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Vector Completes Successful Flight Test of Vector-R Launch Vehicle

By | May 4, 2017
      The Vector-R launch vehicle. Photo: Vector.

      The Vector-R launch vehicle. Photo: Vector.

      Vector, a microsatellite launch company, announced the successful test launch of the P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle. According to the company, this flight test is the first of several upcoming launches that will enable Vector to evaluate critical technologies and functions of the operational family of Vector launch vehicles.

      The flight test, which took place in Mojave, California, on May 3, featured Vector’s first stage 5,000-lbf engine and 3D additive manufacturing printed injector, which was successfully tested in December 2016 and developed in partnership with NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program. This specific use of a 3D additive manufacturing injector is a recent development in manufacturing technology, according to Vector. Traditional manufacturing uses a machine to produce multiple parts before workers to assemble them together, but 3D additive manufacturing technology does not need assembly since it is built in one piece. This new manufacturing technology will reduce both cost and labor, as well as cut down on wasted raw material, according to the company. Vector believes it will also improve quality issues such as the alignment of parts.

      “With this successful in-flight operation of an additively manufactured injector, we have now moved the maturity of this technology to the next level for small launch vehicles,” said John Peugeot, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center project manager for 3D additive manufacturing.

      This announcement comes on the heels of Vector’s recent agreement to conduct a flight test in Camden County, Georgia. Vector and key members of the spaceport community in Camden County showcased the Vector-R launch system and concept of operations for future launch operations on-site. The summer launch from Spaceport Camden is part of a series of incremental launches which will help Vector further validate the company’s technology, mature launch vehicle design and operations, and evaluate candidate launch sites for the future.