A new rocket enters the field


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A small company, aiming to build a small rocket system for launching nano-sized satellites, has successfully tested its rocket engine. Hat tip Clark Lindsey at NewSpace Watch.

Three points:

  • The company already has a manifest of customers wanting to launch student satellites. This illustrates again that a market exists, which also helps explain the decision of Virgin Galactic to propose building a small rocket for putting very small payloads into low Earth orbit.
  • This engine is another sign that the American launch industry is coming to life. Until SpaceX’s Merlin engine, there hadn’t been a new rocket engine built in the United States since the shuttle was built in the late 1970s. Now new rocket engines are popping up everywhere.
  • This rocket is being developed as part of an effort to win the Google Lunar X-Prize, more evidence that prizes are a very effective way to spur innovation and development.

This company’s existence and increasing technical success is more evidence that the industry of space exploration is going to get very exciting in the coming years, no matter what the government and NASA decide to do. In fact, it is also evidence that the government is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the exploration of space, something that I have wished for for more than three decades.

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One comment

  • Patrick Ritchie

    I’m glad to see interorbital testing their engine. It is worth noting that they have been around for a long time. The company was founded in 1996. They were initially hoping to compete for the Ansari X-Prize…

    Here is their website from 1999:

    http://web.archive.org/web/19991110010909/http://www.interorbital.com/

    Also, the RS-68 that powers the Delta IV is a new american engine developed as part of the EELV program 1990s. I believe the Merlin 1 is the first LOX/RP-1 engine in the US since the F1 (the RS-68 is LH2/LOX).

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