Why use two rockets to go to orbit when you only need one?
This probably was the thought that inspired ARCA Space Corporation when they too rediscovered that an Aerospike Engine is powerful enough to create a rocket that only needs one stage to reach orbit. At One Stage To Space, we couldn’t agree more:
According to their website :
“The Haas 2CA, a Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) rocket, is able to launch 100 kg (220lbs) of payload to low earth orbit. The rocket has an exceptional mass ratio, and it has one stage that is fueled with hydrogen peroxyde and kerosene. This is made possible by the use of composite materials and dense propellants. The Executor, a linear aerospike engine, is the most advanced rocket engine currently under development for orbital launchers. Because of its ability to auto adapt to the altitude pressure drop, it promises optimum performance at virtually all flight levels, allowing the use of up to 30% less fuel than any other rocket engine. The thrust vectoring control is achieved by throttling the 16 combustion chambers, changing the individual chambers mixture ratio. This eliminates the heavy and complex gimbaling system for the engine. When the Haas 2CA rocket launches, it will be the first rocket in history to place itself entirely into orbit. This opens new frontiers for exploration of the Solar System as the rocket can be refueled in-orbit and re-utilize its aerospike engine, thus eliminating the need for additional upper stages.”
Although the claim that they would be the first rocket to place itself entirely into first orbit technically is incorrect (as many of the larger legacy rockets were able to reach orbital velocity with their first stage), it would be true that they would be the first aerospike engined rocket to demonstrate this feat.
ARCA Space Corporation is generous too, as the chief designer wants you to own a part of his company. Of course, you would have to buy some of the shares they have on offer. Not a bad idea in an industry that is enjoying a great renaissance now that Space Agencies, NASA, ESA and even The Chinese Space Agency (CNSA), and private companies like SpaceX, Boeing and Blue Origin are all funding the required rocket hardware and openly discussing plans to start colonizing the Moon, Mars and Outer Space. In recent years Sci-Fi aficionados, movie goers and Netflix customers are also enjoying a great string of space themed movies; like the well received “Gravity”, “Interstellar”, “The Martian” and “Alien: Prometheus”, “Hidden Figures” or even the Netflix space drama series “The Expanse”. All these movies and shows blend fantasy with ever more believable hardware in a realistic space environment or solar system. The fact that the real life SpaceX now received USD 150 million from a still secretive duo, to send them on the the first commercial trip around the moon in 2018, only helps to feed the hype.
Today, except for buying shares in Boeing, there is no possibility for the private citizen to get a piece of the pie or help these efforts forward, as the other players are not on the stock exchange. Now that Space access is getting cheaper and a larger customer base is dealing with a bottle neck in launch capability, ARCA’s wish that private citizens will invest in their solution for an economic means to get into orbit might not be too large of a gamble nor an insurmountable risk for any small investor. Hoping to raise USD 2 million in this this public investment round at about USD 200 a share, their goal might just be achievable.
At One Stage To Space, we applaud this approach. Our vehicle will also be a single stage to orbit system. However, we will ultimately use a variant of the conformal Aerospike engine, not a linear aerospike, and we have the benefit of a more flexible and growth capable system, designed for reuse.
We wish ARCA Space Corporation the best of luck and we hope they will be ultimately successful. Although we differ in the engineering solution chosen we fully support their demonstration of the capabilities of an aerospike as a crucial part of any a single stage to orbit system.