Rocketry: * RLV
Countdown * RLV
X-Prize Hunt Goes Nova
Launch of the Nova reusable rocket
on November 22, 2001.
Photo copyright: Starchaser
The British rocketry group Starchaser
Industries launched its largest rocket to date on November
22, 2001. The unmanned Nova,
which stands 11m (37 feet) high and weighs 747kg (1643lb),
rose to about 1,525 m. on the thrust of its solid rocket motors.
The capsule and booster separated
and parachuted back to earth. Apparently the booster parachutes
got entangled and there was some damage. However, the group
reports that " the launch was 85% successful" in
its goals of testing the launch control system, airframe,
and other components. Two more flights are said to be planned.
The primary goal of the project
is the development of the Thunderbird vehicle which aims to
win the X-prize
by taking a pilot and 2 passengers to 100km in altitude.
a lecturer at Salford University, leads the Starchaser project.
Although part of the project is now commercialized, it welcomes
public participation via membership in its Starchaser Club.
Students at Salford also can obtain course credits working
on the many aspects of the project.
There have been various criticisms over the
past year or two of the project coming especially from other
amateur rocketry groups in England. See, for example, the
rocket launch is 'suicidal' - BBC - June.27.01.
These groups believe a more incremental approach is required
before taking on the risk of piloted flights. The British
group, in fact, "successfully tested the most powerful
rocket motor ever launched from the UK" the same week
that the Nova flew: British
experts claim rocket success - BBC - Nov.22.01
The launch and recovery of such
a large vehicle as the Nova certainly adds considerable credibility
to the Starchaser group's goals. Going the next step to the
Thunderbird, though, will be a big one. For example, the propulsion
system will require liquid fueled engines rather than a cluster
of the relatively much simpler solid motors used on the Nova.
Mircorp Offers the
Ultimate Grand Prize
efforts to develop a space tourism business got a boost from
a recent agreement with an Asian media company to send TV
game show winners to the International Space Station: MirCorp
To Launch Game Show Winners Into Space in 2003 - Space.com
- Nov.21.01 .
This follows on with similar
arrangements with the German Space
Commander program that plans to send game winners
to space. (There was also a plan to create a Survivor style
program on the US NBC network. First called Destination Mir,
it became Destination Space after Mir was deorbited. However,
the web site for this project has disappeared, indicating
the project is most likely canceled.)
If the contestants are blocked
by NASA from visiting the ISS, they will have to be satisfied
with a few orbits in a Soyuz.
Eventually, Mircorp wants to
build its own small station for such commercial ventures:
announces plans for private space station - Spaceflight Now
[December 5, 2001 - find more
info about this project in the Space