Watch Footage From Maine’s First Commercial Rocket Launch
Over the weekend, a first in rocketry successfully took off from northern Maine.
On Sunday, bluShift Aerospace out of Brunswick, launched their Stardust Gen.1 rocket. Liftoff took place at Loring Commerce Centre, in Limestone. The rocket is the first in the world to be powered by bio-derived fuel. The company says the non-toxic biofuel can be cheaply soured from farms, and is carbon-neutral. The launch also marked Maine's first commercial rocket launch. The company hopes to establish a space port here in Maine.
During a livestream back on Jan. 15, 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.
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.
Sunday's launch sent the Stardust 1.0 over 4,000 feet into the air, gently setting down a couple minutes later.
According to Space.com, the rocket's payload consisted 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 20 foot tall rocket can lift payloads of about 17 lbs. into the sky.