First Rocket Powered By Biofuel To Launch From Maine This Weekend
After a weather delay, a first in rocketry will take off from northern Maine this weekend.
A rocket powered by biofuel will launch from Loring Commerce Centre, in Limestone. It will be the first rocket in the world to be launched using bio-derived fuel, and Maine's first commercial rocket launch. The take-off was set for Jan. 15, but was delayed and eventually scrubbed due to weather. Now it looks like Sunday, Jan. 31 is marked for a new attempt at liftoff. The launch is scheduled for 10 a.m., with the livestream beginning at 9 a.m.
Built by Brunswick-based bluShift Aerospace, the Stardust suborbital rocket is the startup's first prototype to launch. The Stardust Gen.1 rocket is 20 feet tall, and can lift payloads of about 17 lbs. into the sky. According to Space.com, will carry a payload from three different entities.
The astronomy website says the payload consists of:
A cubesat prototype built by Falmouth High School and Maine university students carrying a GoPro camera, radio transmitter and other sensors; an experiment from Kellogg's Research Labs of Nashua, New Hampshire to test the vibration-dampening effects of the nickel-titanium shape memory alloy nitinol; and a cubesat enclosure filled with stroopwafels — the Dutch wafer cookies — being flown by the software development company Rocket Insights as an homage to their Amsterdam-based parent company Dept.
The launch will last about two minutes, sending the rocket about 4,000 feet into the sky. According to bluShift Aerospace, the non-toxic biofuel can be cheaply soured from farms, and is carbon-neutral. The launch will be streamed live on Youtube.
bluShift Aerospace launched in 2014. In 2019, the company received $124,999 in funding from NASA. Their goal is to eventually send satellites into polar orbits around the earth. They plan to continue to launch their rockets from the runway of was once Loring Air Force Base.
During last week's launch attempt, bluShift Aerospace said they're in a bit of a space race with Nova Scotia. Launching sites for polar orbital satellites needs to be near a coastal area with a southern ocean overflight area, making Maine (or Nova Scotia) a perfect location.