24 April 1998
News - Other (None)
CAC Pilot Appears on David Letterman Show
Vaughn Cordele Shows He's Got the Right Stuff
by Sam Coniglio
Vaughn Cordele, the Civilian Astronaut Corps Pilot, appeared on Thursday's "Late Nite with David Letterman" show. He was dressed in an all black military-style flight suit and was wearing CAC logos. He was slightly nervous, but he confidently talked about himself and the rocket.

Vaughn is an experienced civilian airline pilot, with over 16,000 hours of flight time on 767s and other aircraft. Dave broke the ice by talking about airplanes and airplane engines, and then the rocket.

The CAC is privately funded. It has taken 33 flight memberships, and is negotiating with several companies to be flight sponsors.

Vaughn said the CAC rocket is designed using "Charles Lindberg's approach: fast, simple, and very, very low cost." He credited Jim Akkermann, "a 35 year NASA engineer," as the designer of this rocket. Thirteen other NASA engineers are also working on the project. He described the vehicle's shape, and the flight program.

The vehicle will be held down in the Gulf of Mexico with a cable system. It will bob around like a Coke bottle in the water. Then a torch system will ignite the water underwater. "Who will do the igniting, Gill Man?" asked Dave, incredulously. The rocket will then take off at 2,500 miles per hour, causing the force of 2Gs on the passengers. Vaughn will gently roll the rocket around during the 2 minute flight up, so the passengers can see the Earth at different angles.

At around 70 miles up, the apogee of flight, Vaughn will aim the rocket down toward the Gulf of Mexico. The re-entry will be at a speed of 3,500 miles per hour, and for thirty seconds the passengers will encounter about 5Gs of force. Vaughn will then glide the vehicle like an airplane to a soft landing on the water. A speedboat will pick up the pilot and passengers.

Dave asked about G forces, for they sounded harsh. "Race car drivers experience about 2Gs," Vaughn replied, "If you can stand and enjoy a roller coaster ride, you'll love this."

The audience applauded enthusiastically. Even Dave seemed half convinced.

The CAC has upped the ante in the race for cheap access to space. The world will be watching them, and in turn all of us new space pioneers. Let's hope their rocket works.
Source: Samuel Coniglio

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Sam Coniglio 24 April 1998
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