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Mk-II Aurora achieves rocket-powered flight

Mk-II Aurora
Mk-II Aurora in flight. Credit: Sawn Aerospace

Ibadan, 7 April, 2023. – Dawn Aerospace, a space transportation company with operations in New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the United States, has announced the successful completion of the first rocket-powered flight campaign of its spaceplane, the Mk-II Aurora. The flights occurred at Glentanner Aerodrome on the 29, 30, and 31 March. For the Company, the accomplishment signifies a major milestone in its mission to revolutionize space access as well and thus provide end-to-end space transportation.

Dawn Aerospace had previously tested Mk-II Aurora using surrogate jet engines, while last week’s campaign was the first conducted under rocket power. The Company subsequently achieved all the test objectives. The Mk-II Aurora design makes it suitable for aircraft-like operations and can fly multiple times daily. Unlike traditional rockets, Dawn vehicles take off and land horizontally on a runway and do not require a dedicated launch pad.

Dawn CEO, Stefan Powell, said, “To demonstrate rapid reusability in the first tests is proof of our core philosophy and confirmation that rocket-powered vehicles can work just like commercial jet aircraft. This fact allows us to rapidly test now, but in the future, it will completely revolutionize the economics of space access.” Powell also added, “These flights were a monumental achievement for Dawn Aerospace and the result of years of hard work from the team. After conducting three tests in three days, we believe Mk-II is the most rapidly reusable rocket-powered aircraft in operation,” he said.

Upon completing the Mk-II Aurora program, Dawn Aerospace plans to develop the Mk-III, a two-stage orbital vehicle capable of carrying over 1 ton on a suborbital flight or delivering a 250 kg satellite to LEO with an expendable second stage.

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