Swiss Space Systems Selects Canadian Test Range

SOAR Second Stage Space Plane Image Credit: Swiss Space Systems

One of the most intriguing of a growing number of NewSpace companies targeting the small satellite launch market is Swiss Space Systems.  With its plans for 2/3 reusable launch system consisting of an Airbus 300 carrier plane, and unmanned fully re-usable SOAR rocket plane as a second stage, and an expendable third stage capable of placing up 250 kg payload into low Earth orbit, S3 is pushing the boundaries of re-usability in a market segment which industry leader SpaceX has little interest.  As such, and along with Virgin Galactic and XCOR, it is a company to worth watching, in part because it has chosen to begin with smallsat delivery, whereas the two better known companies are initially focusing on suborbital space tourism.  (S3 is interested as well, and is currently dipping its toe in the water with a globally promoted series of parabolic “zero-G” airplane flights set to begin shortly in Asia)


Recently, S3 announced that it is establishing a Canadian test site with Canadore College in the City of North Bay, Ontario.

From the story ” A big drawing card for the company to come to North Bay is having a rather large geographic flight test corridor at its disposal.

Beginning this fall, helicopter drop-tests of a shuttle mock-up equipped with drone flight systems will commence and will continue throughout the 2014-15 academic year.

A next phase involves helicopter releases at an altitude of 5,000 metres to test flight systems and the craft’s aerodynamics.”

Like a number of its contemporary companies, and perhaps to a greater degree than most, S3 is following a disbursed business model which will see its spacecraft launching out of a number of airfields all over the world, presenting a regional and even local capacity which holds customer appeal and is more in keeping with the evolving nature of the small satellite market.


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