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Truax Engineering Multimedia Archive

Documentation of various projects related to rocketry pioneer Robert C. Truax (PDF) New!

Truax Engineering (PDF)
This must read overview of Truax Engineering by R.C. Truax details the
Enterprise Phase I suborbital and Excalibur Phase II shuttle alternative rockets, and the ultimate goal of the 20,000 ton Sea Dragon with a 1,000 ton payload capability at a projected cost of $20/lb (in 1983 dollars) in support of a manned mission to Mars or lunar base. This document outlines why the Space Shuttle was never a very good idea and stresses the concepts of reusability and simplicity to attain low-cost. NASA continues to ignore these concepts despite the conclusions of the Sea Bee, Sea Horse, and Sea Dragon programs at Aerojet-General in the early sixties (subsequently verified by a contract given to TRW) contending that the pressure fed propulsion approach is "technically uninteresting".

Sea Dragon
Sea Dragon Stage I Propulsion System Layout
Aerojet General Sea Dragon Concept
Technical Report

(8.3 MB PDF)
Volume 1: Summary

(11.7 MB PDF)
Volume 3

From Canyons to Cosmos (PDF)
This excerpt from the chapter entitled
"Truax" in the book Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition by Ed Regis appeared in the October/November 1990 issue of Air & Space and picks up the story of the X-3 and Project Private Enterprise which began shortly after Evel Knievel's failed 1974 Snake River Canyon jump.

Rockets From The Sea (PDF)
This article by William H. Ganoe published in the July/August 1990 issue of
Ad Astra summarizes the award of the NCST (Naval Center for Space Technology) SEALAR contract to Truax Engineering.


Panel Seeks Competition Of Navy, USAF Launchers (PDF)
This article published in the July 30, 1990 issue of Aviation Week describes a Senate proposal for a competition between the Navy's SEALAR program and the Air Force's ALS program to spurn the development of a low-cost launch vehicle. Despite this effort (or perhaps because of it) the SEALAR contract was abruptly canceled in late 1991.

Navy Barge (PDF)
This short article published in the April 8, 1991 issue of Aviation Week describes the background of the surplus Navy barge we modified for performing the X-3 static firings in Redwood City Harbor and includes a photo of the NRL's drop test rocket and the inflatable ballute recovery system being tested. It also mentions the parasail recovery technique that was being developed by the NRL and DARPA which I unfortunately have no data on.


Truax/Goddard Navy History (PDF)
This document from the Naval History Office recalls Truax's early pioneering rocket propulsion research at Annapolis and his later work with Dr. Robert H. Goddard which resulted in the development of the liquid propellant JATO unit for the PBY aircraft and laid the groundwork for the Navy's use of rocket power in guided missles.

Truax Air Force/Navy History (PDF)
This document from the Naval History Office recalls Truax's work to develop the submarine launched ballistic missle concept, his work with the Air Force to develop the Thor IRBM, and his later work at ARPA where he contuined to be a champion of the use of space.

Rocket Engines For Outer Space (PDF)
This early article written by Truax at the USAF Western Development Divsion details design considerations for optimizing rocket engine performance for use in outer space.
Courtesy of Charles Pooley at Microlaunchers

LEO on the Cheap (External Lnk)
Methods for Achieving Drastic Reductions In Space Launch Costs - This excellent 1994 study by Lt. Col. John R. London III (USAF) for the AFMC Air Univeristy includes numerous references citing Truax's publications and concepts and is a good starting point for further research.

Truax Engineering Multimedia Archive: Images New!
A collection of personal photographs.

Naval Research Laboratory SEALAR Contract Video
The following videos are in 320x240 384Kbps Windows Media Video 7 format.
Mac users can download Windows Media Player and Linux/BSD/etc. users can dowmload MPlayer
X-3 Firing #1
LOX dump
(don't try this at home)
X-3 Firing #2
X-3 Firing #3
Hi-Fi Stereo
(audio recorded with 2 PZM mics mounted on either end of the barge)
(note the TVC servos are running through a swept frequency response test)
X-3 Firing #4
1/16/91 - This firing occurred on the same night the United States first attacked Iraq. Within minutes we were visited by various Redwood City, CA officials citing numerous reports of a terrorist attack in the area.
Hi-Fi Stereo
(better than above)
TEI_X3_4B.WMV TEI_X3_4C.WMV TEI_X3_4_PC2.jpg
Chamber 2 (of 4) Pressure (note effect of modulated 10% "propellant utilization" valve)
X-3 Firing #5 (Cold Flow Test)
With over 50 pressurization cycles to it's credit the maraging steel LOX tank fails after the vehicle in final launch configuration had been subjected to possibly unrealistically high stress in a "simulated" aerodynamic bending test directed by the NRL using a fork lift. Subsequent analysis reveals a design flow in the location of the transitional welds as another possible contributing factor. Scary stuff!
4K RT-3 (Precombustion Engine) Firing
An experimental design to replace the X-3's four LR-101 thrust chambers. Although it performed well ultimately it was decided further development costs outweighed the benefits.
"7-UP" Firing #1
Named for one of the beverage containers used as a propellant tank, a series of above water firings were performed prior to completely submerging the rocket to validate underwater biprop ignition using a solid propellant ignitor designed by Ray Goodson.
"7-UP" Firing #2
"7-UP" Firing #3 Video (Underwater)
Rocket being raised out.

Project Private Enterprise Video
Possibly the world's first civilian manned space launch program.
Bob Truax appears on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to discuss the rocket he built in his garage using over $500,000 of his own money. Crazy?
After building Evel Knievel's steam rocket powered Skycycle, Bob begins searching for astronauts willing to pay for a ride which results in a huge media circus.
LR-101 Firing
(the surplus Atlas vernier engines used to power the Volksrocket and the X-3)
An early drop test performed to validate ballistic recovery.
Volksrocket Firing

Aerojet-General Corporation Video
Bob's earlier work at Aerojet lays the foundation for the sea launch and recovery concept and the "big dumb booster" argument for low-cost access to space.
Sea Dragon
At 80,000,000lbf possibly the largest launch vehicle ever proposed.
Sea Bee
The world's first reusable launch vehicle (RLV) to actually be reused.
Sea Horse
Static underwater firings in San Francisco Bay prove to be benign.
Sea Horse
A brief summary of the program and work that still needs to be done.

Ken Mason's rocket powered Chevy LUV at El Mirage
(a LR-11 from the X-15)

More coming soon!

Truax Engineering Multimedia Archive: Images

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