In just six months, located in Kent, Washington Stoke space technology inc. A blank piece of land in Moses Lake, Washington, has been turned into a bridgehead for the construction of fully reusable rockets, optimized for satellite launches.
Co-founder and CEO Andy Lapsa (Andy Lapsa) told GeekWire, “As recently as April, it was still a barren desert. We were able to get all the facilities up and running for long-term operation, liquid hydrogen, The liquid oxygen rocket engine is tested there.”
The 2.3-acre test facility at Moses Lake Airport is already in action: Last month, Stoke Aerospace completed a full-scale second-stage manufacturing demonstration of its yet-to-name rocket. The two-year-old start-up company also conducted a full-power test firing of the components of its two-stage rocket engine, which Lapsa calls a “three-piece” thrust chamber triplet.
“We actually did it on time and under budget. I’m very proud of that,” said Lapsa, a veteran of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space adventure. “In our industry, you don’t hear too many words like this.”
Like Bezos and his billionaire rivals at SpaceX, Elon Musk, Lapsa and his teammates at Stoke Space are chasing the dream of a fully reusable rocket. Their goal is to reduce the cost of getting into orbit and start a new wave of space applications.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets have demonstrated how the first stage can be reused, but even these launch systems will discard the second stage after being used once. Reducing costs is what SpaceX’s interstellar spacecraft development plan is all about. Blue Origin is also pursuing the reusability of the second phase because it works on its orbital-grade New Glenn rocket, and its program code is Jarvis Project.
Lapsa praised the larger launch companies for their commitment to full reusability, but said his company is taking a different approach.
“The first thing that started was the second stage,” he said. “The entire system is designed to be 100% reusable at a high pace, and I think the industry is still looking for this solution.”
When Lapsa talked about high-tempo, he meant being able to launch the same low-cost rocket every day without having to go through detailed inspections or replacing components—just refuel and lift off according to commercial aviation models.
It is too early: Lapsa said that so far, the full-power thrust chamber ignition has not lasted more than 10 seconds, and he is reluctant to provide detailed information about the thrust level.
“We started with these thrust chambers,” he said. “We have turbomachinery and will be tested soon. We will enter a complete engine test, which will be amazing. In order to be able to do this, we have more facilities to do. At the same time, we Will work on the entire stage.”
Lapsa stated that the staff of Stoke Space has increased to 18, of which More employees in the futureThe team includes people with experience in Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Spaceflight Inc., who will have to work hard to comply with the schedule.
“We will test flight this before the end of next year,” Lapsa said.
Lapsa is not ready to say where the flight test will take place, but he did give some hints about the flight profile. Like Starship, they will conduct vertical take-off and vertical landing tests. Unlike Starship, the descent does not require abdominal flips or other exotic movements. “Our entire profile will have an acceleration vector along the centerline axis,” Lapsa said.
One of the key technologies is related to the secondary heat shield: Stoke Space plans to build a malleable metal heat shield from everyday materials instead of using ceramic tiles.
Ultimately, Stoker Space’s goal is to develop a completely reusable rocket with a fast turnover rate and very suitable for satellite launches.
“Starship-class vehicles are good for certain things, such as colonizing Mars,” Lapsa said. “But I think when you only focus on the satellite market, few customers want to fly so many things at the same time. Few customers are willing to ride with them. We think this has become a considerable headwind for the industry.”
Does Stoke Space have enough funds to achieve its goal of 100% reusable rockets? SpaceX is considered Spend billions of dollars on Starship, And Jeff Bezos has said that he will cash in 1 billion US dollars worth of Amazon stocks to fund Blue Origin every year. In contrast, Stoker Space has so far received $9.1 million in seed funding, as well as development grants from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the US Space Force.
Lapsa said that Stoke Space is looking for different ways to bring in more funds, but for now, entering the next phase of the second phase of development is the top priority.
“Our grant method is that if there is an opportunity to help attack what we are already doing, we will continue to work hard,” he said. “But other than that, we will keep our heads down – and try to move as fast as possible.”