BRUNSWICK, Maine, USA (AP) – A Maine company developing a rocket to launch small satellites into space successfully conducted its first major test Sunday.
The Brunswick, Maine-based company bluShift Aerospace launched a prototype rocket 6 meters (20 feet) long, reaching an altitude of just over 1,219 meters (4,000 feet) in a first launch designed to test the systems of propulsion and control.
The rocket carried a science project by Falmouth High School students that will measure flight parameters such as barometric pressure, as well as a special alloy that is being tested by a New Hampshire company. It also carried a Dutch dessert called a stroopwafel, in homage to its Amsterdam-based parent company. Organizers of the launch said the items were included to demonstrate the inclusion of a small charge.
The company, which launched from the northern Maine town of Limestone, home to the former Loring Air Force Base, is one of dozens of companies racing to find affordable ways to launch so-called nanosatellites. Some of them, known as Cube-Sats, can be only about 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters.
Sascha Deri, CEO of bluShift, said the company is committed to becoming a faster and more efficient way to get satellites into space.
“There are many companies that are like freight trains into space,” Deri said. “We are going to be the Uber that goes into space, where we will transport one, two or three payloads profitably.”
Another aspect that makes the bluShift rocket different is its hybrid propulsion system.
It depends on solid fuel and a liquid oxidant that passes either through or around the solid fuel; the result is a simpler and cheaper system than that used by rockets that rely on liquid fuel, said spokesman Seth Lockman. The fuel is a proprietary blend of biofuel from farms, Deri said.
Associated Press reporter Cody Jackson in Miami contributed to this report.