Stoke Space wants to take reusable rockets to new heights with $9M seed – TechCrunch

Many launch providers think that reusable is the best way to reduce the costs and delays involved in moving to space. SpaceX and Rocket Lab have shown reusable first stages, carrying a payload to the edge of space – and now Stoke Space Technologies Making it a reusable Second The platform, which will carry that payload into orbit, and has raised a $ 9.1M seed ball to realize it.

Designing the first phase that can safely return to Earth is no small task, but the fact that it only reaches a certain height and speed, and does not actually orbit at a single high velocity, This means that it is simple to try. The second phase is when spending first means accelerating and guiding the payload to its destination orbit, which usually means it must have traveled too far and when it tries to return Will move very fast.

Stoke thinks that it is not possible to build a reusable second stage, but is critical to building a low-cost space economy that will enable decades of growth in the industry. The team previously worked on New Glenn and New Shepard vehicles and engines at Blue Glen, Merlin 1C for Falcon 9 on SpaceX, and others.

“Our design philosophy is to design hardware that can not only be reused, but is operationally reusable. This means faster turnaround time with less refinement effort. That type of reusability should be designed from the beginning, ”said Andy Lapsa, Stoke co-founder and CEO.

A rocket fires a test in an industrial environment.

Image Credit: Stoke Space Technologies

Beyond the fact that the vehicle would employ a ballistic retry and a powered landing, Stoke did not comment on the engineering or method, allowing it to safely bring a few tons of precision equipment from 400 kilometers up and Herculean feat of traveling every 28,000 Will complete km / h. (Although Lapsa mentions it Geekwire That the “good, high-performance static injector” is the core of their engine and therefore the system around it.)

At such speeds as repetitions can be fatal, there is a hope that they save little fuel not only for landing but also for deceleration. This will increase the mass and complexity of the vehicle before the payload, reducing its carrying capacity.

“It is true that any reusable system will naturally be more complex than its more expensive counterpart,” Lapsa said. “However, when a mission optimizes on cost and availability, this complexity is worth it.”

As other launch companies have pointed out, you burn a lot of money on reentry, but the safest step yet is to keep the first stage alive. The second phase is by no means cheap, and any company would prefer to recycle it – and indeed it could greatly reduce the cost of the launch if they did so successfully.

The promise of Stoke is not just to bring the upper platform home, but to bring it home and have it ready for re-use a day later. “All launch hardware is periodically reused time after time with aircraft-like regularity – zero refurbishment with 24-hour turnaround,” Bapsa claims.

Considering the amount of wear and tear a rocket undergoes in climbing and landing, “zero renewal” can seem like an impossible dream. SpaceX’s reusable first steps can be swung around very quickly, but they can’t just fuel them where they land and press the button again.

Not only that, but Stoke aims to provide reusable-rocket service beyond low-Earth orbit, where most small, low-cost satellites go. There are also plans for geosynchronous orbit and transplanter or interplanetary trajectories.

Depending on the mission requirements, “GTO, GEO Direct, TLI and Earth escape missions will be initially carried out with partially reusable or spent vehicles, although those vehicles will be the same as those reused for previous LEOs. Must have been used on missions to be performed. The design is fully extensible to be reused for these missions (and / or additional lander) in future variants, ”said Lapsa.

These are ambitious claims – even looking at the rocket situation right now, people can call it unrealistic with good reason. But the industry has advanced more rapidly than a decade ago and seemingly unrealistic ambitions superseded those changes as well.

The $ 9.1M seed round raised by Stoke will enable it to meet the next few milestones, but anyone who follows the industry will know that in time there is far more cash to cover the costs of development and testing Will be required

The round was led by NFX and MaC Ventures, including YC, Seven Sevens (Alexis Ohanian), Liquid 2 (Joe Montana), Trevor Blackwell, Kyle Vogt, and Charlie Songhurst.