Most of the private space-faring news these days seems to be courtesy of SpaceX, but there are other fish in the sea. Or maybe stars in the sky would be a more apt comparison here. However you want to explain it, SpaceX isn’t the only game in town when it comes to private spaceflight. Vector Space Systems might not be a household name, but they’re aiming to be very much like one of the very biggest household names: McDonald’s.
Vector is a company founded by one of the original founders of SpaceX, Jim Cantrell. He’s working with engineers who have previously worked at major aeronautical companies such as Boeing and Virgin Galactic. The company isn’t aiming to be all that similar to SpaceX to be honest. Vector has two rockets: the Vector-R and Vector-H. Each rocket is quite a lot smaller than you’d probably expect (the Vector-R comes in at around 40 feet tall), and only handles a relatively small payload. The Vector-R can take up to 145 pounds into lower Earth orbit while the Vector-H can heave 350 pounds into the sky.
Vector isn’t going to be resupplying the International Space Station anytime soon, but they will be quite the boon for what some call the “Small Satellite Revolution.” Companies are building smaller probes that can handle imaging or other smaller tasks. These smaller satellites still need to get into space, and it’s just not economically viable for these companies to go with a company like SpaceX, even with their significantly reduced costs — only $1.5 million or $3 million USD per flight. More often than not, these satellites would have to wait until they could piggy-back onto a larger launch, which could take months depending on timing.
The company hopes to launch hundreds of rockets per year at an even lower rate due to the smaller rocket and payload size. They’re perfectly happy with their two types of rockets, and just want to get everything ironed out so that they can launch them like crazy, as Jim Cantrell told The Verge:
We’re not going to be the guys developing new rockets. We hope to get these two vehicles running and milk the hell out of them… We’re going to be building the same thing over and over — like the McDonald’s of rocket business.
From a volume and income standpoint, that’s not a bad company to want to emulate. Vector has launched several test rockets, most recently this morning, which you can see in the tweet below:
— VECTOR (@vectorspacesys) August 3, 2017
Vector has a few more tests they’d like to run before really opening up to paying customers, but early indications show that there ought to be plenty of interest when the time comes… McDonald’s indeed.Source: The Verge
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