Starscraper aims for a cheap suborbital rocket to take payloads to the edge of space
The International Space Station (ISS) may get all the glory, but suborbital rocket flights still play a vital part in space research. The problem is that even though such flights only go to the edge of space, they are expensive, few in number, and put massive stresses on experiments.
Partly funded by a Kickstarter campaign, students at Boston University are developing an inexpensive suborbital rocket for educational purposes that uses new engine designs to create a cheaper, reusable suborbital rocket that's easier on the payload.
Currently, suborbital flights depend on NASA and a few companies that only fly about a hundred times a year at US$1 million a shot. In addition, because the disposable rockets use solid rocket motors, these flights pull 20 Gs of acceleration and produce massive vibrations that make them unsuitable for more delicate experiments.
Boston University Rocket Propulsion Group (BURPG) is an undergraduate group designed to give students hands-on engineering experience by designing and building suborbital rockets at a professional level. Its flagship project, Starscraper, has the goal of building an affordable, reusable suborbital rocket using a hybrid engine that would allow it to reach space without the acceleration and vibration of a solid booster.
Scheduled to fly in July 2015, Starscraper is a suborbital rocket measuring 30 ft (9 m) long and weighing 1,100 lb (499 kg), and it's designed to lift a 100 lb (45 kg) payload to an altitude of 435,000 ft (133,000 m), then return it to Earth.