Designed to fly to space multiple times a day, the Mk-II is the latest suborbital vehicle in Dawn’s orbital launcher program. Capable of flying out of any airport with a 900m-sealed runway, it works by integrating with commercial airspace – just like any other plane. This capability is said to replace entire rocket factories and dedicated launch sites.
“We are working to demonstrate true reusability and a sustainable method of getting to space,” said Stefan Powell, Dawn Aerospace CTO.
The number of satellites launched is predicted to increase from hundreds to tens of thousands per annum within the next decade. Single-use rockets have already led to an increase in ocean contamination and debris. Increasing production rates to meet demand could present a significant environmental problem.
In 2018, Dawn demonstrated their capability of flying multiple times per day with their rocket-powered Mk-I vehicle. “We flew the same rocket powered vehicle five times in a single afternoon,” said Powell; “This type of repeatability is unprecedented in the world of aerospace.”
Dawn will offer research organisations and scientists the chance to fly payloads to 100km altitude three or four times per day, for as many days as needed. Starting with 3U payloads of 4 kg, each would see 180 s microgravity experiment time. This will increase as vehicle performance and flight altitude increase. Scientific payloads can be retrieved from the point-of-launch, enabling rapid development and experimentation according to customer needs.
“We’re opening up a whole new realm of research opportunities”, said Joshua Rea, Business Development at Dawn. “We are excited to see how the world’s researchers and payload designers want to use this abundant new resource. We want to hear from potential users about their applications and requirements, and discuss contracting mechanisms.”
First flights are poised to start later this year. Suborbital flights are planned for November, with bookings for commercial operations already underway for Q1 2021.
Applicants for Dawn’s Paint the Mk-II Spaceplane Competition should submit their design alongside a proposal for what they want fly by 31 March 2020.
For more information, please contact email@example.com or Twitter @DawnAerospace.