Projects: Lift off with an update from the team building the Astra-X
The UK’s pioneering rocket company Starchaser founded in 1992 is known for the UK’s biggest rockets and WEST SYSTEM® epoxy plays a role in supporting Starchaser’s efforts to get passengers into space. Find out what’s been happening since our last update.
Back in 2020 the Astra-X, formerly known as ‘Nova 2’ was close to launching. The launch was eventually delayed due to Covid, Brexit, and some regulatory issues, albeit the delay has had a silver lining for the Starchaser team “this has however given us more time to test and upgrade some of the internal systems, which as engineers, we’re happy about”. Upgrades included a completely rebuilt parachute deployment system. Critical parts for this were made using almost 300 individual pieces of woven roving, bonded together with WEST SYSTEM® epoxy.
The biggest challenge to date has been “the regulatory landscape” which has changed dramatically over the last 18 months with many new rules coming in. Delays in the importation of the rocket propellant impacted the launch schedule. Whilst eagerly waiting, verification testing has been carried out, including pyrotechnic tests which entail rocket parts dramatically separating, and parachutes launching from mortar tubes!
“We’re delighted to be able to sponsor Astra-X,” says Ian Oliver. “WEST SYSTEM epoxy has been in production for over fifty years and we’re celebrating that by looking at all the projects which are made using the fantastic array of products. This is the longest sponsorship we’ve undertaken and it’s testament to Steve’s ambition and direction that he’s so close to launching. We’re proud to be able to supply WEST SYSTEM epoxy to take people into space. It’s not what it was designed for, but given its innate strength and durability, we are delighted that it’s passed muster and is being used in this ingenious manner.”
What’s upcoming for Starchaser?
Exciting things coming up for the team at Starchaser UK! An upcoming launch of their 4-metre Tempest rocket is due on August 30th. This will be used as a training exercise in preparation for the Astra-X launch. This will be the 5th flight of Tempest, but this time will be powered using a rocket motor with twice the performance of any of its previous launches! This rocket will reach an altitude in excess of 1000 feet.
Starchasers vision is to inspire and alongside building rockets. The team at Starchaser dedicate time to educational visits. You can even book a rocket to visit. Find out more at https://starchaser.co.uk.