Caddo Mills-based Exos Aerospace Systems & Technologies could get a license to fly its new reusable Suborbital Active Rocket with GuidancE, or SARGE rocket in February after a successful “tie down test flight” at the Caddo Mills Municipal Airport.
Exos said the company also has completed design and build of its new platform, and expects a Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Travel, or FAA/AST, launch license determination by Feb. 14. The launch will be held at at Spaceport America, the commercial, FAA-licensed launch facility near White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
The announcement of the successful test and February date was made by Exos and Spaceport America.
Exos spokesperson Lizi Gregory said the FAA/AST license is similar to receiving a driver’s license.
“We need one to launch,” Gregory wrote in an email to Dallas Innovates. “The Feb. 14 date is the date that they are required to have completed the review and made a license determination.”
Exos plans to conduct its hover test in the next two weeks.
In the tie down test, Exos fired the rocket engine using steel cables to hold the rocket to the test pad, where it produced 5,500 pounds of thrust.
“We are excited to move two critical steps closer to launches at Spaceport America.”
Exos said the test process validates “the full integration of hardware, software, and human procedural interface from one test facility.”
Exos previously had successful launches and retrievals of an earlier version of the rocket.
“We are excited to move two critical steps closer to launches at Spaceport America,” said John Quinn, co-founder and chief operation officer of Exos, in a release. “We look forward to enabling space research, manufacturing, and educational opportunities for the world by providing frequent flights that provide fast and affordable access to Space. Since the 36-foot-tall, 20-inch diameter SARGE rocket is designed for reusability, its robust design is built to test by simulated test flying just 10-15 feet off the ground.”
Commercial flights by Exos would be a boon for New Mexico and Spaceport America.
“It is great to see such an innovative privately funded company entering these final phases of testing before launch of the Exos SARGE vehicle at Spaceport America,” Spaceport CEO Daniel Hicks said in the release. “This test will bring them one step closer to regular commercial launches and ultimately tenancy and planned O&M activities that can create new high tech jobs in New Mexico.”
EXOS WILL DO A HOVER TEST OF ROCKET NEXT
Next, Exos will do a hover test that will include vertical takeoff at low engine power and a test landing.
Here’s how the SARGE rocket works:
Once launched, it will take roughly 72 seconds to burn off its fuel and then it continues to coast.
It takes about three minutes to reach its maximum altitude of 62.5 miles. The SARGE spends three or four minutes at that altitude, enough time for the payload to react to the weightlessness.
Then, a parachute deploys and the rocket descends to Earth, landing within 200 or 300 meters of the launch site.
The SARGE rocket is designed so it can turn around and be launched again within 24 hours.
Exos’ customers are people “who want to ‘fly now,’ rather than a year from now, who need minutes of micro-Gravity time, and prompt access to their flown payload,” according to Exos.
Spaceport America is a purpose-built commercial spaceport — an FAA-licensed complex on 18,000 acres in southern New Mexico. Among its customers are Virgin Galactic, Boeing, ULA, UP Aerospace, and Exos.
Corporate giants and aerospace startups are flying high in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Exos is building two of the reusable rockets that can carry a wide variety of payloads for a fraction of what it costs to fly with NASA.
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