Spaceplane startup Dawn Aerospace announced October 31 that it had secured a €385k European Space Agency (ESA) development contract for 3D-printed rocket engines.
Headquartered in Delft, Netherlands, Dawn Aerospace is currently developing its Mk-II Aurora suborbital spaceplane which is designed to be capable of carrying payloads of up to four kilograms to an altitude of 100 kilometers, also known as the Kármán line, the generally accepted boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
The €385k ESA development contract aims to assist Dawn Aerospace in developing next-generation 3D printing technology to produce the Mk-II Aurora’s 2.5kN HTP-and-Kerosene-powered rocket engine.
“We are proud to work in cooperation with the European Space Agency,” said Jeroen Wink, Dawn Aerospace CEO. “This is important work that will lead to higher-performance, more reliable rocket engines that can fly to space hundreds of times without refurbishment”.
The contract is part of the ESA Future Launcher Preparatory Program (FLPP). According to ESA, FLPP seeks to foster next-generation launch technology capable of delivering reliable access to space while reducing operational costs.
The Mk-II Aurora is expected to be launched and recovered from traditional airport runways. Once airborne, the spaceplane will climb to its maximum altitude where it will offer 180 seconds of microgravity. The spaceplane will then glide back to Earth touching down on an ordinary runaway much like a conventional aircraft.
The maiden flight of the Mk-II Aurora is expected to be launched from a currently undisclosed site in New Zealand before the end of the year.