A Maine company that is developing rockets to propel small satellites into space passed its first major test on Sunday.
Brunswick-based bluShift Aerospace Corporation launched a 20-foot (6 meter) prototype rocket and hit more than 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) in its first run to test the rocket’s propulsion and control system.
It conducted a science project conducted by Falmouth high school students, which will measure flight indicators such as air pressure, special alloys being tested by the New Hampshire company, and the Dutch dessert stroopwafel to pay tribute to the parent company based in Amsterdam. The organizers of the launch said that these items were included to demonstrate that they contained a small payload.
The company was launched from the small town of Limestone in northern Maine, where the limestone was once the site of the former air force base. It is one of dozens of races to find an affordable way to launch so-called nanosatellites. Some of them are called “cube satellites” and can be as small as 10 cm by 10 cm.
Sascha Deri, CEO of bluShift, said the company hopes to be a faster and more efficient way to transport satellites to space.
Deri said: “There are many companies that go into space like freight trains.” “We will become Uber in space. We can carry one, two or three payloads profitably.”
Another aspect that makes bluShift’s rocket unique is its hybrid propulsion system.
It relies on solid fuel and liquid oxidizer passing through or surrounding the solid fuel. Spokesperson Seth Rockman said that the result is a simpler and more affordable system compared to a pure liquid fuel rocket. Delhi said the fuel is a proprietary biofuel blend purchased from farms.
“This is a very non-toxic fuel, and what I want to say is that I can give it to one of my two young daughters. I swear it will not cause any bad effects on them,” he said, “Therefore, It is very non-toxic. It is carbon neutral.”
The goal is to create a small rocket that can launch a 30 kg (66 lb) payload into low Earth orbit, more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) above the surface of the earth. Rockman said the orbit could be realized in 2024.
The company has spent US$8 million (approximately Rs 580 crore) on research and development, part of which comes from NASA.
A representative from bluShift said that due to the dense population in the area, they are not expected to launch from Brunswick, where the headquarters are located.
Due to the weather, the trial shot in limestone was postponed in early January. The launch on Sunday was also hampered by several false starts, but event organizers described the final launch at 3 pm (1:30 am US Standard Time) as “perfect.”
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