Thursday, December 20, 2007

SpaceDev Flies Prototype Hybrid Rocket Lunar Lander

Project is first to demonstrate applied throttling capability

POWAY, CA – SpaceDev, Inc. announced today that it has concluded the first phase of development on its hybrid rocket powered lunar lander prototype, with a successful flight test. The effort was supported by the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) led by Steve Durst, who envision using the technology to bring their ILO spacecraft to a soft landing on the South Pole of the Moon, where it will perform various astrophysics and communication functions.

During the flight test, the lander prototype vehicle’s four hybrid rocket motors were ignited and throttled via radio control, their thrust adjusted in real time to achieve lift-off, ascended to approximately 35 feet, hovered, descended, and landed softly. A video of the flight may be seen here - Lander Test Video.

This test marked the first ever of a hybrid rocket powered lander vehicle and demonstrated applied throttling, a key capability of SpaceDev’s reliable, safe, and non-toxic hybrid propulsion technology. “This is an exciting project that has shown not only the versatility of our hybrid motors, but also SpaceDev’s high levels of responsiveness and efficiency,” said Mark N. Sirangelo, SpaceDev’s Chairman and CEO. “We see many important applications for our throttleable rockets, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with ILOA as well as our research and development of lander vehicles.”