David L. Burkhead is an Indiana writer of Science Fiction and Fantasy. He has also written on technical topics for The World & I magazine and High Technology Careers.
In addition to his writing, he works in a consulting laboratory in Atomic Force Microscopy and Nanotechnology. His work ranges from measuring samples in the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) to refurbishing used AFM’s for resale to writing software for measurement of AFM images. More than half the DVD production in the world, and the development of Blu-Ray, is supported using measurement software he wrote.
David L. Burkhead is one of the originators of the SpaceCub concept. In 1994 David and Geoffrey Landis proposed SpaceCub, a reusable manned suborbital rocket that would carry human passengers into space and back again. SpaceCub was intended for tourism and “thrill rides.” In this way SpaceCub provided a model for private businesses to make money in suborbital flight, an approach that could, with incremental improvements, lead to private manned orbital flight.
David and Geoff presented the SpaceCub concept at the 1994 Northeast Space Development Conference, the 1995 International Space Development Conference, and other venues. Short articles appeared in Popular Mechanics and the Brazilian magazine Istoé and David was interviewed about SpaceCub for an AAAS radio broadcast. Shortly after these events, other people started talking about reusable, suborbital rockets to carry humans into space. As a direct consequence, Peter Diamandis created the X-Prize foundation and the original Ansari X-Prize. The prize goal could have been taken directly from SpaceCub’s proposed specifications: a reusable rocket carrying passengers to an altitude of 100 km. This prize lead directly to the development and successful flight of Dick Rutan’s SpaceShip One and to the ongoing work by the Rutan’s and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Rutan and Branson, in offering private suborbital tourist flights, continues the model originated with SpaceCub.