Prototype of reusable suborbital spaceplane from new startup completes five flights

Capitalism in space: Another rocket startup company, Dawn Aerospace, has completed a five flight test program of a prototype of its proposed reusable suborbital spaceplane, dubbed Aurora.

Dawn Aerospace has successfully completed five test flights of its uncrewed Mk-II Aurora suborbital spaceplane in the skies over Glentanner Aerodrome on New Zealand’s South Island. The flights were conducted by the New Zealand-Dutch space transportation company from July 28 to 30, 2021 at altitudes of up to 3,400 feet (1,036 m), with the prototype airframe fitted with surrogate jet engines.

The three-days of test flights to assess the airframe and avionics of the aircraft took place under a certificate issued to Dawn by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which allowed the Mk-II Aurora to operate from conventional airports without airspace restrictions after ground tests were completed.

The company claims this is a demonstrator for their fullscale two-stage-to orbit version that will take off from a runway and then launch small satellites into orbit.

Looks impressive, but my impression of this prototype is that it is a small scale model, only slightly more sophisticated and larger than a model airplane. That impression is reinforced by the video at the link, which provides no visible markers to judge size.

This company needs to get a lot more done if it wants to compete in this new market.