Stoke Space Successfully Completes Hopper 2 Test

19th Sep 2023
Stoke Space Successfully Completes Hopper 2 Test

US-based launch company Stoke Space has successfully completed a 30 foot vertical take off and landing of their Hopper 2 test launcher. Stoke Space is on a mission to build a fully reusable first and second stage rocket that can handle a 24-hour turnaround launch schedule. The Hopper 2 test is the next step in this process, in which they identified that their “novel approach to robust and rapidly reusable space vehicles is technically sound.” Stoke Space said in a statement, “to reach that goal, we will now continue moving through our development program by increasing focus on our reusable first stage.”  

The Hopper 2 Test

During the Hopper 2 test, the launch vehicle’s second stage liquid hydrogen and oxygen engine ignited and lifted off the launch pad, reaching an altitude of 30 feet for 15 seconds. It then finished off the test by touching down on the planned landing zone. Stoke Space remarked that the test provided an “incredible amount of data” that will inform the transition: “from a technology demonstrator to a reliable reusable space vehicle.”  

After the test, Stoke Space said Hopper 2 successfully demonstrated a range of its novel technologies: the hydrogen and oxygen liquid engine, and a regeneratively cooled heat shield. Additionally, it demonstrated the vehicles differential throttle thrust vector control system, avionics, software and ground systems. 

Achieving Milestones

Stoke Space said the Hopper 2 run was the final test in its technology demonstrator programme, in which they achieved “several industry milestones”. That being, the spacecraft conducted the first test flight of a reusable Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing rocket that utilises differential throttling for altitude control. Secondly, Hopper 2 was also the first test flight of a reentry vehicle that’s enveloped in a regeneratively cooled heat shield. However, Stoke Space did note that the vehicle did not directly experience hypersonic atmospheric reentry heat. But, “it has successfully operated at 100% of the expected heat load in a simulated environment.”

Growth After Blue Origin

Both of Stoke Space’s founders, Andy Lapsa and Thomas Feldman, previously worked for Blue Origin – Jeff Bezos aerospace company. Being veteran’s of Blue Origins, both Lapsa and Feldman decided to construct a company that wouldwill build a fully reusable rocket that can handle tight turnarounds. 

Founded in 2019, the company has come on leaps and bounds. From raising $65 million of investments, to progressing from initial seed funding and creating an: “orbital-class vertical takeoff and vertical landing rocket”. Stoke Space is also marked as the second company to launch a prototype reusable upper stage rocket, in addition to the “third US company to develop a liquid hydrogen rocket engine.”

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