A Mexican-designed carrier rocket might soon give the nation’s aerospace industry enough autonomy for small educational and commercial projects.
Until now, Mexican college-level educational institutions wanting to test low-orbit experiments and CubeSat-based projects have had to rely on paying for a ride on a rocket managed by an international agency.
Along with the elevated cost of outsourcing the launches — an investment of about US $100,000 — those hopeful to test their projects and experiments have had to wait up to three years for a launch date.
Mexican researchers also make use of hot air balloons in their experiments, a technology that offers a maximum altitude of only 50 kilometers.
With those limitations in mind, Mexican aerospace firm Datiotec Aeroespacial has developed the JFCR.2000-Pollux launcher rocket, giving national colleges and researchers a wider launch window for their satellite validation tests and microgravity experiments.
The six-meter-long Pollux reusable rocket has a payload of three kilograms and will be capable of reaching a maximum altitude of 100 kilometers.
The San Luis Potosí-based company seeks “to solve current launch problems with our own low-cost solution, giving a boost to the development of space technology and positioning Mexico in a prominent role,” said project leader Luis Gerardo Zárate Vilet.
The goal, he continued, is for the project to operate at the industrial level, with between 12 and 24 launches per year.
The Pollux rocket is currently in the last testing stages, explained Zárate. “We’ll fire it up for the first time in fixed conditions, in order to check its operation and calculated parameters.”
The aerospace company is also developing a booster system for the rocket that would enable it to reach altitudes of more than 200 kilometers, enabling the nascent company to effectively put satellites into low orbit.
Datiotec Aeroespacial’s project is the result of three years of research and development funded by the National Science and Technology Council (Conacyt) and counseling from the Mexican Space Agency (AEM), although the team of researchers has been working in San Luis Potosí since the 1970s.
Source: Milenio (sp)