Progress Update: November 2016

It's a been a long time since the last website update, my apologies. But this was due to the excessive amount of work being performed on the ALV-2!

Design work on the ALV-2 is going very well, and in this report I will give some feedback on the progress.

Most importantly, the ALV-2 was publicly unveiled at the end of October 2016 at the Reinventing Space conference in London. A poster was presented on the ALV-2, which we will upload to the website soon. The ALV-2 was received well and it became clear that it is targeting a section of the small launcher market that is very promising indeed. And, best of all, it is almost unchallenged in this market...

Over the year a lot of design work has been happening on both the system-level design and on some of the critical sub-systems. On the system-level design we have done a significant amount of work on the aerodynamics and the control and stability of the returning booster. A large part of the work was focussed on sub-sonic flight of the ALV-2 booster, and especially on the design of the tail fins. After considering a multitude of options we now have a configuration that is stable and controllable in both wing closed and wing open modes. The wing opening transition is also a complex manoeuvre, and we are close to finalising the controller design for the transition.

Since the start of the year we also have a new rocket propulsion partner. This partner is a major aerospace organisation, and we are delighted that they bring their innovative rocket engine designs to the ALV-2 project. While on the subject of propulsion, we have also developed a propellant feed pump system that is significantly cheaper and simpler than a turbopump. Since the pump is positive displacement it also solves a range of issues related to propellant management. 

As a spin-off from the ALV-2 project we have developed a range of low-cost ground stations for all types of aerospace vehicles, from launch vehicles and sounding rockets to CubeSats and UAVs. These stations were originally developed as low-cost but very robust tracking antennas for the ALV-2, but have since found a significantly larger market in other applications. The first UAV station has already been built, and the prototype 2.4m dish S-band CubeSat station will be completed early in 2017. We are also planning a whole network of ground stations around the globe - watch this space. We will also be selling the ground stations on our website in due course.