Although the rocket launch field is rapidly becoming crowded, the same cannot be said for companies developing suborbital spaceplanes. This means there is plenty of room for startups like Dawn Aerospace, which has now completed five test flights of its MK-2 Aurora spacecraft designed to fly up to 60 miles above the Earth’s surface. The flights that took place at Glentanner Aerodrome on the South Island of New Zealand in July were to evaluate the car’s airframe and avionics.
Dawn’s vision is to build a car that can take off and land from a conventional airport and potentially operate multiple flights in and out of space every day. The obvious advantage of this method is that it is significantly less capital-intensive than vertical launches. The Mk-II is also the size of a compact car, less than 16 feet long and weighs only 165 pounds, which reduces costs. As the name suggests, the second iteration of the MK-2 car, but Don doesn’t plan to stop there. The company plans to build a two-stage-to-orbit Mk-III spacecraft that can be used to conduct scientific research and even capture atmospheric data for weather monitoring and climate modeling.
Although the Mk-II has a load of less than 3U or 8.8 pounds, the Mk-III will be able to carry up to 551 pounds in orbit. The MK-2 will eventually be fitted with a rocket engine to enable supersonic performance and high-altitude testing.
The company achieved a major milestone last December when it received an unmanned aircraft operator certificate from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority for flying the MK-2 from the airport.
It received a grant from the province of Jude-Holland in the Netherlands, with radar-based avionics and meta-sensing, to test a low-power sensor and detect radar systems. Powell told TechCrunch that the demonstration, which is scheduled to take place next year, would take place after some minor changes to the MK-2. New Zealand-Dutch space transport company Don Aerospace has operated five flights of the MK-2 Aurora submarine spacecraft. The flights were to evaluate the car’s airframe and avionics and were operated using a surrogate jet engine.
The campaign was run from Glentanner Aerodrome on the South Island of New Zealand. Taxi tests began in early July and there were five flights between July 28 and 30, reaching an altitude of 3,400 feet.
Dawn is building reusable and sustainable space technology suborbital and orbital rocket-powered planes that act much like a fleet of aircraft, landing at the airport and landing horizontally.
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