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TOP > Report & Column > The Forefront of Space Science > 2005 > “The Next Goal for Rockets” or “The World of the Swindler?”

The Forefront of Space Science

“The Next Goal for Rockets” or “The World of the Swindler?”
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Manned rockets cannot carry tourists from the beginning. Test pilots must ride first, so we asked Japanese pilots some questions. This survey was conducted with members of the airplane-test pilot circle at the Japan Aeronautic Association. Expecting unforeseen aspects useful for the design of manned rockets, which we troglodyte launcher men cannot imagine, we asked them about the prerequisites for boarding, safety measures, etc. As a result, we received many interesting comments. We asked hesitantly, “Would you like to pilot the experimental manned rocket we are developing?” Since this survey was conducted just after the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, we were concerned that the response would be that no-one wanted to ride our rocket. With the cooperation of 50 test pilots in Japan, we had a quite positive result as shown in Fig. 3.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Willingness to ride an experimental manned ballistic rocket

We entered the 21st century just four years ago. Discussions on the progress of the technological revolution, on a sustainable society of the future, etc., are rapidly shrinking, even though these topics were earnestly discussed in the years leading up to the millennium. Ninety-six years are still left in the 21st century. This fall-off is the same as when we abandon our new year’s resolutions just after the New Years Holidays. We understand that a world where “re-use” becomes really beneficial is largely different from the current world. It is natural that we cannot reach that world with a single leap. However, I feel that thinking of ways to realize such a world is joyful work. I think we should be more ambitious in the coming years. I also believe that there are many ways to realize a new world. What do you think?

A conversation with Prof. Nagatomo, who was our boss, and had made many pioneering works in Japan:
”If we can realize such a rocket, annual income would be one trillion yen. What should we do if someone came to us to invest?”
”No one has come to us, Prof. Nagatomo….”
“What if we went out to raise the money?”
“Say we succeed in raising the money but cannot develop the rocket, what do we do then?”
”People would think we were swindlers… I quit. I leave it to you…”

(Harunori NAGATA)

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