Stoke Space puts its test rocket through a successful hop in central Washington state

by | Sep 17, 2023 | Science

Stoke Space’s Hopper2 rocket test vehicle sits on a stand in advance of its “hop.” (Stoke Space Photo)A four-year-old Seattle-area startup called Stoke Space executed a successful up-and-down test of its “Hopper” developmental rocket vehicle today, marking a major milestone in its quest to create a fully reusable launch system.Hopper2’s 15-second flight took place at Stoke’s test facility at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Wash., at 11:24 a.m. PT. A hydrogen-fueled rocket engine sent the test vehicle to a height of 30 feet, with a landing 15 feet away from the launch pad, Stoke CEO Andy Lapsa told GeekWire.“It’s the last test in our development program for Hopper, and by all accounts, it’s been very successful,” Lapsa said.Today’s test follows up on work that was done this spring with an earlier prototype, Hopper1, and a static engine firing for Hopper2 that was conducted this month.In a Sept. 12 posting to X / Twitter, Stoke Space said “we’ve now learned everything we were looking for from this dev test vehicle in order to finalize the orbital design … but HELL YES we’re gonna hop it for icing on the cake.”“This Hopper program was really geared to develop the reusable second-stage system, and specifically prove out a lot of the new and novel technology elements that go into it,” Lapsa explained today. “There’s the actively cooled, regeneratively cooled heat shield. We have a very unique rocket engine … with a single set of turbo machinery that feeds an array of thrusters. Both of those two, the heat shield and the engine, are coupled.”Lapsa said Stoke Space’s rocket may well mark the first use of differential-thrust vector control for attitude control since 1972, when that approach was used for the last Soviet N1 moon rocket.[embedded content]In addition to testing out the technical innovations, Stoke’s team al …

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