Vector Space Systems, a Micro Satellite space platform enterprise comprised of new-space industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch, announced May 19 the successful test of its second stage engine, a major milestone in advance of the company’s first sub-orbital test flight as Vector Space Systems this summer.
The test, which took place in Mojave, Calif., May 14, featured the company’s second stage high-performance engine for its launch vehicle. Employing 3D printed components, the engine produces 500 pounds of thrust with a high specific impulse for maximum fuel efficiency. This development test was one in a series of second-stage engine tests leading to flight qualification in 2017.
Officially announced in May 2016, Vector Space Systems builds upon 10 years of research and more than 30 sub-orbital launches, and was formed to connect space startups with affordable and reliable frequent launch-enabling platforms and vehicles at a cost point never before possible for accessing space. Featuring a roster of technology and aerospace veterans to provide industry insight, expertise and leadership, Vector Space Systems plans large-scale sub-orbital test flights by 2017, with orbital launches scheduled for 2018.
“Led by Vector CTO, John Garvey, the Vector propulsion team has made tremendous progress in a very rapid manner, building and successfully testing an engine using 3D printed components within two months of the company’s founding,” said Vector Space Systems co-founder and CEO Jim Cantrell. “The rapidity and success of this test sets the standard for the swift development of our launch vehicle and furthers our mission to revolutionize the way commerce accesses and utilizes space.”
Vector Space Systems continues to aggressively conduct tests of their first and second-stage engines, the mobile launch platform, and is creating full-scale vehicle engineering models. In addition, smaller sub-orbital test launches are planned for Summer 2016 to continue demonstrating functionality and flight operations.