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posted by martyb on Wednesday April 27 2016, @03:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the whatever-happened-to-Project-HARP? dept.

While SpaceX prepares its Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, newer companies are targeting smaller payloads:

[Aerospace veteran Jim] Cantrell left SpaceX in 2002, seeing the venture as too risky and unlikely to turn a profit. (It succeeded, he said, because Musk could not conceive of failure). However, even as SpaceX has become a dominant player in the large satellite launch industry, the small satellite industry has grown rapidly. The miniaturization of communications and imaging satellites has led to a new generation of rocket companies, such as Firefly Space Systems and Rocket Lab, which have built smaller launchers. Their rockets will generally heft payloads larger than 100kg into Sun-synchronous orbits 500km or higher.

Even with the rise of cubesats and other smaller technologies, payloads have continued to shrink. Over the last decade, Cantrell has watched this trend, seeing an opportunity to jump back into the launch business with a nano-satellite rocket. In late 2015, he called John Garvey, whose company Garvey Spacecraft Corporation had been working on such a rocket, and together they decided to found a new company called Vector. The company is developing a rocket with a reusable first stage that can deliver up to 25kg to a 400km Sun-synchronous orbit. Because of the groundwork already done by Garvey, Cantrell said Vector could begin orbital flights in 2018.

Also at TechCrunch.


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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Adamsjas on Wednesday April 27 2016, @07:19PM

    by Adamsjas (4507) on Wednesday April 27 2016, @07:19PM (#338096)

    Yes, lets hope these micro sats are in low enough orbits that drag alone will de-orbit them, or there is some requirement to reserve enough onboard fuel to de-orbit them at end of life.

    ISS has to be boosted occasionally because it orbits at between 330 and 410 km, and this is low enough for atmospheric drag to be an issue.

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  • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Thursday April 28 2016, @03:23PM

    by bitstream (6144) on Thursday April 28 2016, @03:23PM (#338473) Journal

    I think the problem is that they likely have small radar signature and are numerous. It feels like a bad idea.