Tag Archives: EXOS Aerospace

More suborbital private rockets in the news

Two news stories today about two different suborbital rockets built by private companies:

The first story outlines the results from the August 25 test flight of SARGE.

The rocket reached an altitude of approximately 28 km. Launch and recovery took place at Spaceport America on August 25th, 2018. The rocket carried nine payloads. The flight demonstrated the SARGE system’s reusability when the vehicle was recovered with damage only to sacrificial components. The test also demonstrated the capability of the autonomous control system and validated the preflight vehicle integration process.

They have designed SARGE to fly up to 200 times, and then plan to sell it to the military which will use it as a target in its own tests.

The second story describes a suborbital launch yesterday at Spaceport America. This suborbital rocket carried three NASA experiments, the most interesting of which was the first test of a heat shield designed to open like an umbrella.

Made out of thickly woven and highly heat-resistant carbon fibers, supported by semi-rigid ribs, the ADEPT system fits into existing vehicle launch systems, but expands when separated from the rocket into a configuration that allows it to perform its mission.

The ADEPT model tested Wednesday spread to 30 inches in diameter after separation. Venkatapathy said a diameter of 75 to 80 feet would be required to deliver a crew of seven or so human explorers safely onto the surface of Mars, which has a lower gravity pull than Earth.

He said a thicker carbon weave and different dimensions would be needed to deliver scientific equipment to the surface of Venus, a planet with a gravity pull nearly as great as Earth’s, making approaches hotter and faster.

Even if neither of these companies ever scale up to orbital rockets, they signal the change in how NASA does things. In the past NASA built its own suborbital rockets. Now, they are using privately-built rockets, which allows for competition and more innovation.

This is basically the same transition NASA is undergoing in its commercial manned program, going from being the sole builder and designer of spacecraft, enforced by a government-imposed monopoly, to merely a customer buying spacecraft from many private builders. It is a transition that can only generate good results in the future.

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EXOS completes successful test flight of reusable suborbital rocket

Capitalism in space: EXOS Aerospace yesterday completed a successful test flight of its reusable suborbital rocket, SARGE, at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The company’s first Suborbital Autonomous Rocket with GuidancE, or SARGE, rocket lifted off from Spaceport America in New Mexico at approximately 2:15 p.m. Eastern. After reaching an unspecified peak altitude, the rocket descended under parachute, landing about 15 minutes later a short distance from the pad. The rocket’s nose cone, descending under a ballute, landed several minutes earlier.

The company didn’t immediately disclose technical details about the flight, such as the peak altitude, but in a live webcast of the launch appeared to be satisfied with the vehicle’s performance, despite the vehicle appearing to veer from its vertical trajectory briefly after liftoff.

“This was a very successful test for us,” said John Quinn, chief operating officer of Exos, on the webcast. “We’re very excited that we had all of our recovery systems operational.”

It sounds as if they were mostly testing the recovery systems that will allow the rocket and payload to land safely in a condition to fly again.

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EXOS to test fly reusable suborbital rocket in New Mexico

Capitalism in space: EXOS Aerospace has chosen Spaceport America in New Mexico as the location where it will test fly its reusable suborbital rocket dubbed SARGE.

EXOS has completed the design, test and build; has received its FAA launch license and completed the final integration and test hovering for the rocket. A successful test flight is needed to solidify the company’s plans to use the technology as the basis for a planned reusable Orbital class vehicle, the company said in a pres release issued Tuesday.

“We are excited to enter into the testing phase of our SARGE platform at Spaceport America, and even more excited to reveal our plans for our Jaguar Reusable (first stage) LEO launcher,” EXOS COO John Quinn said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to enabling space research, manufacturing and educational opportunity for the world by providing frequent suborbital flights that provide fast and affordable access to space.”

Spaceport American CEO Dan Hicks said a successful test flight could lead to further testing and development at the spaceport.

EXOS is another one of the host of new smallsat rocket companies vying for expected large launch needs in the 2020s. For Spaceport America, a state-run spaceport that was built for Virgin Galactic and its hyped surge in space tourism that never happened and thus has seen practically no activity for the past decade, this announcement is helpful in its effort to attract other launch business.

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