Another smallsat rocket company enters the fray

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Capitalism in space: A new smallsat rocket company, EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies, has announced that it will do a test launch out of Spaceport America on May 5, the anniversary of Alan Shepard’s first suborbital flight, of a rocket it dubs SARGE.

The press release did not specifically say whether the test launch would be suborbital or not, though I strongly suspect so. Nor can I find any details about this rocket or the launch at the company’s website. The company sells itself as building reusable rockets, and the press release includes a video of a hover static fire test of one rocket. Other videos at the company’s website show short clips of other flights were an earlier rocket returned to Earth by parachute. They state that SARGE is an upgrade, so maybe they are going to use its engines to slow the landing.

Either way, the smallsat launch industry is getting very crowded. This company seems right now aimed at capturing the suborbital science and school portion of the market that is looking for cheap quick ways to get payloads up into space for very short periods at very low cost.



  • Tom Donohue


    There is a pretty good clip on YouTube that they posted about themselves.


  • I’m going to start selling bumper stickers: “Honk If You’ve Launched a Rocket”

  • Tom Donohue: The one thing they do not make clear in their videos is whether or not they have actually reflown those rockets, how many times, and the time intervals between each flight. It seems to me that if they launched a rocket, landed it, and were quickly able to fly it again, they would trumpet this loudly. Instead, they are vague about it. Makes me skeptical.

  • Trent Castanaveras

    EXOS is the spiritual and material follow-on of the original X-Prize contender Armadillo Aerospace, headed by John Carmack. It’s made up of members of the old team, plus a few new ones.

    A good informational wiki:

    All flights shown in the youtube video above are flights of the STIG vehicle; EXOS has yet to fly their descendant version, SARGE. Although designed and built to be reusable, all space shots of the STIG ended in vehicle destruction for various technical reasons, mostly to do with recovery equipment failures (i.e. one 2013 flight had the ballute rip free, and the parachute could not open).

    I met the Armadillo team at the 2006 Wirefly X-Prize cup; they’re a good bunch. I was rooting for them back then, and hopefully we’ll see a successful flight and recovery at Spaceport America on May 5th!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *