Good Morning, everybody. I am Raymond Wright, Managing Director of Spacefleet Ltd.1 The sub-orbital market for science research payloads is worth around sixty million US dollars, annually. Spacefleet Ltd and its three consortium partner companies, intend to capture a significant proportion of that market using a space-going UAV. Launch-and-return missions will be far cheaper than traditional expendable rockets, since the vehicle will be fully re-usable. Currently, launches cost around one millionUS dollars each, and there are, worldwide, around sixtylaunches every year. We are aiming to capture at leastten percentof that market, by offering launches at considerably less than one million dollars, and we have scope to reduce prices further if the market demands.Our proposed launcher looks like this. Its hull will be about 10m in length, and around 9m in width at the tail, and around 1m in hull depth.
2 It will be powered by multiple rocket engines, using a homogenised fuel and oxidiser combination in the form of a paste, which makes for a simple design while giving us an engine with variable thrust, which can also be stopped and re-started. That will enable us to optimise the thrust profile for maximum efficiency throughout the ascent, and will make powered manoevering possible on the final approach to landing. The vehicle will take payloads of up to one hundred kilograms to a height of not less than one hundred kilometres, and return them to a runway landing.
3 The consortium members are all established experts in their fields:*Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing (TAM), in Georgia – makers of the Sukhoi Su-25 jet fighter* Laboratory of Advanced Jet Propulsion (LAJP), in Ukraine, which had one of their rocket motors approved for use in the ESA VEGA launcher* ESC Aerospace, in the Czech Republic – which designs and build a range of aerospace systems, including small UAVs TAM will build the hull. LAJP will provide the rocket engines, and ESC Aerospace will provide the automatic guidance, navigation and communication system. Spacefleet Ltd will coordinate the consortium and manage the project.Our next step is to develop an investable business case. In order to do that, we are looking for a partner to develop or support a mission analysis – either directly, or by funding it – and we are willing to consider equity stakes for the input provided. I'm also keen to get inputs on the current state of the small sub-orbital and sounding rocket market. If you are a big customer for this type of launch, there is the opportunity for participation giving a big financial saving.
4 The project has development potential. Using the same technology we intend to fly a very similar vehicle launched in a "triamese" configuration, where two booster vehicles loft an ascender vehicle and return to a landing, while the ascender continues to orbit, carrying a payload. Since the vehicle itself would enter orbit, it will not only be able to take small satellites into orbit, but ascend empty, to bring orbiting satellites back, or, to de-orbit space junk.This triple version of the vehicle would be able to loft a payload of a few tens of kilograms to low Earth orbit. This development, based on what would be a proven single vehicle, would open up the much larger market for the increasingly capable range of nano and microsats.
5 We can all agree that the cost of space transport needs to be brought down, in order to expand the market into areas where it is currently very expensive to operate.The EARL project will deliver that cost reduction in a series of commercially-viable incremental steps, using existing technology. We have assembled a team with the capability to build it, and are now looking for potential partners and customers.It’s affordableIt’s low-riskIt’s worth doingThank you very much
Spacefleet: UKSC 2013
A re-usable space-launch-and-return vehicle
Dr. R D Wright, Spacefleet Ltd, Devizes, UK