NEPTUNE 1 Guidance Test Vehicle Nearing Completion

NEPTUNE 1 GTV  (Credit: Interorbital Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif., July 25, 2017 (Interorbital PR)—The Interorbital team is nearing the completion of its N1 GTV launch vehicle which incorporates IOS’ new high-efficiency CPM 2.0 filament-wound tank assembly, its new rocket engine gimballing system, its new CPM controller, and its new in-house developed guidance system. This finless, single CPM launch vehicle will be used in an upcoming low-altitude test flight. Eleven commercial and educational CubeSat and TubeSat payloads are manifested on this flight.

CPM 2.0 is composed of four identical tanks containing the rocket’s storable propellants and pressurant gas. This regulated pressure-fed configuration was chosen to increase engine performance while at the same time reducing cost and manufacturing time.

During the test flight, the rocket will simulate an orbital launch trajectory by using the main rocket engine’s throttling capability to vary the thrust-to-weight ratio, thus simulating the actual conditions that will be experienced during an orbital launch. After the rocket passes through the transonic phase and Max Q, the engine will gradually throttle down, slowing the rocket until it begins to hover. At this point, the rocket engine will be shut down and the rocket will be allowed to fall. At a safe altitude, a parachute will be deployed for vehicle and payload recovery.

Following the test of the N1 GTV launch vehicle, the IOS team will construct an orbital version of the N1 launch vehicle. The N1 consists of a single CPM 2.0 and two liquid upper-stages. It will be capable of placing a 14 pound (6.4 kg) payload into a 192 mi (310 km) polar orbit—perfect for the dedicated launch of the new 3U-CubeSat plus 1U-propulsion system assemblies now trending in the small satellite industry. Since the N1 launch vehicle is 36 ft (11 m) in length and weighs only 5,400 lbs (2,449 kg), it will be the smallest orbital launch vehicle in the world. The NEPTUNE 1 will also be the world’s lowest-cost orbital launch vehicle, with a base price of $250,000 (academic only) per launch to a circular polar orbit at 310km.

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