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Space Base in New Zealand Picked to Start Private Trips to Orbit

Space Base in New Zealand Picked to Start Private Trips to Orbit

I find it interesting that this idea – small launch vehicles for small payloads to LEO – has kept coming up over the past fifteen years but hasn’t yet worked out. This was the idea behind DARPA’s FALCON(US) and SpaceX’s Falcon 1 back in 2002-4 – the former petering out and the latter being canceled in favor of an EELV-class rocket which had a better business case.

But it still keeps turning up. Two years ago, DARPA had the ALASA program (which apparently is still running, in tandem with the smaller-scale SALVO project). Now this, and I seem to recall another private company planning drop-launches a la ALASA. With the emergence and popularity of cubesats, there is probably more of a market to exploit with inexpensive small launch vehicles than there was ten years ago — in hindsight, it seems the small launch vehicle idea was just a bit ahead of its time back then.


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