Just like we enjoy a range of different possible modes of transportation on Earth, the potential of the space economy allows for many different types of of vehicles and launch systems. Dawn Aerospace took the wrapper off one today, a suborbital spaceplane called the Dawn Mk-II Aurora that’s smaller than a compact car and that will be capable of making multiple return trips to suborbital space per day.
The Mk-II is, as its name suggests, a second iteration of the concept created by Dawn. The Mk-I was actually built and flew in May 2018, demonstrating its ability to fire up its rockets during flight after taking off horizontally from a traditionally airstrip. One of the Mk-II’s key capabilities is its ability to take-off and land at conventional runways, obviating the need for specialized and expensive vertical launch compounds.
Dawn Aerospace was founded in Delft, in the Netherlands, with ties to the Technical University of Delft, and also operates out of New Zealand, which has a growing reputation in the New Space industry stemming from being the home of Rocket Lab, one of the most successful new companies operating commercial launch services. The company’s entire mission is built around sustainable space-based economy, and it also has a thriving business in CubeSat propulsion, building systems that use food-grade propellants for safe fuels that don’t carry as much of an environmental cost.