SpaceLoft demonstrates capability to eject separate payloads requiring independent re-entry

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by Staff Writers, loganspaceNov 09, 2015


Successful launch of UP Aerospace SL-10 payload rocket. Courtesy of Spaceport America
Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport, announced the successful launch of an UP Aerospace SpaceLoftrocket carrying several scientific and engineering experiments. The launch took place this morning at 8:01 MST from Spaceport America’s Vertical Launch Complex-1 on the East Campus. This launch represents Spaceport America’s 24th overall launch and the fourth from Spaceport America with NASA Flight Opportunities Program payloads.
The SpaceLoft commercial research rocket was launched within the dedicated 2 1/2-hour launch window, and flight data indicate the rocket attained a maximum altitude of approximately 120.7 km/74.98 miles. The parachute recovery system brought the rocket and its payloads safely back.

The payloads were recovered intact 49.62 km/30.83 miles downrange on the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range as planned. This is the first mission in which UP Aerospace demonstrated the capability to eject separate payloads that require independent re-entry into the atmosphere. Three separate parachutes provided soft landing of payload components.
“Spaceport America congratulates UP Aerospace on a successful launch and for being the first private commercial-space company to demonstrate independent payload re-entry,” said Spaceport America CEO Christine Anderson. “Spaceport America is also proud to support these important research payloads for NASA and academia.”
“I would like to thank Spaceport America for hosting all ten of the SpaceLoft missions,” explained UP Aerospace President Jerry Larson. “We look forward to offering our new independent re-entry capabilities which we have demonstrated with this mission to other customers in the future.”
The payload flown on the UP Aerospace SL-10 rocket included the following:
+ + Maraia Earth Return Capsule from NASA Johnson Space Center. This experiment tested a reentry capsule being developed to return small satellites and individual payloads from orbit on-demand.
+ AVA from NASA Ames Research Center. This was a test of a developmental, low-cost avionics package, which will ultimately be used to monitor and control launcher systems designed for small satellites.
+ Green Propellant experiment from Purdue University. This experiment studied surface tension behavior of a new “green” rocket propellant in low gravity. Results will be used to validate propellant management devices applicable to both geostationary and interplanetary spacecraft.
+ SOF-2 from New Mexico State University. This experiment tested an autonomous, robotic method to identify unknown or changed inertia properties (mass, center of mass, moments of inertia) of a spacecraft. This will be used to enhance control capability of future on-orbit servicing missions such as satellite refueling, rescue, repair, and orbit debris removal.