Vector Space Systems plans launches from Kennedy

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The competition heats up: Vector Space Systems will this weekend erect a test version of its two-stage Vector-R rocket and launch platform for display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center.

CEO Jim Cantrell also “will announce the intention of the company to use the launch facilities in the future,” according to Space Florida. The two-stage Vector-R — the “R” is short for Rapid — stands 42 feet tall and measures 42 inches around, and is designed to deliver micro-satellites weighing up to about 135 pounds to orbit. The rocket is expected to debut in 2018, flying up to six times. The company eventually envisions launching 100 or more times a year.

Much of this sounds like a bit of PR aimed at the public, not an actual flight plan. However, if they are prepping for an eventual launch at Kennedy there is also no reason they shouldn’t hype that fact beforehand.



  • LocalFluff

    Vector-R, R as in Wrong. Maybe their marketing department is inspired by Russian naming, like Spektr-R, the woRst named space telescope yet.

  • Dick Eagleson

    The Vector Space vehicles are small enough that launch facilities for them would not be a problem at any existing U.S. spaceport.

    Vector already has a deal with the Kodiak site in Alaska. Given that smallsats skew toward wanting polar or sun-sync orbits, this an excellent fit for them. Given the recent demise of LockMart’s Athena vehicle, Vector’s birds are now the only ones likely to be launching from Kodiak for awhile.

    Frankly, absent New Space smallsats and launchers, Kodiak would be toast by now. If Vector can achieve its hoped-for 100/yr. launch cadence, more than half of these missions are likely to go from Kodiak. A launch every few days, even of Vector-size vehicles, would absolutely make Kodiak as a full member of the Big Boys Space Club.

    But Vector aims to be an all-azimuth provider so it needs an equatorial-friendly launch site too. Given the small size of its vehicles, Wallops would, at first blush, seem a good fit. But Vector wants to attain a high launch cadence. Wallops has a small perimeter and much closer neighbors than other U.S. launch sites. Scuttlebutt is that said neighbors are more NIMBY-ish too. Frequent launches, even of small vehicles, could engender troublesome pushback from locals.

    Going to Canaveral would offer Vector several advantages:

    (1) No close neighbors. Given that even the distant neighbors are long-used to EELV-scale launches every other week or so, and are getting used to SpaceX’s double sonic booms as their 1st stages come home to mama, Vector Space launches are going to fall more into the, “Are you sure that was a rocket launch?” category.

    (2) More, roomier and better-appointed currently disused pad facilities to choose among. Even the old IRBM and sounding rocket-size facilities are plenty big enough to handle Vector’s vehicles. Lots of sprucing up and updating needed, to be sure, but little or no heavy construction work.

    (3) The available assistance of the very booster-ish – in both senses of the word – Space Florida organization to help grease wheels, cadge a bit of government money and generally pave the way. I don’t know if there are awards for business promotion organizations, but if there are, Space Florida deserves to be the Meryl Streep of local development assistance.

    (4) Better orbital mechanics as, being closer to the equator than Wallops, Canaveral boosts the lift capacity of Vector’s vehicles by a modest, but useful, amount.

    (5) Higher public profile. That completely explains the choice of Canaveral for Vector’s new display. The company wants to raise its profile with both do-it-for-a-living space people and with the space-enthused general public. Canaveral is the 800-pound gorilla of space-related tourist attractions. Vector is putting up its display there for the same reason film studios put up posters for coming attractions in theater lobbies; the fans are already coming to see something else, so introduce yourself and tell them you’ll be showing up for real not too far down the road.

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