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Sun, Oct 09, 2005

Canadian Arrow V-2 To Come Full Circle

To Be Displayed At White Sands After 2008

PlanetSpace Corporation plans to launch paying customers into space in the Canadian Arrow suborbital spacecraft starting in 2007; the first manned launches will take place with professional astronauts aboard. When they begin to retire their reusable vehicles after several flights each, in 2008, they will restore one to resemble a V-2 and donate it to the White Sands Missile Range Museum.

White Sands was the location of 64 V-2 launches from 1946 to 1952 -- these V-2 launches represent the infancy of the United States military and civilian space program, and their historic value can hardly be overstated. While the first few were just fired in V-2 mode, subsequent rockets were used for all kinds of experiments with guidance, control, and staging; America's first successful two-stage rocket was a skinny Corporal sounding rocket atop a plump V-2.

Being able to build on the basis of German wartime technology gave the United States a considerable boost in rocketry, and led to the familiar stereotype of the German rocket scientist that permeated American popular culture in the Space Age 1960s.

But V-2 technology continues to be leveraged by practical space engineers. The Canadian Arrow, originally developed as an X-Prize contender, is based very closely upon the V-2. "The tail and nose cone structures are identical," says PlanetSpace, and the engine would be instantly recognized by Wernher von Braun. The ends of the vehicle are identical, but the Arrow has a second stage which contains the crew cabin, and unlike the original V-2, which was a weapon, both stages of the Arrow recover to Earth by parachute and are reusable.

For the display, the nose and tail of decommissioned Arrows will be joined in V-2 fashion, and the spacecraft will be painted to resemble a V-2 and installed in the V-2 gantry at Launch Complex 33 at White Sands.

"PlanetSpace will assemble the Canadian Arrow rocket components and paint the outside of the V-2 display to resemble the TF-1 flight launched at White Sands Missile Range in 1951. This TF-1 commemorative rocket will be donated to the WSMR museum for display at Launch Complex 33," the company said.

Geoff Sheerin, PlanetSpace CEO, explained why the WSMR museum particularly should benefit. "The WSMR museum was a great help to the Canadian Arrow engineering group in the early days of their project, and Canadian Arrow has a debt of gratitude to the friendly and helpful people they met on the range."

"White Sands missile range is the cradle of the US space and missile program and it gives us great satisfaction to see the help provided to Canadian Arrow by the WSMR come full circle and provide a brand new display for their museum," Sheerin added.

The LC-33 site is currently a National Historical Landmark and has a Hermes-A1 rocket, a smaller, winged rocket based on V-2 technology, on display there in the V-2 gantry (the obscure Hermes project rockets were also fired from LC-33 from May 1950). The Hermes-A1 is property of the National Air and Space Museum; its ultimate disposition will depend on the desires of the NASM.

They can start planning now, for if things go right for PlanetSpace Hermes is going to be booted off LC-33 sometime in 2008, and a V-2 will stand in the gantry for the first time in 56 years.



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