (I really wish I could find tape or transcript for that).

For a while there, it looked like I was going to be able to go somewhere with it.  At the college I was attending we had a visiting scientist from Russia.  He put me in contact with his old professor.  The professor put me in contact with someone from Energomach (manufacture of key rocket motors–including the verniers from the RD-107/108 that Geoff and and I were looking at for SpaceCub).  And . . . well, there was no money for any “and” and I had to move on with the task of getting a job and providing for myself.

The real problem, even more than money, was the legal issues.  I looked at the treaties of which the US was a signitory.  I looked at the law, as it existed then.  And, well, it looked pretty bad for anyone wanting to actually try something like SpaceCub.  So, well, my old web page about it is still up, but that’s as afar as it ever went.

But, not long after the X-Prize was announced.  The specs for the prize matched what SpaceCub was intended to do, carry passengers to a height of 100 km (international definition of the beginning of Space) and bring them back to Earth, and do it over and over again with minimal time in between flights.  I spoke to one of the folk there and he swore up and down that they weren’t influenced by SpaceCub but, well, as Geoff said, before we came along nobody was talking about manned suborbital flight.  Then after we started getting some press, suddenly they were.  I don’ t know.  I have my suspicions, but I don’t know.

Apparently the Rutans and Richard Branson think the legal issues can be dealt with since they’re building a business to do what SpaceCub was supposed to do for (admittedly relatively well-heeled) individuals–private, human carrying rocket flights into space.

And so, my hope is back a little bit.  But I’m afraid it’s not hope resided in NASA or the government, but in the Rutans and Bransons of the world.

And add Elon Musk to that list.  He wants to go to Mars.  I, for one, don’t want to bet against him making it.

The Cost of Things


Ask somebody the cost of something and they, more than likely, will point to the price tag.  This, however, is a partial answer at best.

The true cost of something is found in what one has to give up in order to obtain it.  You go to the store and pick out an item.  You hand over a certain amount of money and they hand you the item.  You gave up some money in return for the item.  The cost.  Only the money isn’t all you gave up.

You had to go to the store–walk, take a bus, drive, however you got there.  If you used motorized transportation, you had to pay something whether it was fuel for your personal vehicle, fares for public transit (or taxes for publicly funded transit).  That, too, is part of the cost.

It still doesn’t end there.  Going to the store took time.  That’s time that could have been used for something else.  The something else you could have done with that time, if you hadn’t gone to the store, is also part of the cost.

Did you spend any time researching the item?  Comparing it with other, similar items, to determine which fit your needs, and budget, better?  That time could have been spent on other things.  Therefore, that, too, is part of the cost.

And we continue.  To get the money to pay the store, you had to spend time and effort working (usually).  That time and effort is now part of the cost.  And if you have obtained skills that allow you to be paid more (thus having to spend less time and effort to obtain a given amount of money) the time and effort required to obtain those skills is also part of the cost.

Did the money come from savings or investments?  Well, to put the money into savings and investments in the first place meant foregoing whatever else you might have spent it on.  That other stuff could have meant nicer meals (could have had a more expensive steak instead of the fried chicken). It could have meant doing more or going more places on vacation (or taking a vacation at all). It could have meant making your own coffee rather than going to Starbucks.  But something was foregone in order to make that investment, the return on which is being used to buy a good or service now.  Those foregone opportunities are part of the cost.

And, of course, all of the other things one might buy with the money if one didn’t buy the particular item in question is part of the cost.

Once you start looking at the cost as the sum total of all the things one foregoes in order to obtain a particular good or service, many things start to become clear.  In my Intro to Microeconomics class back in college, the instructor said “middle men reduce the cost of goods”. The room, as you might imagine, objected strongly to that statement.  It is, however, true.  The price  of a good or service to me is increased by the existence of merchants, warehouses, distribution channels, and such things.  However, having goods available locally instead of my having to traipse across the country (or the world) to where they were produced, being able to buy a wide variety of the things I want in one place (a supermarket or department store or, wonder of wonders, both combined into one store) rather than dozens of specialty stores, and having standards of quality established so that I don’t have to spend the time to become an expert in any item I wish to buy in order to get decent goods all reduce those other aspects of cost.

When people consider whether a particular purchase is “worth it” they they are making, often at an unconscious level, an assessment on whether all the various aspects of cost come to less than the value, as they perceive it, of the item being purchased.  And those costs and values can change.

“I’m too tired to cook; let’s go out.” The time cost of preparing one’s own family’s meal is higher than the price difference of eating out at a restaurant.  Decision made.

“I’ve got a new recipe I want to try.  Let’s go get the ingredients, come home and try it.” And now the “time cost” becomes part of the value since it’s for a new and interesting recipe.  Different decision made.

Yes, I can get cheaper strawberries at the “you pick” farm about an hour outside of town.  But “about an hour outside of town”.  The time cost of driving an hour each way, plus the time spent picking, as compared to the time cost of grabbing a box of strawberries in the fruits section of the supermarket while I’m already there for other things really doesn’t justify the difference in price.  Once in a while making the experience part of the value perhaps, but not as a regular thing.

And so we have “you pick” places and supermarkets, because the cost and value is different and different people will make different decisions.  Even the same people will make different decisions at different times.  That is the power of the market, providing the means to accommodate if not all then the vast majority of those decisions.  It doesn’t take a plebiscite.  It doesn’t take any government mandate to determine “there’s a need.” All it takes is there being enough people wanting it for someone else to see value in providing it.  That’s why although only a tiny fraction of the US population rides horses on anything close to a regular basis, there are still (probably–numbers are sketchy) on the order of 22,000 (80% of 28,000) full time farriers (blacksmiths who specialize in fitting shoes to horses) in the US.

And that is why the market will always outperform the Minister of Nail Production.

Learned Something Today


Okay, not a car fire, but in the worst extreme it could have been.

Important lesson 1:  If you top up the coolant reservoir in an overheating car, the car (at least my Miata) has to cool down before it will draw the coolant from reservoir into radiator.

When I was getting the Miata back on the road after the Explorer was killed by a truck (nobody was hurt; let’s get that clear from the start, but the insurance, given the Explorer’s age, totaled it out), I had a couple of more serious problems to deal with (brakes!). As a result checking coolant level fell through the cracks. While out doing some shopping today, I noticed engine temp going up past the top end of the scale. Eep. (Important lesson 2:  Pay attention to your gauges).

So I stopped and bought some coolant (gas stations and parts stores are all over the place to it was easy to find). Reservoir was essentially dry so I filled and started out again.

Engine temp continued to rise. Eep2.

At my next stop, I popped the hood and checked the coolant reservoir again. Still full. Level not a millimetre lower than it was when I’d filled it.

“Oh,” thinks I, “this is not good. Not good at all.”

I inspected the hose between reservoir and radiator thinking maybe there’s damage or a leak causing the coolant to not be picked up. Nope. Nothing wrong I could see there. I popped open the radiator cap and…no coolant visible. So, I poured more coolant into the radiator. Only, it was still hot so I got some bubbling and mini-geysering. It was a bit of a challenge to get the cap back on without getting burned/scalded but I managed. Started up the engine again and, temperature promptly fell back into normal range.

When I got home, I parked and let the engine cool for a bit. Then checked the coolant level in the reservoir. About half full, so coolant was drawn from reservoir back into the engine. I topped it up again with the bottle of pre-diluted coolant I had in the garage.

And that, boys and girls, is why you always, always check your fluid levels. Having those checks “fall through the cracks” can lead to bad things indeed.

“It’s Just Property.”


The suggestion has been made that destroying property, which can be replaced, is not “violence.” Others have suggested that since it’s not “violence” per se, it’s perfectly acceptable as political protest.

Okay, strictly speaking “crimes against property” are not “crimes against persons”–property crimes vs. violent crimes.  However, the idea that this makes it a perfectly valid form of political protest is ridiculous.

One thing people bring up is the Boston Tea Party.  I have dealt with the Boston Tea Party before and it is in no way comparable to the riot, vandalism, and looting currently going on.  In the Boston Tea Party they were organized.  They very carefully limited their damage to the specific thing against which they were protesting (the tea of the British East India company which had the backing of the British government).  One man who attempted to keep some of the tea for his own use was prevented from doing so.  Damage done to property not of the British East India company, specifically a padlock they had to break to gain access to the tea, was replaced the next day.  Nobody was hurt and nothing other than the specific target of their protest was damaged.  And nobody used it as an excuse to enrich himself by looting.

But let’s address the idea that property is replaceable.  The specific items might be replaceable, but what you cannot replace, what no one can replace, is the time and effort, the bits of my own life, that went into obtaining that property. That is gone forever and I can never get it back. So, by destroying or taking that property, what you are doing is taking those bits of my life away, and neither you nor anyone else can ever replace them.

And here’s the thing, the only way I can replace the specific items damaged or taken is by spending more bits of my life to acquire them.  They don’t magically reappear by the wave of a hand.

“But…insurance” some will say.  The problem there is that insurance. costs. money.  More bits of my life spent to “protect” my property from people like you (person in the article linked above).  And the more property you damage, the higher the “risk” the insurance companies have to assess, and thus the higher the premiums I have to pay–the more “bits of my life” that have to be spent to protect other bits of my life from you.  Mind you, depending on how the risk pools are generated I, personally, might not have to pay the full cost of the increased risk.  Other people whose risks weren’t increased may be assessed higher premiums to cover my increased risk caused by people like you.  In that case, you’re not taking bits of my life.  You’re taking bits of their lives.  It’s no better for your case.

“But…government.  Government can reimburse the loss.” And once again, that merely changes whose lives you’re taking bits from.  Government doesn’t magically create the stuff for reimbursement from nothing.  People still have to be put to work producing that stuff.  And if government is paying for it, that means people have to be taxed (or worse, the currency inflated) to pay for it.  That’s pieces of all those people’s lives taken away because “it’s just property and property can be replaced.”

You might try to salve your conscience by saying that all this activity replacing stuff that’s jobs for lots of people.  That’s good for the economy.

Only it isn’t.  It’s the Broken window Fallacy.

You see (if you didn’t bother to watch the video, I’ll sum up the conclusion here):  All the economic activity that stems from replacing the lost stuff (repairing the broken window in the video), could just as well have stemmed from producing new stuff.  We, as a nation, are poorer by the amount of new stuff (and that includes goods and services both) we could have produced with the resources instead used to replace lost stuff. (BTW, the bad guy in The Fifth Element was clearly all-in on the Broken Window Fallacy.)

By rioting, burning, looting, and vandalizing, you are making our people poorer, not just “the wealthy” (however you define that term this week) but everyone.  And you are taking not just bits, but big chunks of people’s lives.  And how many chunks, between them, add up to a life.  Taking a thousand bits from a thousand people, each bit, say, amounting to a mere six weeks of someone’s life (and many of those destroyed businesses amount to a lot more than that)?  That’s 115 “life years” you’ve taken.  How is that better than taking 115 years from one person?  Combined, you’ve stolen a life as surely as if you killed a young child.

So, no, it’s not “just property.” In a very real sense it’s people’s lives.

Remembering SpaceCub


Years and years ago, I, along with Science Fiction writer and NASA scientist Geoffrey Landis put together a concept we called “SpaceCub.” The premise was a rocket that could be built as a kit by well-heeled hobbyists, carry a person up about 100 miles and return safely.  It was not intended to make orbit, a far, far more difficult task, just a suborbital up and down.  We believed that there would be a market for such a vehicle, that people would buy it.  That people would fly it.  Making and selling such a vehicle a business could make money that could be used to improve and extend the performance, of successor vehicles.  Longer range.  Larger capacity.  Something transatlantic capable, then transpacific.  Finally orbital.  All done incrementally through private industry without the need of any government financing except possibly “payment for services rendered” (if they wanted to buy vehicles, or buy flights on vehicles, we’d be more than happy to take their money, at least after careful consideration of what strings might come with that money).

During the time that we were actively working on SpaceCub, we presented at the Northeast Space Development Conference in 1994, the International Space Development Conference in 1995, and a couple of smaller venues.  Articles were published about SpaceCub in Popular Mechanics, in New Scientist, and the Brazilian magazine ISTOE.  I was interviewed about SpaceCub for an AAAS radio broadcast (and really wish I had a copy of that broadcast, but such is life).

And that’s where it ended.  Not being any kind of gifted fund-raiser and not having anyone else to pick up the torch, SpaceCub never went beyond those initial paper studies.  Not in itself anyway.  Not long after the SpaceCub idea started making waves, the Ansari X-Prize was announced, a then-proposed $10 million prize to the first company to send a crew of three 100 km up and then do it again with the same vehicle within, I think it was, two weeks.  I spoke by phone to one of the founders of the X-Prize and he said that SpaceCub did not influence them to create the prize.  However, in a separate conversation with Geoffrey Landis, he noted that before us nobody was talking about manned suborbital flight.  Nobody.  So coincidence?  Or were they influenced by us and simply not willing to admit to that (fearing, perhaps, that I’d demand remuneration).  So perhaps we did provide the impetus that led to the X-Prize, and in so doing led to Rutan’s SpaceShip One, to Virgin Galactic being founded, and further were part of the impetus to the creation of SpaceX and other up and coming firms in the field of private, commercial space flight.


The website on which I had my old pages describing SpaceCub is long defunct.  The hosting service has closed shop.  However, thanks to the Internet being forever thanks to the wonders of the Wayback Machine, I have been able to recover the original pages and include them here as one, long post (with minimal editing, mainly to delete defunct links).

So, here it is, combined into one:

The original SpaceCub pages (lightly edited):

News and information for the first “General Aviation” spacecraft

SpaceCub is designed to be a totally private, manned, reusable, suborbital rocket. It is planned to have sufficient performance to reach space and to allow ordinary individuals a taste of space flight including such experiences as take-off acceleration, weightlessness, sunrise (and sunset) from space, and reentry.

Aviation was, originally an activity for very few, a handful of pioneers who often died in the pursuit of their dream of flight. Yet that handful swiftly grew until thousands, them millions could fly in aircraft of all sizes and designs. While most of these people flew as passengers large numbers were able to pilot aircraft themselves. This opportunity has not been possible for those who dream of flying in space. Only a handful of individuals, selected by national governments, do that. SpaceCub is designed to change that. It is intended to make the breakout from space being merely the realm of a handful of pioneers to the workplace, living space, and even the playground of a great many people. The first step in that path is to allow ordinary people, not the chosen of any government, to experience a taste of flight in space.

The announcement of the X-Prize has made SpaceCub more than possible. It has made it, or something very like it, virtually inevitable. The X-Prize is similar in concept to the Kremer Prizes for man-powered aviation. It is to be a $5-10 million prize to the first private group (not government funded or run) to launch a manned, suborbital rocket, one capable of carrying a crew of three or more, to an altitude of 100 km (62 miles) twice within a fourteen day period. Such a prize would almost completely recover the development cost of a vehicle like SpaceCub.

Frequently asked questions:

What is the Spacecub?

The Spacecub is a manned, suborbital rocket meant to be built, operated and flown by individual hobbyists. It is planned to be fully reusable and not to drop pieces of itself along the way. In many ways the Spacecub can be thought of as a fully reusable, manned version of the Viking rocket of the early ’50’s since it has the same basic performance and general capability.

In addition to the hobbyist market, SpaceCub could also be attractive to “adventure tours” types of businesses (such as the outfit that sells the opportunity to fly Russian fighters or Interglobal Space Lineswhich sells, among other things, zero g aircraft flights) and those who currently launch sounding rockets.

With the exception of the computers and electronics, most of the features of the Spacecub are rather old technology. Most of the technical issues have been dealt with thirty or more years ago.

What are the numbers for the Spacecub?

The Spacecub will have the following dimensions:

Length: 11.5 m (38 ft 4 in.)
Span: 11.5 m (38 ft 4 in.)
Height: 4 m (13 ft) (ventral-dorsal fin tip to tip)
Fuselage dimensions: 1.5 m X 3 m X 10 m(5 ft X 10 ft X 33′ 4″)

Empty weight: 2800 kg
Payload: 500 kg
T-O weight: 18000 kg

Maximum altitude reached: 245 km
Maximum range: 612 km (at 100 km peak altitude)
(altitude is traded for range to some extent)
Maximum velocity at burnout: 1850 m/s (4138 mph, about Mach 6)
Flight time: 10-20 min

How much will the Spacecub cost?

We’re aiming at keeping the cost of the Spacecub down to about $250,000-500,000 in kit form with a fully constructed version at perhaps twice that. This is comparable to at least one high-end kit plane, a plane that has sold upwards of 50 kits to date. (According to figures listed in Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft.) [Ed:  1994 numbers]

How many passengers will it carry?

The current version of the Spacecub is a four seat vehicle, but there are plans to use the experience gained in the first Spacecub to design and build new vehicles with greater range, more passengers, and larger payload capacity. [Ed:  First concept was a single seater, but when the X-Prize was announced we enlarged it to make a 4 place vehicle.]

Why is the Spacecub suborbital? Why not make an orbital vehicle?

It takes a speed of nearly 8000 m/s to make orbit. However, fighting gravity and shouldering aside the atmosphere uses power that makes the rocket require a velocity potential (a “delta v”) of about 9500 m/s. With kerosene and oxygen as propellants the rocket would need 20 times as much propellant as the empty weight of the rocket. The suborbital Spacecub only makes a speed of 1850 m/s but fighting gravity and the atmosphere requires a “delta v” of about 4000 m/s. To do this the rocket needs fuel of 4.5 times the rocket’s empty mass. This is much, much easier to do than 20 times. However, all is not lost. As more experience is gained with vehicles like SpaceCub, it will be possible to design larger and faster versions, leading up to an orbital vehicle. All will be done in easy stages, making money with each step. This minimizes both market and technical risks at each stage.

Have any been built or flown yet?

No. It’s just finished conceptual development [Note:  Since the time this was written, the concept has been “back burnered.”  Further develop should be forthcoming.]. However, a series of scale models have flown, testing the stability of an early configuration in subsonic flight. These model flights have provided valuable information toward the eventual building of a flying models. (Many thanks to Brent for the work.) The latest configuration, aimed at possibly winning the X-Prize, has not yet had these model flights, however work toward doing so is underway. Current plans call for seeking financing in 1 – 2 years, with a prototype about 2 years after that, and first kit sales 6 months to a year after that depending on how flight tests go.

What is the X-Prize?

The X-Prize is a prize of the same nature of the old Ortig prize offered for the first non-stop transatlantic flight (won by Charles Lindberg), and the Kremer prizes for various man-powered aircraft milestones. It is to be a prize of $5-$10 million to the first private vehicle (government programs need not apply) to fly twice within fourteen days (same vehicle, so it must be reusable) to an altitude of 100 km. The vehicle must be able to carry three people, which was the reason for the recent change in SpaceCub design. [Ed:  This prize was eventually won by Dick Rutan with his Spaceship One.]

What does the Spacecub look like?

The current design has a ) main body seven meters (21′) long, an elliptical in cross section–1.5 meters high and 3 meters across. The nose is conical and two meters long with a rounded tip and rounded “shoulders” where it meets the main body. The rocket has swept wings with root chord of 4 meters and a tip chord of 1 meter with the trailing edges swept back to a point 1.5 meters behind the mainbody. The span is 11.5 meters (33′). There are two vertical fins, one dorsal and one ventral, swept, two meters in root chord, 1 meter tip and with trailing edges also swept back 1 meter. Tip to tip span of the vertical fins is 4 meters.

How does the Spacecub take off? Vertically or horizontally like an airplane?

The Spacecub both takes off and lands vertically. This means that some fuel must be reserved for landing. This also means that virtually any flat surface twelve to fifteen meters across can serve as an emergency landing point.

If It’s VTOL, why wings?

Suborbital vehicles reenter on much steeper paths than do orbital vehicles this means that they dive into deeper atmosphere while retaining more of their velocity than orbital vehicles. High speed and denser atmosphere add up to strong G forces. Computer models show that a capsule configuration, even a lifting capsule like Gemini or Apollo would experience reentry accelerations of 12-15 G’s. This was considered too high for a hobbyist spacecraft.

The only other option was a lifting reentry to keep the vehicle at higher altitude, and in thinner atmosphere, until it had lost more of its speed. Lifting bodies were one possibility but problems with layout and lofting, particularly when it was considered that SpaceCub was meant to be built by hobbyists, arose. That left wings as the only other option. Wings, of course, meant a penalty in such areas as weight and drag during ascent, but they proved the only viable option for the initial SpaceCub design.

What will the experience of flying the Spacecub be like?

The flight will start, with the Spacecub fueled and checked, with the pilot laying back in the seat, with the nose of the Spacecub pointed at the sky. Mist, visible through the Spacecub’s canopy, will drift around the front half of the Spacecub, condensation around the craft’s liquid oxygen tank.

Then the engines will light. The engine’s roar will shake the cockpit as the Spacecub begins to climb slowly into the sky. Acceleration will be gentle, a slight heaviness at first that will slowly increase until the pilot feels three times his own weight. In just over two minutes the Spacecub is over twelve miles up and breaking through the sound barrier. The engine noise vanishes and all becomes relatively quiet, with the only noise being that carried through the body of the SpaceCub itself.

Outside the sky becomes darker, first purple, then black. The stars become visible against the black.

Then, the engines cut out, less than four minutes after launch. All feeling of weight vanishes as the Spacecub begins its ballistic arc. For the next two minutes the Spacecub continues to coast upward before the ever-present pull of gravity begins to drag it back down. Then three minutes of falling and the rocket’s wings begin to again feel the bite of the atmosphere. The air around the Spacecub begins to glow with heat. The skin of the Spacecub begins to warm as acceleration builds. The airflow over the wings generates lift, and the Spacecub starts to pull up from its dive. At an altitude of more than 20 miles the Spacecub comes level, still moving more than 3 times the speed of sound. The Spacecub slows, shedding energy and begins a gentle descent. At about 12 miles it drops back through the speed of sound.

The Spacecub glides to the landing target and pulls up in an increasingly steep climb, trading speed for altitude. When it comes vertical the engines light and the Spacecub sinks vertically on its tail.

Why not use a parachute for landing, like the old Space Capsules?

Those old capsules set down at sea for a reason. Landing a large vehicle by parachute is hard on anyone in it. Such landings can end in broken bones and internal injuries. The Russian Soyuz capsules use a parachute landing, but even they use braking rockets to slow them at the last moment.

Well, why not a horizontal landing, like an airplane?

The Spacecub would have a stall speed of nearly 80 miles an hour, a power-off sink rate, in stable glide, of over 1000 feet per minute. That falls somewhere between a very bad glider and a very bad parachute.  The key phrase there is “very bad.” That combination would make for a difficult and dangerous landing. The Spacecub is aimed at hobbyists and pilots with a moderate amount of experience, not highly trained and experienced jet pilots.

Other problems arise from the need to flight test SpaceCubs. Each builder will have to test his own, or have it tested for him. With a vertical takeoff/horizontal landing there is no provision for taxi tests, hover tests, short hops, or other steps that can be made for either VTVL or HTHL modes. This makes the testing process more dangerous.

Still other problems with horizontal landing include a second set of, heavier, landing gear for horizontal landing, accessory equipment required at the landing site to erect the rocket for takeoff, very large peak structural loads on the airframe during landing (that descent rate is hard on the structure), protecting tires from reentry heat, and reduced options for landing sites in case a navigation error or emergency prevents reaching the original target site.

All that said, however, the vertical landing mode is one of the greater technical risks for SpaceCub. In particular, difficulties may arise in converting the engines chosen for SpaceCub for both reliable in-flight restart and continuous and precise throttling. While there is no doubt that both of these problems can be solved, there is a question about whether they can be solved within the projected budget. As a hedge against that possibility a horizontal landing option using an air-cushion landing gear to minimize stress to the airframe is under investigation. Such a system will involve a severe penalty in overall vehicle performance for the weight of the landing gear plus the weight of a separate “go around” engine (more important for HL than for VL). However, the performance should still be sufficient to meet the X-Prize requirements.

What about terrorists? Won’t they be able to use SpaceCubs as weapons?

Short answer, perhaps they could. But in a bit longer answer, they’d be really stupid to try. The SpaceCub has rather short range as missiles go. It has extremely limited payload. And its liquid propellant engines, in particular using liquid oxygen, make launch operations extremely hard to conceal. Furthermore, it comes down as a large, essentially empty vehicle. With the large wings and empty tanks it’s speed in the low atmosphere is something on the order of 150 miles per hour. It’s all metal construction, still hot from reentry, make it a perfect target for both IR and radar guided counterweapons.

There are plenty of better choices if one is seeking a terror weapon, or a battlefield weapon.

How much does fuel cost for each flight?

A flight of maximum performance requires 1200 gallons of kerosene and 2200 gallons of liquid oxygen. With kerosene at $2.00 per gallon and the price of liquid oxygen as quoted by a local supplier of $0.35 per gallon a fully fueled flight would require $3200. [Ed. Note:  those were 1994 prices]. That’s expensive, but not out of reach of those who can afford to buy a SpaceCub in the first place.

How many flights will the Spacecub be able to make overall?

With regular inspections of flight critical hardware and occasional overhauls of the engines, just as on aircraft, there’s no particular reason the Spacecub cannot last for years and hundreds, or thousands of flights. SpaceCub is designed with 50% margins throughout, which is a general standard and helps to keep high reliability and a long lifetime.

What preparations are needed to fly the Spacecub again?

The Spacecub will require refueling, recharging of the batteries, resupply of the pressurized helium tanks (used to pressurize propellant tanks and to power the RCM’s during ballistic flight), and a preflight checkout taking no more than an hour or so to be ready to fly again. This is an off the cuff estimate, though, until we actually have flight experience with the vehicle.

What kind of kit will the Spacecub be?

As presently conceived the Spacecub will be available in a “materials and components” kit. Actuators, sensors, engines, and complex parts such as those containing compound curves or taking high stresses (nose cone and wing spars as examples) will be pre-formed. Titanium parts will also be pre-cut to relieve the builder from working this difficult material.

What kind of materials will the Spacecub be made of?

The Spacecub uses mostly aluminum and titanium in its structure. The propellant tanks are sheet aluminum. The tank support structure is aluminum. The skin and skin support structure is titanium. Should titanium prove to be untenable, it would be possible to use steel instead, but the result would be either a more fragile vehicle (thinner skin and framing members) or a heavier vehicle, or both. Either result would reduce the performance of the spacecraft.

What will be used for reentry heat shielding?

At the speeds of the Spacecub, its size, and its mass, the skin of of the vehicle itself is adequate to survive reentry. The maximum temperature of the craft is less than 800 K (980 F).

What kind of redundancy will the Spacecub have? How will you handle an engine out on landing?

The Spacecub is designed to have three to five (not yet finalized) engines. The rocket engines we are most interested in are the verniers from the Russian RD-107 or RD-108 engines. These engines have been around since the days of Sputnik and have established a simply incredible reliability. Other engines, mostly of Russian make, are also under consideration. In all cases, the ability to make a safe landing, at any point in the flight, should one engine fail, is a major design criterion. In the landing phase, the rocket has shed enough mass that any one engine is sufficient for landing.

Control systems and electronics will be fully redundant, with nice, simple, foolproof mechanical switches for shifting from main to backup systems. Three computers, two GPS receivers, and two inertial platforms will give redundancy in navigation. Even primary structural member have redundancy. The three pressurized propellant tanks carry fuselage loads. Each one is sized, individually, to carry the entire load so that loss of pressure in one, or even two, would not result in loss of the vehicle or its crew.

How automated will the Spacecub be? Will the pilot be able to take control?

The Spacecub is designed so that the entire flight can be made with the pilot doing no more than pushing the “go” switch, or, alternately, with the computer doing nothing but provide data to the pilot who controls the entire flight manually, or any level of automation in between. This will allow pilots with a wide variety of different abilities and experiences to fly the Spacecub. For low experience levels the Spacecub would operate in a highly automated mode. As the pilot gains experience, the level of automation could be dropped until the pilot is flying manually. This makes the SpaceCub its own trainer.

What kind of license will be required to fly the Spacecub?

This is one of a number of yet unresolved legal issues. The Office of Commercial Space Transportation controls private space flights but their regulations, as yet [Ed:  at the time this was written, 1994], contain no provision for manned vehicles.

Launching overseas or in International waters is no help. The relevant laws (chiefly Public Law 98-575) applies the restrictions to US persons even when the activities take place outside the US.

Currently [Ed:  as of original writing in 1994], there is work underway to get this situation changed and to get a licensing procedure based loosely on aviation regulations enacted which will allow Certificates of Flightworthiness and Spacecraft Pilot’s licenses which will let you file a flight plan and go.

The level I have been recommending for piloting the Spacecub is 250 hours of flight time, instrument and multi-engine ratings, and 10 hours of aerobatic instruction, plus either five hours of dual instruction “in type” (i.e. a supersonic, VTOL, rocket plane), or twenty hours in a high-fidelity simulator, or some combination of the two.

Will the FAA allow the Spacecub to be launched?

The Office of Commercial Space Transportation is now an office within the FAA. It’s mission is explicitly to provide for commercial access to space. While the legal structure does not, at present allow for manned vehicles such as SpaceCub since no commercial manned vehicles exist at present, there are indications that they are amenable to working on developing such a structure if necessary.

SpaceCub could be launched using the same regulations as for unmanned vehicles, but that would not be terribly practical at present. In particular, the liability insurance requirements are prohibitive.

What kind of launch and landing sites will be required?

The Spacecub needs a solid surface to launch from, a supply of liquid oxygen and kerosene (which can be trucked in), compressed helium, and a supply of electrical power to charge batteries. No specialized gantries, launch pads, or other such facilities will be required.

For landing, you need a flat spot to set it down, although it might be nice to have the facilities to take off again.

What is the liability exposure of the Spacecub?

This is an issue for the lawyers to wrangle over. The actual risk factor (to anyone but the pilot within the vehicle) is actually quite low. The total amount of fuel is 1200 gallons. The fuel we are considering is the low volatility Jet A, or JP-5 (military version of the same stuff) so even a complete, catastrophic failure of the fully fueled rocket on takeoff would be less disastrous than a similar failure in a corporate jet. Further, the terminal velocity of the falling rocket in the lower atmosphere is about 300 mph, and the rocket is quite lightweight at that point so a total failure here is limited in extent. Finally, the redundancy and engine out capability of the ship makes the occurrence of such a complete and total failure (or explosion) a very low likelihood event. In practical terms the rocket is little more hazardous, to bystanders, than aircraft of similar fuel capacity.

Some have expressed concern about the presence of liquid oxygen, and the dangers it might add. This effect should be minimal. Again, the amounts involved are small on an industrial scale. Also, the physical separation of fuel and oxygen tanks makes the chance of sufficient mixing to cause a catastrophic explosion remote.

The main causes of explosive failures in rockets are combustion instabilities, destruction by Range Safety Officers (using bombs planted in the vehicle), and hard impacts (crashes). By using well established engines, combustion instabilities can be avoided. Airplane, rather than missile, style operations, will eliminate the need for RSO’s and their bombs (after initial testing). That leaves crashes. Multiple engine redundancy, computer enhanced, fly-by-wire control, and strict operational guidelines (to be developed) will minimize that risk.

What environmental effects will a launch cause?

This was one of the reasons for the choice of propellants for the rocket: kerosene and oxygen. This was to avoid highly corrosive and toxic propellants such as hydrazine or Red Fuming Nitric Acid. The environmental effect would be that of burning 1200 gallons of kerosene in a reasonably efficient system. There appears to be some question, however, over just how efficient that system is. Rockets generally run fuel rich since that provides best performance, and so would burn “dirtier” that kerosene burners on the ground. However, the exhaust is hot enough that the unburned kerosene products would burn quickly in the air. The detailed amounts of pollution would have to be investigated. Still, flight rate is likely to remain low enough for some time that total environmental effect will be negligible.

What about damage to the launch site from the rocket exhaust?

This is still an unknown. While the rocket exhaust is very hot, the total mass and exposure time is low. One trick under consideration for protection of the launch surface is to have the Spacecub carry a water tank that sprays water into the exhaust to carry off the heat. About 120 gallons of water would be enough to carry off all the heat generated in the first ten seconds of flight. After that, the rocket is more than 100 meters up and no longer a danger to the surface below.

What about noise problems on launch and landing?

This is another unanswered question. The reputation rockets have for being really loud comes from the big rockets people are most familiar with. For instance, the Atlas rocket has about 400,000 lbs of thrust on takeoff. The Spacecub has 20,000 lbs or thrust or so on takeoff. The bigger the rocket, the noisier. Just how loud the Spacecub will be is still not known though. From theoretical indications, the SpaceCub should be 1/20th, or 13 dB less loud. It appear that here SpaceCub resembles aircraft more than it does spacecraft. Also, the same water spray under consideration for launch-stand protection would help to deaden this noise.

What International Treaties Affect the SpaceCub?

This is another sticky issue. The main treaties are the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the 1973 Convention of International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects. However, most of the provisions of these treaties can be neatly avoided by simply restricting flights to over the US. Flights to higher altitude will also need some check to avoid any risk of collision, yet such a risk is minute for the altitudes and flight times of the Spacecub.

Why would one want to use or buy SpaceCub?

If one needs a “practical” reason the Spacecub is the fastest means of going up to 600 km. However, “practical” reasons aren’t really what the Spacecub is about. It’s meant for recreational flying. In the Spacecub one could see the sun against a black backdrop. One could experience weightlessness. One could see the Earth from above its atmosphere.

What about emergency considerations? Can the pilot extract himself from the rocket in an emergency?

In most possible failure modes, the pilot would be best advised to stay with the rocket. In particular, the pilot would have to stay with the rocket at supersonic or extra-atmospheric flight. The multiple engines provide the ability to the Spacecub to continue flying and either abort to a controlled landing or complete the flight even should an engine fail.

The prototype, however, will probably have some sort of escape system.

Perhaps the most serious potential problem for pilot safety is loss of cabin pressurization. As a shield against this a look is being taken at the Space Activity Suit, a skintight elastic garment that provides pressurization by direct pressure of the fabric. The suit has been tested to pressures of at least 3.5 psi and appears to be adequate for emergency use until reentering the lower atmosphere.

Where does it go from here?

At this point, SpaceCub has gone about as far as paper analysis can carry it. Most of what remains in that area is just fiddling with details. The next step is to get actual experience with hardware. The following projects have been suggested to continue:

1/10 scale flight model (flight through the transonic regime)
full scale mock up for wind tunnel testing (probably expensive, if only for wind tunnel time)
2/3 scale tow glider (test control and handling qualities at low speeds)
full scale cockpit mockup (check human factors)
In depth computer analysis (CFD, weights and structures)

How can I find out more?

One way would be to stop in at [Ed:  defunct website deleted] and ask.

Forget finding out more, How can I get involved?

SpaceCub is always looking for participants, people who have skills and abilities they can bring to the project.  What are being sought are not employees, but the initial core of people around which to build the project.  You can discuss the project at the private news site [Ed:  defunct website] or write to [Ed:  defunct email] to find out more about these opportunities.


SpaceCub Mass and Components Breakdown

All masses in Kilograms


System Subsystem Component Quantity Mass ea. Total Mass
  Fuselage Body        
    Ring Frames 20 5 100
    Stringers 10 7 70
    Access Panels 8 0.5 4
    Climbing Steps 8 0.25 2
    Spring Step Covers 8 0.25 2
    Retractable Step 1 1 1
    Skin 1 253 253
    Stringer Brackets 200 0.003 0.6
    Rivits 4400 1E-04 0.484
    Spar 1 100 100
    Aux. Spar 1 100 100
    Ribs 20 1 20
    Spoilers 4 14 56
    Spoiler Hinges 4 2.6 10.4
    Spoiler Actuators 4 1 4
    Return Springs 12 0.1 1.2
    Landing Struts 2 10 20
    Leading Edges 2 3 6
    Skin 1 205 205
    Rivits 1500 1E-04 0.165
  Vertical Stabilizer        
    Spars 5 2 10
    Ribs 8 1.2 9.6
    Spoilers 4 7 28
    Spoiler Hinges 4 1.3 5.2
    Spoiler Actuators 4 1 4
    Return Springs 12 0.1 1.2
    Landing Struts 2 10 20
    Leading Edges 2 1.5 3
    Skin 1 40 40
    Rivits 800 1E-04 0.088
    Spar 2 10 20
    Ribs 8 0.75 6
    Leading Edges 2 1 2
    Mounting Swivel 2 2 4
    Mounting Plate 2 5 10
    Canard Actuators 4 1 4
    Skin 1 58 58
    Rivits 600 1E-04 0.066
Propellant System          
  O2 Tank        
    Pressure Shell 1 65 65
    Anti-slosh baffles 4 0.5 2
    Anti-Vortexing Baffle 1 0.25 0.25
    Surface Tension PMD 1 2 2
    Fill Line 1 3 3
    Fill Check Valve 1 1 1
    Relief Valve 1 1 1
    Feed Line 1 10 10
    Purge Drain Line 1 2 2
    Drain Valve 1 1 1
    Level Sensor 1 2 2
    Mounting Brackets 60 0.03 1.8
    End Cap Hardpoints 8 2 16
  Kerosene Tank        
    Pressure Shell 2 50 100
    Anti-slosh Baffles 10 0.3 3
    Anti-vortexing Baffles 2 0.25 0.5
    Surface Tension PMD 2 2 4
    Fill Line 1 5 5
    Fill Check Valve 2 1 2
    Relief Valve 2 1 2
    Feed Line 2 6 12
    Purge Drain Line 2 2 4
    Level Sensor 2 2 4
    Mounting Brackets 150 0.03 4.5
    End Cap Hardpoints 16 2 32
  Landing O2 Tank        
    Outer Shell 2 4 8
    Anti-Vortexing Baffle 2 0.125 0.25
    Surface Tension PMD 2 1 2
    Fill Line 2 3 6
    Fill Check Valve 2 1 2
    Relief Valve 2 1 2
    Feed Line 2 6 12
    Purge Drain Line 2 2 4
    Drain Valve 2 1 2
    Level Sensor 2 2 4
    Mounting Brackets 150 0.03 4.5
  Landing Kerosene Tank        
    Outer Shell 2 3 6
    Anti-Vortexing Baffle 2 0.125 0.25
    Surface Tension PMD 2 2 4
    Fill Line 2 2 4
    Fill Check Valve 2 1 2
    Pressure Relief Valve 2 1 2
    Feed Line 2 2 4
    Feed Valve 2 1 2
    Purge Drain Line 2 1 2
    Purge Valve 2 1 2
    Level Sensor 2 1 2
    Mounting Brackets 40 0.03 1.2
    Pressure Shell 1 100 100
    Windshield 1 20 20
    Canopy 2 15 30
    Canopy Frame 2 6 12
    Canopy Hinge 2 4 8
    Canopy latch 4 2 8
    Canopy Gasket 2 2 4
  Air Supply        
    Compressed Air Tank 2 5 10
    Tank Pressure Guages 2 2 4
    Flow Regulator 2 2 4
    Cockpit Pressure Guage 1 1 1
    Couches 4 10 40
  Controls and Instruments        
    Computer Motherboards 3 3 9
    GPS Receiver 2 2 4
    Inertial Platform 2 5 10
    LCD Displays & Controls 3 2 6
    Q Ball 1 5 5
    Guages and Instruments 1 20 20
    Switches, etc. 1 5 5
    Radios 2 2.5 5
  Batteries   1 110 110
  Wiring Harness   1 10 10
  Power Conditioning   1 5 5
Main Propulsion          
  Rocket Motors   4 71 284
    Jetavator Rings 4 5 20
    Mounting Brackets 4 20 80
    Actuators 8 5 40
  Box Truss        
    Struts 99 0.5 49.5
    Joint Plates 52 0.25 13
Reaction Control System          
    Thrust Chambers 24 0.5 12
    Solenoid Valves 48 0.25 12
    Mounting Brackets 24 0.25 6
  Propellant Feed        
    Main Pressure Regulators 2 1 2
    Low Pressure Tanks 4 2 8
    Helium Distribution Lines 8 1 8
    Feed Lines 48 0.125 6
    High Pressure Tanks 2 10 20
    Subtotal     2454
    Mass growth allowance     366
    Empty Weight     2820
    Payload     500
    Landing Fuel     700
    Reentry Weight     4020
    Takeoff Fuel     14070
    Takeoff Weight     18090

SpaceCub Development Cost Estimates

Initial Design Through Blueprints 450,000
Engine Development 1,000,000
Software Development 600,000
Engine Static Testing 1,300,000
Construction of 3 Prototypes 1,050,000
Flight Testing 1,750,000
Total 6,150,000

This is a rough estimate, based largely on parts count. [Ed:  A friend of mine, at the time who worked for McDonnal Douglas said that for an initial estimate figure “X” man hours per component and a loaded hourly rate of “Y” dollars.  That’s the basis for those figures.  Dick Rutan’s “SpaceShip One” cost about four times that much to develop, but it was a much more complicated project.  Unfortunately I was in no position to raise that kind of money.  Would have been interesting to see if we could have done it]

Ongoing Projects [Ed:  as of the original 1994-1997 writing of this.  Sadly, the need of employment and caring for my family took over and things came to a grinding halt.]

  • Trade Study analysis software
    This is a project to develop a software package to perform trade studies on the SpaceCub.  It will  allow the user to put in different parameters such as fuselage size and shape, nose cone size and shape, wing span, sweep, and thickness, canard size and placement, and so on.  The software would then draw a picture of the design, make a weights and balances estimate, and estimate subsonic and supersonic drag and stability.

    • Develop 3D drawing engine (Done)
    • Develop SpaceCub design specification engine (In Progress)
    • Develop aerodynamic characteristics calculation engine
    • Develop user interface
  • SpaceCub performance simulator
    This is a project to develop a software package to take the results of trade studies produced by the above and run a variety of standard flight profiles to gauge performance of the various packages.  This is to be an extension of the existing package used for the initial analysis

Future projects [Ed:  None of which happened, sad to say]

  • 10% scale flight model.
    • This is to be a model, possibly radio controlled, to test stability of the design in subsonic and low supersonic flight regimes.
  • Cockpit mock-up/simulator
    • This will first be a non-functional mock-up to test human factors for the full scale system and later will be equipped with functioning controls to run a computer flight simulator.