In a first, startup blueShift Aerospace launched a rocket prototype powered by biofuel. The rocket, call Stardust 1.0, was launched from Maine despite freezing temperatures and some initial hiccups. Without even going a mile up in the sky, the rocket marked a major milestone for the company. The company is buoyed by the success and aims to launch tiny satellites in the future. bluShift CEO Sascha Deri said that ‘it went perfectly.” “It landed exactly where had planned. It could not have been any better,” Deri said after the launch from a snow-covered runway in Limestone, Maine.
‘Bio-derived’ fuel was used to power Stardust 1.0 and act as a testbed for the startup which has plans to launch small nanosatellites using the same technique in near future. The rocket was around 6 meters tall and could carry a payload of 8 kilograms or 17 lbs. The successful launch came after several attempts. The first such attempt was prevented on January 14 because of bad weather. During the second attempt, the lifting off was stopped because of a pressure issue with an oxidizer valve. The company even battled harsh temperature and network issues at another attempt.
However, the success came in all glory at the third attempt when Stardust 1.0 launched off and flew up to the height of 4,000 feet. At this, the rocket deployed a parachute to fall back to the earth. Deri said that he was delighted by the liftoff. bluShift Aerospace was founded in 2014 by a team of just eight persons. Their aim was to launch small satellites from Maine. The company aims at providing a bespoke mission to companies who want more flexibility while launching their nanosatellites. This will give them more control over their orbit which is hardly available when launched as a secondary payload with big launch providers like Rocket Lab and SpaceX. Deri said that they want to be a true nano-launch service for smaller satellites.