Archive for January, 2016

The goal of project CANOPUS is to cut the cost of access to the mesosphere and to space for small payloads. We have just completed the design of the the concept of operations and feasibility study phase of CANOPUS and the simulation above is the result of this study.

The fundamental idea is to elevate the ‘launch pad’ of a small, low cost rocket (atop which sits a 1-3kg payload) into the upper troposphere, thus ‘bypassing’ the dense lower layers of the atmosphere, wherein most of the fuel of a conventional rocket would be burnt. Our simulations have shown that even a small, two-stage, solid-fuelled rocket would be able to lift a CubeSat scale payload over the Kármán line for a suborbital flight with an apogee of up to 150km.

A very cheap way of elevating the launch platform to the required altitude is via a high performance optionally piloted glider – it requires no special ground infrastructure and it can be deployed at very short notice.

With the feasibility study complete, the next stage of project CANOPUS is the development of a full scale demonstrator.

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