Astronaut farmer, meet astronaut fab engineer

The introduction of this Arizona Republic article probably puts it best:

By day, Morris Jarvis works as an instrumentation and control engineer for Intel Corp.’s newest factory, Fab 32.

By night and on the weekends, he is Arizona’s version of the “Astronaut Farmer,” building a vehicle he hopes to launch into space someday.

Jarvis is building a small winged vehicle that can be launched by balloon or rockets (the article is vague whether the balloon is part of the launch system or just, as noted, a means to generate revenue before going to rocket-powered flights), eventually carrying four people to about 100 kilometers for $100,000 apiece. He estimates he needs only $5.4 million to begin rocket-powered flights (“only” in sense that other ventures have suggested needing far larger amounts—think of EADS Astrium and its €1 billion).

From the limited information in the article, though, it’s tough to take this venture that seriously. Jarvis has kept a low profile in the personal spaceflight community to date. At the very least, given his location, he should be presenting his project at the Space Access conference in Phoenix; if he did, people might be better able to judge his effort from a technical and financial standpoint, and even perhaps offer some assistance.

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