Small Launch Vehicles

Vertically launched, Small Launch Vehicles ("SLV") represent a possible source of activity for Spaceport Camden. Many older rocket configurations already exist for military and Low Earth Orbit ("LEO") satellite launches and experimental use. The vast majority of the 16,000 launches from Wallops Island Virginia have been of this type.

 

Most of the NewSpace companies trying to get a share of the pie are developing horizontal launch or piggy-backed rockets that cannot be flown from Spaceport Camden. However, they are part of the multi-billion dollar market touted by Spaceport proponents.

GEORGIA STARTUP with possibilities

The majority of principles in Generation Orbit, an Atlanta-based NewSpace company are Ga Tech graduates. It is this principle of growing Georgia business that is driving the spaceport efforts in Camden and it is a good idea, but is it enough to support a spaceport? In fact, GO is a good example of how the Aerospace Industry’s employees and revenue are merged with the nascent Astrospace industry to produce huge potential numbers. Aerospace includes the aircraft industry, both commercial and military manufacturers since they are mostly one-in-the-same. Gulfstream is a leading, Savannah-based business jet manufacturer. GO is developing a small rocket capable of carrying a 100 pound payload to low earth orbit. The GOLauncher1 rocket is attached to a Gulfstream III aircraft for initial loft to altitude. The GO system will use a business jet as part of its system and therefore the industry can claim that Gulfstream is also part of NewSpace. True, but misleading about the size and potential of NewSpace since Generation Orbit is leasing a plane last made in 1986.

 

Spaceport Camden cannot be used by GO since the GOLauncher system requires a runway; the planned launch site will be Cecil Field Airport near Jacksonville, Florida.

Swiss Space Systems

The S3 SOAR spacecraft is to be carried aloft piggybacked on an Airbus aircraft, then launched to space. S3 has been very active in securing partners for this project, but so far, they have no space vehicle.

 

There was much fanfare in Mach 2014 when S3 signed an agreement with Kennedy Space Center to use the Shuttle Runaway for operations.

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However, sources say Swiss Space Systems has faced mounting financial difficulties throughout 2015, including rising debts and an inability to meet payroll. The problems began early in the year with a paycheck that came late. Regular paychecks were then suspended, with some employees receiving partial payments well below their salaried amounts on an intermittent basis when S3 was paid for contracted work it performed.

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But that has not stopped them from planning Spaceport operations in Malaysia, Morocco and Croatia. Spaceport Camden cannot be used by S3 since the SOAR system requires a runway.

DARPA ALASA

Airborne Launch Assist Space Access, or DARPA ALASA is a canceled program of the US defense technology agency DARPA "designed to produce a rocket capable of launching a 100-pound satellite into low Earth orbit for less than $1 million." The ALASA rocket was to be carried aloft under a military jet before being jettisoned and fired into space. The program was conceived, then announced in 2011, and funded development work began in 2012. The project was terminated in late 2015.

 

Spaceport Camden could not have been used by S3 since the ALASA system requires a runway.

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic has moved LauncherOne manufacturing from the company’s prior facility to a new one in Long Beach, California. In addition to existing staff that moved to Long Beach, a job fair held March 7 at the Long Beach site attracted between 5,000 and 6,000 job applicants, Whitesides said, seeking about 100 open positions.


The decision to move LauncherOne work to Long Beach was based on a desire to access a larger potential workforce than possible in Mojave, a small town about 150 kilometers from Los Angeles. Unlike the development of SpaceShipTwo, which was done in conjunction with Scaled Composites in Mojave, Whitesides said Virgin Galactic was free with LauncherOne to find other locations in southern California with a larger pool of qualified workers to draw from.

 

Spaceport Camden could not be used by Virgin Galactic since their system requires a runway. Spaceport America in New Mexico is awaiting the first flight.

Super-Strypi Might Have Used Spaceport Camden

Super Strypi, a small solid fuel three-stage rocket developed by the U.S. Air Force Operationally Responsive Space office, failed shortly after its inaugural launch on November 4, 2015. The rocket flew straight for about 45 seconds before appearing to develop a coning motion. The video feed provided by the University of Hawaii suddenly cut off at about the 60 second mark. Subsequent ground based videos published on YouTube showed the rocket breaking up after a minute of flight. Fortunately, the maiden flight was directly over the Pacific Ocean.

 

As the only vertically-launched rocket in this group, the Super-Strypi could have flown from Spaceport Camden. The failed design may be turned over to commercial operators for further development. 

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