APR 04, 2018 06:20 PM PDT

Will 'Rockoons' Make Small Satellite Deployment More Accessible?

Launching rockets into space is expensive, and that’s why a bevy of smaller payloads often wait to fly standby. By hitching rides with larger payloads, organizations wanting to send smaller payloads into space can save money while still achieving their objective.

Space agencies and small firms have used this rocket-based carpooling method for ages, but waiting for the perfect launch opportunity in this manner can take a significant amount of time. That said, a new startup called Leo Aerospace aims to take full advantage of this niche.

An artist's impression of Leo Aerospace's 'rockoon' launch method.

Image Credit: Leo Aerospace

Citing a recent press release, Leo Aerospace plans to deliver inexpensive, prioritized space travel for organizations that want to send small payloads into space. But given the cost of launching full-sized rockets these days, Leo Aerospace proposes a different approach to realizing this goal: rockoons.

“We’re targeting the microsatellites by saying, ‘You don’t have to ride-share with anyone. We can guarantee you will be our only payload and we will be focused on you,’” explained Drew Sherman, Leo Aerospace’s head of vehicle development.

“‘We will work with you exclusively to get you into orbit. You won’t have to worry about other payloads or getting dropped off in the wrong spot.’”

Related: SpaceX wants to launch Falcon 9 rockets every couple of weeks

A ‘rockoon’ is fundamentally a hybrid of a rocket and a balloon. The launch technique, which first debuted in the 1950’s, comprises of deploying a rocket-bearing balloon high into Earth’s atmosphere and then allowing the rocket to take over after the payload reaches an adequate altitude.

The technique saves a ton of money because it doesn’t involve launching a full-sized rocket with a heavy payload and because the balloon does most of the heavy-lifting. Furthermore, there is considerably less atmospheric drag for the miniature rocket onboard after the payload reaches a particular altitude – 95% less, to be exact. That said, igniting it 11 miles above the Earth's surface requires less fuel.

Leo Aerospace’s vision kills two birds with one stone for organizations wanting to send small payloads into space. For one, it offers access to cheaper space travel for organizations with limited funding. Secondly, it provides more convenient launching timing for organizations that might have time constraints.

It should be interesting to see how Leo Aerospace might reshape the future of space travel and how it might benefit scientific research. Only time will tell.

Source: Leo Aerospace, Perdue University

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUN 20, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUN 20, 2018
New Report Outlines How NASA Will Prepare for Potential Near-Earth Object Collisions
NASA juggles a bevy of space-related responsibilities, such as exploring the solar system and studying the most distant reaches of the universe, but one of...
JUN 27, 2018
Videos
JUN 27, 2018
Will We Ever Achieve Light Speed?
Will humankind ever achieve light speed with a spacecraft? Science fiction movies keep our hopes high, but the reality of things is that it may not be poss...
JUL 03, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 03, 2018
Planet-Wide Dust Storm Continues to Impact Mars
After a planet-wide dust storm enveloped Mars, NASA’s solar-powered Opportunity rover was forced to enter sleep mode to conserve energy until the sto...
JUL 25, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 25, 2018
SpaceX Flies Ten More Satellites Into Space for Iridium
On Wednesday, SpaceX completed its second Falcon 9 rocket launch of the week. Stowed away inside the rocket’s massive cargo hold were a total of ten...
AUG 29, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 29, 2018
Ever Wonder How Long it Takes to Get to Mars? Watch This
Sending missions to Mars isn’t as easy as it may seem at first glance. The solar system is continuously shifting as planets orbit the Sun, so it&rsqu...
SEP 05, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 05, 2018
What Would We Even Do If We Found Aliens?
Space agencies like NASA and the European Space Agency are exceptionally busy searching our solar system for evidence of otherworldly life, but do we know...
Loading Comments...