Vector Declares Rocket Launch Successful

Flight test of P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle from Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in California. (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

CANTIL, Calif. (Vector PR) — Vector, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced the successful test launch of the P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle.

This flight test is the first of several upcoming launches which will enable Vector to evaluate critical technologies and functions of the operational family of Vector launch vehicles.

“2017 has already been a ground-breaking year for Vector as we continue testing full-scale vehicle engineering models to demonstrate functionality and flight operations,” said Vector co-founder and CEO Jim Cantrell. “The success of this test not only sets the standard for the swift mobile development of our launch vehicles, but also furthers our mission to revolutionize the spaceflight industry and increase speed to orbit.”

This successful flight test represents Vector’s next technical milestone of the Vector-R launch vehicle. The flight test, which took place in Mojave, Calif. on May 3, featured Vector’s first stage 5K-lbf engine and 3D additive manufacturing printed injector, which was successfully tested in December 2016, and developed in partnership with NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program. This specific use of a 3D additive manufacturing injector is the latest in manufacturing technology. Traditional manufacturing uses a machine to produce multiple parts and then workers to assemble them together, but 3D additive manufacturing technology does not need assembly since it is built in one piece. This new manufacturing technology will reduce both cost and labor, as well as cut down on wasted raw material. It will also improve quality issues such as the alignment of parts.

“With this successful in-flight operation of an additively manufactured injector, we have now moved the maturity of this technology to the next level for small launch vehicles,” said John Peugeot, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center project manager for 3D Additive Manufactured (AM). “This represents a critical step in moving AM hardware beyond laboratory testing and toward qualification for real-world applications.”

This announcement comes on the heels on Vector’s recent agreement to conduct a flight test in Camden County, Georgia. Vector and key members of the spaceport community in Camden County showcased the Vector-R launch system and concept of operations for future launch operations on-site last week. The summer launch from Spaceport Camden is part of a series of incremental launches which will help Vector further validate the company’s technology, mature launch vehicle design and operations, and evaluate candidate launch sites for the future.

“In the 1960’s NASA tested some of the most powerful rockets ever constructed on the site proposed for Spaceport Camden and we benefited from that enthusiasm and hunger for innovation,” said David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. “Vector’s successful tests prove that it is an innovator in this dynamic field. Georgia looks forward to working with commercial space companies, like Vector, as we begin the next chapter of space exploration and innovation.”

About Vector:

Founded by the original SpaceX founding team, Vector is a disruptive company that connects space startups and innovators with affordable and reliable launch services, enabling platforms and vehicles to access space at a price never before possible. For more information, visit http://www.vectorspacesystems.com/.

  • SteveW

    Where’s the complete video? Maximum Altitude? How many engines on this test rocket? Was a guidance system tested? How will they launch from Camden County, Georgia when Camden does not have a spaceport site license? And Vector does not have an spaceport operator license?

  • Jacob Samorodin

    1) 8-13 seconds of video is all we will get at best.
    2) They fell short of attaining a mile altitude.
    3) They are a talkative start-up company, but at least they showed
    hardware that successfully flew upwards.
    Hey!…Don’t expect things like licenses and east-coast launch facilities to happen quickly.
    Just like an infant needs years to grow, to learn, to crawl, walk and then run.
    It won’t happen overnight.

  • SteveW

    Of course the whole video is not posted. It’s probably hardly pretty. They are a long way from a commercially viable launch system.

    It’s Vector’s claim they’ll launch soon from Spaceport Camden, not mine. I’m just a simple taxpayer in Camden County wondering how we’ll benefit from a company like Vector. Camden originally teased us with dreams of SpaceX and BO launching here. Now they parade Vector through. For this we need another subsidized spaceport?

    But Good Luck to them. Perhaps they will have greater success than the dozens of failed space startups.

  • JackS

    Steve, its not clear to me that you understand much about the space industry, venture capital or this particular test. The headline here is that Vector successfully flew a rocket with 3D printed engine parts. Thats a major step forward in reducing the cost of going to space. While you focus on launch milestones the industry reached in the 1960’s (guidance systems, multi-engine rockets, etc) Vector is quietly revolutionizing the small sat market. Ohh…and raising millions of dollars in venture capital money while their at it. http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2017/04/19/tucson-aerospace-startup-raises-4-5-million-hiring.html

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    So it seems to me the test was to repeat a typical Garvey sounding rocket with the new variable of the 3-d printed injector. But why fly to test just that, a static test would more than suffice. My guess is they must be testing something else. I’ll bet a new G (and/or) N (and/or) C, or something else that requires the conditions of flight.

  • SteveW

    JackS, It would be hard to deny that the space industry has been replete with grand ideas, wishful thinking and hyperbolic promises. We both know enough to understand that this is not the first round of promises about new technology that will pave the way to cheaper spaceflight. Take a look at recent news stories by Vector about their launch plans at Spaceport Camden (which may, or may not ever get its site license), and the status of Vector’s rocket development, and tell me if you really believe that Vector is not projecting successes well ahead of their true advancement.

    By the way, Vector is not quietly doing anything. Their recent tour through Camden and Kennedy with their mockup rocket was nothing but a grand publicity stunt. The associated promises had to be for the investors and local politicians because so far, they have reached only 1.46% of the altitude to the edge of space.

    About Venture Capital: Venture Capital fulfills the need for money when traditional forms of finance are not available to unproven companies with unproven ideas. This is because there are substantial barriers to success that create significant risk in the investment. That is why companies must give up significant equity in a VC deal. High risk demands the potential for high returns. One myth is that venture capitalists invest in good people and good ideas. The reality is that they invest in industries with upside potential—that is, industries that have great perceived potential. In today’s market, that means every company that might have the potential to perform like Blue Origin or SpaceX. Vector is way behind several others trying to fill the same niche, especially considering global competition. The sums they have raised are miniscule in the space industry.

  • savuporo

    > hey have reached only 1.46% of the altitude to the edge of space

    Thats roughly 1.46% more than average smallsat launch company.