Venture Capital: NZ-Based Dawn Aerospace Tests Suborbital Spaceplane

August 26, 2021 | News, Venture Capital

The New Zealand-Dutch space startup conducted five flights of its Mk-II Aurora (pictured above) suborbital spaceplane.

Dawn Aerospace is developing suborbital and orbital planes powered by rocket engines that take off and land, horizontally, from conventional airfields. The startup announced today the completion of five successful flights of its Mk-II Aurora suborbital spaceplane from the Glentanner Aerodrome in New Zealand’s South Island. (Dawn Aerospace)

In May, Dawn secured “significant” funding from NZ’s largest tech investment firm, Movac. Dawn’s existing investors – Icehouse Ventures and Erik Swan – also contributed.

Before its foray into spaceplanes, Dawn has supplied in-space propulsion products – used to propel satellites in space – to customers globally since 2019.

The company’s B-20 thruster (image above) has been successfully used in hundreds of on-orbit firings.

MK-II Aurora spaceplane

MK-II will fly (suborbitally) up to 100 km above the Earth and is designed to make space flights many times a day. It is, therefore, a reusable and sustainable vehicle that has applications in weather and climate modeling and for scientific research and technology demonstrations.

It will serve as a precursor to the development of Dawn’s MK-III, the two-stage-to-orbit vehicle.

For the test flights announced today, the MK-II was powered by surrogate jet engines. However, ultimately it will fly on a rocket engine currently under testing.

Reusability – rapid turnaround achieved on test flights

“Dawn is focussed on sustainable and scalable access to space and our Mk-II vehicle is entirely reusable,” said Stefan Powell, CEO. “The team has successfully captured extensive data enabling further R&D on the capability of Mk-II. I’m hugely proud of our engineering team for designing and building a vehicle that flies beautifully the first time and just as predicted.”

“We are delighted with the results and demonstrating rapid turnaround – we conducted five flights within three days, and two flights occurred within ninety minutes of each other.”

Related Story:   Relativity Space Raises $650M Series E For Its ‘Terran R’ 3D-Printed Rocket

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