A Look Back at Suborbital Space in 2012

Excerpted from the FAA report, “Commercial Space Transportation: 2012 Year in Review”.

FAA Suborbital Flight Summary

On October 6, at New Mexico’s Spaceport America, Armadillo Aerospace’s STIG-B suborbital reusable vehicle (SRV) made the only FAA-licensed suborbital launch of 2012. However, six other suborbital vehicles flew under experimental permits or Class 3 waivers.

The STIG-B flight was the first FAA-licensed launch from Spaceport America. The launch experienced an in-flight abort. It did not reach its planned altitude, but the vehicle was successfully recovered intact and later used to conduct launch tests in November and December. Armadillo successfully launched its STIG-A vehicle under a Class 3 Waiver in January, but the vehicle was lost during recovery.


Masten Tests New Katana Class Engine

Video Caption:
Masten Space Systems successfully tests a regeneratively cooled Katana class engine, the KA6A. The Katana class engines are rated up to 4,000lbf of thrust with this engine running at ~2,800lbf during this test. Masten has been designing, testing and improving several key pieces of enabling flight hardware and during this test evolution we demonstrate the successful integration of some of those items.

Key hardware in this test include:

– The Katana KA6A, an all aluminum regeneratively cooled LOX/IPA 3,000lbf rated engine– fully designed in-house.
– Our test trailer was outfitted with an already flight proven 600psi cryo rated aluminum ball valve that was designed entirely by our team, including the ball. The ball valve unit is actuated by a Masten designed and built lightweight aluminum pneumatic actuator assembly that includes an integral pressure accumulator and features a positive fail-safe return.
– Our newest spark exciter design is also integrated; a low power, small footprint, lightweight and adaptable form factor device.
– The test trailer has also been validating our new brushless DC throttle valve motors, brushless DC motor controllers and new engine control code.