Solid Rocket Manufacturing Facility Launches with a Bang
Ian Wright posted on October 27, 2017 |

There’s something undeniably futuristic about a world where companies describe themselves as “offering world-class access to space.” One of those companies, founded by a certain entrepreneur/EV magnate/undercover Martian, tends to overshadow the others, but it’s by no means the only game in town for getting to LEO and beyond.

Of course, all the companies seeking to open up the final frontier need a place to play, which is why Spaceport America was created. Located in the Jornada del Muerto desert basin, the 18,000-acre commercial spaceport is licensed by the FAA and owned and operated by the State of New Mexico via the Spaceport Authority.

(Feel like you’re living in the future yet?)

The spaceport plays host to big names, like Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, as well as lesser known companies, such as UP Aerospace and Cesaroni Aerospace. Though you may not be familiar with the latter two, you’ll likely be hearing more from them in the future, now that they’ve completed a new solid rocket motor development and manufacturing facility at Spaceport America.

The new facility, called the Space Propulsion Center (SPC) was completed in under a year and culminated in the test firings of three full-scale SpaceLoft solid rocket motors. The three motors were test fired using the facilities' new 30,000-lbs test stand. Two of the tests involved high-performance SpaceLoft motors that demonstrated increased propellent loading, while the third qualified a standard SpaceLoft motor for use on all sub-orbital flights scheduled for missions in 2018 and beyond.

(Image courtesy of UP Aerospace.)
(Image courtesy of UP Aerospace.)
Although the facility will be used to produce military-grade rocket motors for the U.S. government, it’s primary purpose is to support the development and manufacture of the UP Aerospace Spyder orbital launch vehicle, which the company is currently developing in collaboration with NASA. They’re aiming to set the Spyder’s total launch cost at $1 million to take a 20-lbs payload into Low Earth Orbit.

UP Aerospace is currently under contract to conduct four sub-orbital space-flown missions from Spaceport America in 2018. Three missions are scheduled for NASA, and the forth hypersonic mission for a commercial customer. A full-scale flight qualification test fire of the Spyder Stage One solid rocket motor is planned for September 2018.

For its part, Cesaroni Aerospace has two large propulsion contracts for over 100 military-grade solid rocket motors that the SPC will fill in 2018. The has been supplying solid rocket motors for UP Aerospace’s SpaceLoft sounding rocket program since 2005. In that time, the program launched a total of 10 microgravity flights from Spaceport America to altitudes exceeding 400,00 feet.

For a look farther ahead into our spacefaring future, check out Asteroid Mining – Who Wants to be a Trillionaire?

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