Vector Space Systems Expect to Provide Hundreds of Launches Per Year
Alexander Neil / 3 years ago
Going to space is an expensive affair and requires a lot of planning in advance. But what if it didn’t have to? Founded by two SpaceX founding members, Jim Cantrell, and John Garvey, Vector Space Systems is a new commercial spaceflight startup that hopes to answer this question by providing not the tens of launches that other companies provide, but potentially hundreds of launches every year on demand.
Vector Space Systems doesn’t expect to be able to go head-to-head with commercial space giants such as SpaceX but instead hopes to simply the launch process, removing the need for launches to be ordered years in advance and contain multiple deliveries, sub-deliveries, modules and experiments all on one rocket. If the traditional launch module seems more like a space bus, then Vector see themselves as a kind of space taxi, providing deliveries to space on-demand.
Vector’s rockets are small and capable of carrying payloads of 20-40 kg as frequently as every week or even every few days, allowing both prices and launch timetables to be flexible. With hundreds of small satellites being launched last year, there is a clear market for the ability to launch the orbital vehicles more quickly and affordably. There is still a limit to how cheap and flexible the launches can be, but customers who wish to launch a small space vehicle would be able to do so more easily. This launch frequency also has other benefits, such as removing the need to make the contents of launches as small as possible so as to fit into a shared launch capsule and with launches being frequent, the hardware to be launched can be finalized far closer to the time of launch.
The firm is currently in the process of designing and testing their rockets, having already made dozens of sub-orbital launches using the unnamed space vehicles, with an orbital delivery test being the next step. Just like SpaceX and Blue Origin, Vector’s launch vehicle’s first stage is reusable, although it makes use of an aerial recovery system that Cantrell was excited about, but did not reveal any details. The first real flights for the vehicle are currently expected to take place in 2017.
It is exciting to see another commercial space company that aims to carve out their own niche in the growing commercial space sector. They may never be quite the headline-makers that companies like SpaceX are, but Vector is definitely committed to making space launches cheaper and more accessible for all, with both private investors and the US government providing investments showing there is a growing belief in such a field.