TUCSON, Ariz., Aug. 3, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Vector, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced the successful suborbital flight of its B0.002 test vehicle, a full-scale prototype of the company's Vector-R launch vehicle. This launch represents both the first customer-funded launch operation for the new space commercial launch industry, as well as the first launch out of the historic Spaceport Camden in Georgia, which was originally used by NASA in the 1960's for ground-based static fire testing of large solid rocket motors.
The flight test is particularly significant for Vector because the company is manifesting customer-sponsored experiments and payloads - a major achievement among the next generation of small launch vehicle developers. Test packages from Astro Digital, a leader in real-time satellite imagery data, and the Center for Applied Space Technology, an organization focused on space-based medicine research and applications, highlight Vector's mission to deliver increased access for organizations looking to launch microsatellites more affordably and at a higher frequency than ever before.
"Since our inception, Vector has been committed to making space open for business," said Jim Cantrell, CEO and co-founder of Vector. "Our historic launch today is a testament to the hard work of the Vector team, as well as support from NASA and Spaceport Camden. Together, we're on the fast-track to get to an orbital capability in 2018 and look forward to continuing momentum and unprecedented growth through the course of this year."
A primary objective of today's test was the demonstration and evaluation of a next-generation 3D additively manufactured engine injector developed through a collaborative research program with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. This injector was ground tested last month and an earlier version was used in Vector's initial B0.001 launch vehicle in May. Today's launch represents another milestone for Vector, as it was the first time spark igniter technology developed with University of Alabama - Huntsville and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center was attempted to start the booster main engine.
"This is a significant accomplishment for Vector and for NASA's initiatives to advance enabling technologies for suborbital and orbital small launch vehicles," said Ron Young, NASA Flight Opportunities Program Manager. "NASA's role in helping the industry to develop commercial small satellite launch capabilities through the STMD Announcement of Collaborative Opportunities (ACO) awards, enables companies such as Vector to offer this capability to the commercial market place sooner."
Earlier this year, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 1, also dubbed The Georgia Space Flight Act, to encourage commercial space activities in Georgia. Camden County has been working closely with Vector to put Spaceport Camden back on the map, not only because of its rich history of space innovation, but also to assert Camden as a top player in the competition for commercial launches. Vector conducted an initial set of ground operations at Spaceport Camden in March, 2017 to showcase the Vector-R launch system in anticipation of this groundbreaking launch.
"Vector's successful tests prove that it is an innovator in this dynamic field. Georgia looks forward to working with commercial space companies, like Vector, as we begin the next chapter of space exploration and innovation," said David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.
"By investing in Camden County to create the first commercial spaceport in Georgia - the only exclusively vertical, non-federal range on the East Coast - we are making a significant investment in our future. Georgia is ready to lead the nation, and the world, in building a workforce and an economy that is second to none", added Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle.
This most recent test of the Vector-R launch vehicle comes on the heels of a $21M Series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Shasta Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. With this most recent round of funding, Vector will accelerate the company's flight test series, develop its first GalacticSky satellites, open its Silicon Valley Headquarters and break ground on a rocket factory in Pima County, Arizona.
Founded by the original SpaceX founding team, Vector is a disruptive company that connects space startups and innovators with affordable and reliable launch services, enabling platforms and vehicles to access space at a price never before possible. For more information, visit http://www.vectorspacesystems.com/.
About Astro Digital
Astro Digital is enabling big data analytics from space. We monitor Earth from space with our constellation of multi-spectral Landmapper satellites and a dedicated software platform for imagery analysis and distribution. With 20 engineers based on NASA's Moffett Field, we're monitoring commercially active land use to model global change and analyze local activity for a variety of business needs. For more information, visit: www.astrodigital.com
About the Center for Applied Space Technology (CAST)
Operating out of Orange Park and Cape Canaveral, Florida, the CAST mission is to promote the innovative application of space-enabled and space-enabling technologies. In this capacity, CAST facilitates space medicine research in the environment of microgravity. Ongoing projects are focused on regenerative medicine, non-invasive crew monitoring, and long duration space flight. For more information, visit: https://www.c-ast.org/
NASA is seeking partnerships with U.S. companies focused on industry-developed space technologies that can advance the commercial space sector and benefit future NASA missions through the "Announcement of Collaborative Opportunity (ACO)" solicitation released by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. An STMD program, Flight Opportunities managed by NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, provides technical expertise and test facilities to aid industry partners in maturing key space technologies.
About Spaceport Camden
Our Vision is to develop a successful world class spaceport through a public-private partnership that establishes Camden County as the Commercial Space Center of the United States. Our Mission is to create the premier spaceport strategically positioned to provide economic diversity with a competitive advantage for the space sector, Camden County, the State of Georgia and the United States of America. For more information, please view our website at http://spaceportcamden.us/