Vertical Landing Rockets Before SpaceX

Vertical Landing Rockets Before SpaceX
If you thought Blue Origin and SpaceX invented vertical landing rockets with the New Shepard and Falcon 9 then think again.
We have had vertical take of and landing systems for the best part of 60 years though its really only in the 1990’s that we had a rocket that we directly relate to the new SpaceX and Blue Origin vehicles.

In this video we look and the vertical landing rockets before SpaceX including the Mcdonnell Douglas DC-X

This video is sponsored by :

Presented by
Paul Shillito

Written & Researched
By Paul Shillito

Images and Footage
NASA, SpaceX, Blue Origin
McDonnell Douglas,
Lockheed Martin,
Bell Aerosystems

Intro music by
Mike Mullen BMI


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  1. I’m here after today’s successful landing by SpaceX Starship prototype SN15. I note the big difference between SN15 and the propulsive landing rockets from 60 years ago is the capability to stop and restart the rocket before landing. This was apparently not possible before.

  2. An interesting tidbit, I got to know Max Hunter in the 1990s and after he passed away, at his funeral his son (and friend of mine) showed a video of Max's life and history. It started out with the scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey when Dave Bowman is doing sketches of the scientists in hibernation. He puts one of the sketches up to the viewer for HAL, who says, "That's Doctor Hunter isn't it?" This was actually Arthur Clark and Stanley Kurbrik's nod of thanks to Max who contributed much of the conceptual future science parts of the film. Max even thought the year in the title "2001" was borrowed from one of his "future of space" seminars because Max often used "2001" in the title- seminars which Arthur Clark and Stanley Kurbrik had attended.

  3. Now think of this, Elon Musk got all the free research from NASA….hence why Space X got an advantage from the government….
    So he can then get a government contract to add a few billion to his net worth without really having to invest in the research…

  4. I saw a demo of one of the remaining Bell Jet Packs at 10K race in Marietta, GA in late 1990's. I talked to the Jet-naut the day before the event at a booth. The prior owner shattered both legs when it flamed-out in a demo just after launching off a 5-story building. Apparently the German supplier of hydrogen-peroxide had added an inhibitor without informing him. That poisoned the catalyst after a few seconds (decomposes H2O2 to steam). The demo showed the absurdity of using it in combat. Very noisy. A quick pop-up to 50 ft and quick descent, which looked hard to control. You don't want to linger long up high with only 25 sec of thrust. H2O2 is also very dangerous at ~80% concentration used. A rocket hobbyist near me (Roseville, CA) died fooling with it when it decomposed violently with his face above the bowl. Most mono-propellant rockets today instead decompose hydrazine, which is more stable, though a SpaceX Dragon capsule which burned up on a test stand a few years ago showed it also poses risks.

    Thanks for explaining how the DC-X SSTO idea was sold to the U.S. government. They convinced V.P. Dan Quayle. He is the type to buy a car warranty from phone scammers. SSTO sounds slick, but without higher-performing rocket engines, it doesn't pencil-out against multi-stage vehicles. "Fill and fly again" also sounds slick, but usually doesn't pencil out. Top-fuel drag racers partially rebuild their engines after every run. If someone could provide unobtanium crank and rod bearings which can survive, they wouldn't need to, but reality must be recognized. Better materials allow much progress and are the main reason that gas turbine engines went from barely turning themselves before WWII to powering supersonic aircraft today without needing after-burners.

  5. Haha manned lunar lander is a hoax. U believe that?
    It never was successful. Only crash video that armstrong escaped. NASA and spacex has been trying and still not working perfectly. US government lied to the world. Its time to admit.