One time British X-Prize team Starchaser Industries, with offices in the UK and near the spaceport-to-be New Mexico’s Spaceport America, is to unveil its new rocket on 1 July, which it claims will be the UK’s largest when it launches from the island nation in September 2009
Below are Starchaser Industries’ founder Steve Bennett’s answers to my questions
I will post the pictures of the actual rocket on 1 July
What propulsion system will it use?
This first launch will be an unmanned “little Joe” type test to validate our capsule Launch Escape System (LES) in flight. The altitude will therefore be fairly low – circa 13,000ft (3,900m) – depending on what the [UK Civil Aaviation Authority] will allow. Nominally then, we’ll launch the booster on solid motors (which will produce an average thrust equivalent to about 5,000kg) before pulling the capsule clear using the capsule mounted LES, which will be powered by a 1,000kg thrust High Test Peroxide / HTPB hybrid rocket motor. The final altitude of the capsule will be about 18,000ft
The project also has an educational component in that it will visit 100 UK schools prior to launch as part of our “Starchaser Rocket Schools Fellowship” outreach programme to promote science and engineering in the classroom. Fellowship School parties will also be invited to view the launch and we will run a competition in order to choose one pupil to “press the red button” to launch the rocket.
Where do you intend to launch it from?
We have several launch sites under consideration.
How do you expect get through all the regulatory hurdles, all within 15 months?
We don’t see this as a problem since we won’t be going that high. Subsequent, higher altitude flights of course may present more of an issue but we are working on that!
And what happened to Rocketcity in New Mexico
On hold, though we still have the land and buildings out there.
And the solid rocket propulsion you embarked on?
We have been developing liquid and hybrid systems (making good progress with both) but we have not been working on solid motors