Encyclopedia Astronautica

Argentinan manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of Pablo De Leon of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Reached the stage of engineering tests by 2003.

Gauchito (Little Cowboy) was a concept of Pablo De Leon and Associates of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The vehicle would use a hybrid rocket powered vertical takeoff and parachute descent on water landing. Pablo de Leon was an experienced aerospace engineer, co-founder and president of the Argentine Association for Space Technology (AATE), and a graduate of the International Space University. The Gauchito was a clustered design made up of four hybrid engines producing a maximum acceleration of 3.5 G. The engines would burn until the vehicle reached an altitude of 34 km, followed by a coast to 120 km. After five minutes of weightlessness, the pilot was to orient the thermal shield for re-entry. The vehicle was recovered via parachute. De Leon flew a subscale test capsule to 30 km and conducted one-third scale rocket test firings. Testing of flight suits and other critical systems were conducted in May 2003 and a half-scale flight test of the Gauchito vehicle was conducted in June 2003.

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Associated Countries
  • Argentina The Argentine Interplanetary Society was organized in the 1940's. In 1952 Argentina was one of the founding members of the International Astronautical Federation. From 1960 the Comision Nacional de Investigaciones Espaciales (CNIE) worked with the Argentine Air Force's Instituto de Investigaciones Aeronauticas y Espaciales (IIAE) to develop indigenous sounding rockets and missiles. Argentina was the first country in Latin America to send an object into space using an indigenously-developed rocket. In the 1980's Argentina took part in a multinational effort to develop the Condor intermediate range missile. Under American pressure, the Condor Program was canceled in 1991, the IIAE and CNIE were dismantled, and further work on launch vehicles was banned. A new civilian space agency, CONAE was created, which concentrated on development of surveillance satellites for earth resource and environmental monitoring. More...

See also
  • X-Prize The X-Prize competition was an attempt to promote commercial civilian spaceflight in a manner similar to the prizes handed out in the early days of aviation. Ten million dollars was to go to the first team to fly a vehicle capable of launching three people into space (defined as an altitude of 100 km in a suborbital trajectory), twice in a two-week period. The vehicle had to be 90% reusable by dry mass. For purposes of the two flights, the competition accepted flight by one person and ballast equivalent to two others at 90 kg per passenger. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies

Gauchito Chronology

2001 March 1 - .
  • Gauchito capsule drop test. - . Nation: Argentina. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: Gauchito. Summary: Pablo de León (Buenos Aires, Argentina) performs a capsule drop test out of a Hercules C-130 aircraft from 54,000 feet..

2002 May 1 - .
  • Gauchito drop test. - . Nation: Argentina. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: Gauchito. Summary: Pablo de León (Buenos Aires, Argentina) performs second capsule drop test from 96,000 feet..

2003 May 16 - .
  • Gauchito life support system tests. - . Nation: Argentina. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: Gauchito. Pablo de León (Buenos Aires, Argentina tested his vehicle's life support systems, pressure suit, and environment controls using several high altitude glider flights to 30,000 feet using their space suit system. The suit also underwent several thermal tests in a cold chamber (-35 Centigrade) and external temperatures were sustained for more than 2 hours.

2003 June 11 - .
  • Gauchito half-scale vehicle test failure. - . Nation: Argentina. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: Gauchito. Summary: Pablo de León (100 miles south of Buenos Aires, Argentina) attempts flight test of half-scale X-Prize vehicle, but an explosion caused destruction of the vehicle before launch..

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