Ever since the Challenger disaster in February 1986, John Hollaway has been searching for a simpler, safer way to launch space vehicles.
He is a mining consultant, not a rocket scientist, and this may be an asset in an industry whose fundamentals have not changed since the 1940s.
Even more of an asset is the team of experienced professionals who are helping him.
He helped on his father’s gold mine in what was then Rhodesia while still at school, and after graduating with a science degree in 1960, he worked in mine assay laboratories in what was then Southern and Northern Rhodesia, moving into management on mines in Zambia and then in Zimbabwe.
As a consultant since 1981, he has undertaken over 400 assignments for clients in Africa and beyond, including the World Bank and the United Nations. All told he has worked in 23 sub-Saharan African states as well as twelve countries in Europe, South America and Asia. He has also written books on African development.
He developed and patented the Swala Reusable Space Launch Vehicle concept in 2015, and in 2016 came to the United Kingdom to turn it into reality.
To do this, he has had the invaluable support of a group of specialists in their fields:
- Steve Colyer of Force Engineering, Peterborough, for linear motors
- Dr Gary Johnson of Expert Technical Services, McGregor, Texas, for ramjets
- Michel Roche and Martin Williamson of Delta Aerospace, Malaysia, for design
- Martyn Wills of Cyrrus Aviation, York, for instrument landing systems.
“If you always do
what you always did,
you will always get
what you always got
…if at first the idea
is not absurd,
then there will be
no hope for it.”