Founded just three years ago, iRocket has already proven to be a success story, and has joined into a lucrative partnership with NASA. iRocket is a startup, short for Innovative Rocket Technologies, and is the first completely autonomous rocket developer, relying heavily on 3D printing which makes the entire process incredibly cost-efficient, along with the fact that the rockets are reusable.
History of iRocket
iRocket began as a small startup based in New York, and their first big development was the Shockwave rocket, which is a small, reusable and autonomous rocket capable of carrying up to 3,3000 pounds of cargo. The engine is powered by a combination of methane and oxygen, which the team behind iRocket believes is the most efficient form of fuel for rocket technology.
iRocket’s goal has been clear since the beginning. They wish to produce the most efficient and affordable rocket technology possible in order to improve space missions of all kinds. Beyond wanting to launch satellites and cargo missions, they wish to play a role in cleaning up space debris in the future.
Partnership with NASA
It took only two years for NASA to team up with iRocket in a partnership, having seen much promise in the Shockwave after it had been tested. NASA has a growing demand for reusable rocket technology as it has proven to dramatically cut down on costs so that resources can go elsewhere. Beyond that, NASA is prioritizing commercialized air travel, and iRocket may be able to get them there sooner – within the next two years, if all goes according to plan.
As a result, iRocket has a budget of $50 million which will go to both development and testing in order to help NASA reach their goals. At the present moment, engines are being tested that will power Shockwave’s launch in order to carry payload under NASA’s guidance. Primarily, the use of methane gas is being intricately tested to determine whether or not it can act as an efficient source of fuel to ultimately facilitate NASA’s demands.
The partnership is also enabling iRocket to reach another goal, which is creating hypersonic capable rockets in order to travel far more quickly than what previous technology has allowed. This adds to the overall efficiency of the technology being developed, to make space travel faster as well as more affordable and accessible.
Future Missions and Contributions
As of now, iRocket is working hard alongside NASA to ensure that their technology is a success. The plan is that by 2025, on-orbit satellite servicing developed by iRocket will be up and running, and that the Shockwave will be a fully operational spacecraft allowing NASA to complete a multitude of missions that benefit space travel as a whole.
Another innovation in development of iRocket is a mobile launch platform that greatly reduces costs of maintaining and operating launch sites, which again can benefit NASA by lowering a rather expensive part of sending spacecraft into space. On top of that, they aim to allow for more high-speed internet access through satellites in low Earth orbit, and even contribute to cancer research.
iRocket is a Gamechanger in the Space Industry
It’s clear that iRocket is bringing a lot to the table in terms of the future of space travel and other space-related missions carried out by NASA every year. Autonomous, reusable, methane-powered rocket technology can dramatically change the way in which we launch people and cargo into space, drastically cutting down on costs while making the entire process more accessible in the commercial sense. That being said, NASA’s involvement in iRocket’s ambitions is destined to lead to a new era of space travel in the coming years.