Tethers Unlimited Aims to Put SPIDERs on Mars

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the 1970’s, David Bowie sang about Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars. If Tethers Unlimited has its way, the Red Planet will be crawling with them.

Earlier this month, NASA selected the Bothell, Washington-based company for a small business award to work on its Sensing and Positioning in Deep Environments with Retrieval (SPIDER) surface exploration system.

(more…)

Sierra Nevada’s New VORTEX Upper Stage Engine Closer to Reality

VORTEX engine test (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev., October 11, 2018 (SNC PR) – With its patented VORTEX™ engine technology, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is one step closer to testing a brand new version of its low-cost, high-performance upper stage rocket engine. The VR35K-A, developed in conjunction with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), is a commercialized version of the VORTEX engine system. The team will provide a fully integrated engine, leveraging technologies initially developed under Small Business Innovation Research programs.

(more…)

ORBITEC Expands Vortex Engine With New Propellant Demo

Thrust vortex engine test (Credit: ORBITEC/SNC)
Thrust vortex engine test (Credit: ORBITEC/SNC)

MADISON, Wis. (Nov. 10, 2015) – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) wholly-owned subsidiary Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC) recently completed successful testing and demonstration of three different propellant combinations for its existing 30,000-pound thrust vortex rocket engine. Completing this advancement in less than a year, ORBITEC is rapidly progressing its offering of engines for orbital maneuvering, upper-stage engines that ignite at high altitude, and small-to-medium-scale air and ground launch stage engines.

(more…)

ORBITEC Selected for 3 SBIR and 1 STTR Phase I Awards

ORBITEC vortex propulsion technology. (Credit: ORBITEC)
ORBITEC vortex propulsion technology. (Credit: ORBITEC)

NASA has selected Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC) for three Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and one Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I awards for a high performance nano-launcher, miniature CubeSat propulsion, vortex propulsion technology, and a waste compactor.

The OBITEC proposals that NASA selected for negotiations include:

  • High Performance Nanolauncher (STTR with Penn State University)
  • Miniature Nontoxic Nitrous Oxide-Propane (MINNOP) Propulsion
  • VTX HyHeat — vortex propulsion technology
  • Plastic Melt Waste Compactor Flight Demonstrator Payload (PFDP)

(more…)

ORBITEC Set to Test New Vortex Engine

ORBITEC's Vortex engine. (Credit: ORBITEC)

An interesting item from the Wisconsin State Journal on a new rocket engine design:

Orbital Technologies Corp. received the first of two rockets that could someday send the Madison company’s fortunes sky high — or at least fulfill the dreams of its rocket scientists. The rockets — built by Garvey Spacecraft Corp., of Long Beach, Calif., and California State University at Long Beach — will incorporate a vortex rocket engine designed by Orbitec.

(more…)