Dawn Aerospace's Spaceplane Gets Green Light for Suborbital Test Flights in New Zealand

Written By: Jay K.

Published: Fri, Mar 24, 2023 11:54 PM

Latest Update: Fri, Mar 24, 2023 11:55 PM

New Zealand-based aerospace company, Dawn Aerospace, has received certification from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for its Mk-II Aurora spaceplane's rocket-powered flight campaign. The Mk-II Aurora's mission is to fly twice to space in a day, demonstrating that rocket-powered systems can be as reusable as commercial aircraft.

This certification is a significant step forward for the company as it allows them to operate without excluding other airspace users, integrate with existing airspace, and fly as frequently as the vehicle permits, rather than as often as they can clear the airspace.

The Mk-II Aurora spaceplane holds significant commercial promise as a suborbital vehicle, with applications in earth monitoring, microgravity research, disaster management, and in-situ atmospheric measurements, providing unprecedented enhancements to weather and climate models.

The Dawn Aerospace team has been designing and building the Mk-II Aurora spaceplane since 2018 and has completed 48 test flights using jet engines, validating all non-rocket systems. The team has also concluded static integrated testing of the Mk-II Aurora engine, firing it 112 times, including seven instances where it was integrated with the vehicle.

With vehicle certification and integration testing completed, Dawn Aerospace is excited to announce that rocket-powered flights are set to begin within the next month. The initial flights will follow a build-up approach, reaching modest speeds and altitudes while maintaining the rapid test cadence previously demonstrated using surrogate jet engines.

"We are thrilled to be nearing this milestone flight campaign and look forward to sharing our learnings with the world," said Stefan Powell, CEO of Dawn Aerospace.

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