Astraius Makes Motors26th Jul 2022
Astraius Chairman Sir George Zambellas announced on 19th July that the company had signed contracts regarding rocket motors. Specifically, Astraulus selected Northrop Grumman for its first and second-stage rocket motors and Exquadrum for its upper-stage motors. Zambellas made the announcement at the Farnborough International Airshow. The company will launch its initial a
Astraius looks to become Britain’s first home-based horizontal satellite launcher. Virgin Orbit can claim pride of place regarding the U.K. after it launches from Cornwall Spaceport near the end of 2022. However, the company is U.S.-based. Also, Northrup Grumman, the supplier of first and second stage rockets, can leverage its experience as the successor to Orbital, the first U.S. horizontal launcher, with its Minotaur rockets dating back to the year 2000. Orbital, and its current successor Northrop Grumman Space Systems, concentrated solely on government satellite launches.
Astraius is unusually usual
Astraius captured attention by proposing an unusual launch platform. In short, Astraius uses an unmodified Boeing C-17 to carry the rocket to launch position. This stands in contrast with Virgin Orbit, which modified the existing fifth engine hard point on the Boeing 747. Northrop Grumman Space Systems uses a modified Lockheed L-1011. Furthermore, the Astraius rocket slides out of the C-17 via parachute. This simplifies the process of separating the rocket from the aircraft before the first stage ignites.
The announcements mark a development for Scotland’s space industry. Satellite building is among Glasgow’s strengths. Launch facilities in Prestwick will help turn Scotland into a hub for satellite building and launching similar to south-western England and north central Florida. In particular, Astraius will take advantage of the capacity found in Prestwick with mating satellites to their rocket assemblies.
Launch companies also see sites in Scotland as useful for vertical launch. However, the horizontal capacity demonstrated at Prestwick will be unique for the area.