Yesterday evening, Starchaser Industries successfully launched the 4.2m tall Astra 1 rocket from Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire.
Below is a little teaser…
It has been some time since the last Starchaser was last in full swing, and so this event was significant in that it signals a return to form for the UK’s top rocketeer.
Steve Bennett first rose to prominence with the X-prize competition, and hold’s the record for the largest rocket ever launched from the UK. When Burt Rutan’s spaceplane concept won the X-prize and was taken up by Virgin Galactic, spaceplanes appeared to be the way forward. Starchaser’s momentum was slowed as Bennett’s designs were simpler ballistic rockets; investors and sponsors became harder to find, exacerbated by the global financial crash. The recent paradigm shift has been the slow realisation that ballistic rockets ARE still the best way to get people and other things into space, and those developing vehicles with wings now appear to have taken a longer route to success. Virgin, for example, reported that they are now not setting a date for a return to commercial manned spaceflight as we covered in a previous post.
Unlike the competition, who are working on spaceplanes, Starchaser industries has proved it can build and launch successful rockets without the billions of pounds required to develop the new technologies and materials for spaceplanes; now a major problem currently constricting its rivals.
Rumours are that Starchaser is gaining sponsorship to take their plans forward now with some momentum, and have bigger things planned for 2016. Watch this space!