Headlines > News > Starchaser’s Steve Bennett Talks to the Space Fellowship about the UK’s Largest Ever Space Rocket “Nova 2”

Starchaser’s Steve Bennett Talks to the Space Fellowship about the UK’s Largest Ever Space Rocket “Nova 2”

Published by Rob on Fri Jul 4, 2008 6:31 pm
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The recent news that Starchaser were ready to unveil their newest rocket “Nova 2” was warmly welcomed around the globe. The heavily anticipated rocket was finally unveiled at Salford University on July 1st. Steve Bennett who heads up the University’s Space Technology Laboratory, presented his 58ft Nova 2 rocket at the University and discussed how his company, Starchaser Industries Ltd (Starchaser) plans to launch it next year with the help of school children from across the UK.

Having been in contact with Steve through the course of the unveiling I decided to get some questions answered and shared. Nova 2 will be launched in September 2009 from a UK launch site and follows on from “Nova”, a rocket that was launched from Morecambe Bay, United Kingdom, on the 22nd of November 2001.

Nova reached a maximum altitude of 1,688.8 metres (5,541 ft). I asked Steve what the maximum altitude of Nova 2 was and he informed me that Nova 2 can get to about 120,000 feet. (SpaceShipOne reached 100.1 km on June 21st 2004).

I followed this question with “How high will it actually be flown?”, Steve informs me “We want to launch in the UK so the CAA are likely to restrict the altitude. We need to launch to at least 10,000 feet in order to perform the Launch Escape tests we are planning.

As already stated, the Nova launch was from Morecambe Bay, with a growing public interest in both private space flight and Starchaser as a company, I asked Steve where the test flights would take place.

We would like to launch from Morecambe bay, we have most of the permissions in place. If we can do this then the launch will be clearly viewable from the promenade. We will be having 100 school parties attending and we welcome public viewing. The launch will be in September 2009.

The scheduled September 2009 flight is due to put the vessel’s safety systems to the test. I asked if there would be any test flights carrying humans onboard, Steve tells me that the capsule has already had one successful drop test with a pilot onboard, adding “It depends on the results of the first Nova 2 test flight. We have already drop tested the Nova 2 capsule with a pilot on board. He successfully deployed a steerable “ram – air” parachute canopy at 10,000 feet and brought the capsule safely back” Steve later told me that after the September 2009 launch they expect to have enough data to build a bigger rocket.

Regarding how many more rockets will be built and flown before a suborbital space rocket is built, Steve informs me that Starchaser already have a prototype “Thunderstar” three man capsule and are very close to building the actual space rocket. He adds “We could launch by 2013 if we raise the funds we need.”

I asked Steve to explain the differences between the Nova rocket and the new Nova 2 rocket. Steve explained that the reason for launching Nova 2 is to test a “little Joe” type launch escape system. The capsule is also man rated, whereas the original Nova 1 capsule was more boilerplate.

The Space Fellowship would like to thank Steve Bennett for his contribution to this article and wishes Starchaser well as they progress towards space flight.

View high resolution Images of Nova 2 Here

View the Starchaser Nova 2 Press Release Here

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About Starchaser
Starchaser Industries, (www.starchaser.co.uk) is a privately held, high technology company that specialises in the development, operation and commercialisation of space related products and services. Starchaser Industries enables new space related business opportunities by providing safe, reliable, affordable and reusable access to space for both the space tourism and micro-satellite launch markets.

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