Following two days of outreach work by Starchaser Industries led by Starchaser CEO Steve Bennett, Starchaser’s 11m tall Skybolt rocket will be on display supporting the Seize The Moment lecture given by Helen Sharman.
Helen Sharman is a British chemist, and will forever be remembered as Britain’s first astronaut. Not
only did Helen Sharman have this honour, but she was in fact the first woman to go to the Mir space station. These days Helen is engaged in outreach and education work, and surely there couldn’t be a better role model for young girls to see the benefit of the study of sciences.
Helen’s lecture is taking place at Hartlepool Town Hall this evening, which ends an exciting couple of days for Hartlepool after Starchaser Industries have been carrying out education work at High Tunstall School. Hartlepool may be unfamiliar to many, but it’s actually where Ridley Scott (Director of The Martian film) studied!
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!
At 37 feet long, 4 feet in diameter, Starchaser’s Nova 4 rocket is the largest ever launched from the UK. It was launched from Morecombe Bay on a fully successful test flight. The booster housed a one-person capsule on top, which was successfully recovered, and had previously undergone a manned drop-test (quite unheard of to do a manned drop-test by the way, NASA doesn’t do that!)
The altitude of the rocket was restricted by the UK aviation authority (sigh…) and so it was only allowed to reach a few thousand feet, but had the capacity for 100,000 m, and it a precursor to larger rocket boosters with larger capsules for commercial manned flight.
The rocket itself, after making the historic flight, was taken to Starchaser’s facility in New mexico, and it now sits in the Almogordo New Mexico Space Musum
With various sponsors such as Dabs, the launch was a success, but the end of the X-prize, the rise of spaceplanes and then the economic global downturn saw Starchaser in a holding pattern for some time.
Starchaser’s next rocket is said to built on the success of Nova 4, with an increase in the size of the booster, and the capsule, as a further step on the way to commercial manned flight. You’ve probably figured out that that’s the rocket that we have as our header image, and it’s probably going to stay there until someone launches something bigger and more impressive from the UK – watch this space!