Skybolt 2 successfully launches

Posted on 21 Sep 2017 and read 704 times
Skybolt 2 successfully launchesThe largest rocket to be launched from the British mainland made a successful test flight, raising hopes that it could pave the way for commercial flights into space.

Privately funded and built by Manchester-based Starchaser (www.starchaser.co.uk), the Skybolt 2 took off from the back of a converted flatbed truck in Otterburn, a village 31 miles north-east of Newcastle.

The 8.2m-long carbon-fibre reusable rocket then ‘broke’ into three pieces and returned to earth.

Starchaser managing director Steve Bennett said: “We’re really pleased with that launch, the rocket went really well; it flew nice and high, exactly as it should do.”

Designed to fly more than 100km to the edge of space, Skybolt 2 is part of a scheme to test and develop space tourism rockets of the future. Onboard was a science project from Sheffield Hallam University, ‘commercial cargo’, a
number of video cameras and a stuffed toy dog (called Sam) that was launched on behalf of Morecambe Bay primary school.

Despite some huge players in the space tourism market, such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, Mr Bennett said he was confident his firm would have a part to play.

“One of the things we want to do is make space tourism a reality; this rocket was carrying various systems and experiments that will allow us to do that.”

Skybolt 2, which is sponsored by the University of Chester, will now tour thousands of schools as part of an educational outreach programme.

Mr Bennett’s next project — Nova 2 — is “a 12m rocket big enough to carry a person”; it is scheduled to be launched within the next 18 months.

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