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Sep 1, 2021

Reusable spaceplane demonstrator completes 5 test flights in 3 days

Posted by in category: space travel

Dawn Aerospace has successfully completed five test flights of its uncrewed Mk-II Aurora suborbital spaceplane in the skies over Glentanner Aerodrome on New Zealand’s South Island. The flights were conducted by the New Zealand-Dutch space transportation company from July 28 to 30 2021 at altitudes of up to 3,400 feet (1,036 m), with the prototype airframe fitted with surrogate jet engines.

The three-days of test flights to assess the airframe and avionics of the aircraft took place under a certificate issued to Dawn by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which allowed the Mk-II Aurora to operate from conventional airports without airspace restrictions after ground tests were completed.

The Mk-II Aurora is designed to take off and land horizontally using conventional runways. It’s currently equipped with surrogate jet engines, but these will be replaced by a liquid-fuel rocket engine, which is now undergoing static tests. Once installed, the hydrogen peroxide/kerosene engine will propel the spaceplane to supersonic speeds and high altitudes, and ultimately to a height of 100 km (62 mi) on a suborbital trajectory.

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