Spaceplanes authorized for Cape Canaveral and Stratolaunch has engine success

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) issued Space Florida a Launch Site Operator License (LSOL) for operations at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF). This landmark license expands the capabilities of the Cape to multiple horizontal launch and landing customers.

The license allows the Cape Canaveral Spaceport to support operations of aircraft that carry an air-launched vehicle such as the Northrop Grumman Pegasus, Vulcan Systems’ Stratolaunch, Virgin Orbit Launcher One, Virgin Galactic Spaceship 2, potential new national security programs and others.

Cape Canaveral Spaceport has a 15,000-foot runway. It was used for more than 130 Space Shuttle landings.

Stratolaunch fires 3D printed preburner for PGA engine

Stratolaunch fired the preburner for its PGA engine.

Fully designed and developed by Stratolaunch, the PGA Engine is a high-performing, liquid rocket engine that, once completed, will produce 200,000 lbf of thrust. The hydrogen-oxygen engine will have the highest specific impulse of any rocket engine propellant.

Designed, fabricated, assembled and tested in less than one year, the full-scale hydrogen preburner will be one of the fastest engine development programs to-date. The team has successfully completed propellant cold flows, igniter activation, and hot-fire sequence development, all culminating to the hot-fire tests.

“I am excited to share that Stratolaunch has completed our first successful hot-fire test of the PGA Engine fuel preburner,” said Jeff Thornburg, vice president of propulsion at Stratolaunch.

The Stratolaunch propulsion team has also prioritized the use of additive manufacturing for the development of the engine, enabling rapid prototyping on a much faster scale than traditional methods. This process has resulted in 100 percent additive manufacturing of the preburner.