In California's windswept Mojave Desert, the Roton Rocket is the largest hope for private enterprise on the final frontier.
As CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, the strange-looking, reusable spacecraft rolled out of its hangar for the first time.
One of the top investors in the Roton is best-selling author Tom Clancy. He says it will open space to everyone.
"Dreams are what change the world. We're going to see a dream today," Clancy said.
With rotor blades on top, this rocket looks like something out of a science fiction writer's dream.
The Roton and its crew will take off from a commercial airport, in order to deploy satellites or resupply the space station.
The rotor blades are deployed on landing, slowing the craft down as it reenters the atmosphere, touching down like any helicopter.
NASA once unsuccessfully experimented with space rotors in the Apollo program.
Supporters of private space enterprises predict if the Roton is a success, it will make moon bases and orbiting hotels a reality.
And they hope that's just the beginning.
Consumers could benefit from the Roton if it is able to launch satellites into low-earth orbit, in terms of lower priced paging and internet services.
The Roton could also make space tourism a reality.
"We can begin the incredible, fantastic destiny that we have to take life to worlds now dead, to spread this civilization beyond this world," said Rick Tumlinson, of the Space Frontier Foundation.
Roton test flights are due to begin this summer, with the first orbital flight about 18 months away.
The Roton's makers say within five years Americans could be buying rocket rides into space.