Monday, November 10, 2014

Ontario Firm Building Rocket Engines for Space Port America

          by Brian Orlotti

It's not well known outside rocket science circles, but recent launches from Spaceport America in New Mexico used suborbital sounding rockets built by Colorado based UP Aerospace which included rocket engines designed and built by Gormley, Ontario based Cesaroni Technology.

As outlined in the October 23rd, 2014 Las Cruses Bulletin article "UP Aerospace launches again from spaceport," the most recent flight of the UP Aerospace SpaceLoft SL-9 rocket reached an estimated 407,862 feet, or about 77 miles above the Earth’s surface on October 22nd.

According to Jeroen Louwers of Cesaroni Technology, the firm doesn't only build rockets. It also manufactures a variety of other products for the the aerospace, defence, and automotive industries.

But of course, Louwers is himself a rocket scientist who originally came from the Netherlands, where he earned his PhD in propellant chemistry. Prior to his employment with Cesaroni, Louwers worked at a Dutch company that sold electronics (such as altimeters and accelerometers) to model rocket makers.

Spaceloft SL-9 trajectory. Graphic c/o UP Aerospace.
During his tenure at Cesaroni, Louwers has been involved in the building of ablative insulators. Ablative insulators are used in the interiors of solid rocket motors to prevent damage from the intense heat of a rocket's thrust.

Other projects at Cesaroni include a design study on behalf of the Department of National Defence (DND) for a Canadian launch vehicle and a design study for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for an indigenous launch vehicle utilizing a thrust vectored hybrid rocket motor.

As outlined in the November 7th, 2006 Cesaroni press release "Inaugural space flight uses Cesaroni Technology propulsion system," the inaugural flight of the Spaceloft XL rocket using Cesaroni technology took place on September 25th, 2006.

According to the press release, while "the rocket did not reach its expected altitude of 110 km because of an airframe instability, the flight was a successful demonstration of the rocket motor developed and built by Cesaroni Technology, Inc."

According to Louwers, most of the Spaceloft XL engine's parts are designed and built in-house at Cesaroni. UP Aerospace launches the Spaceloft XL rockets from its facility at Spaceport America.

Louwers also mentioned that, in addition to its commercial endeavours, Cesaroni supports the Canada-Norway Student Sounding Rocket exchange program (CaNoRock), by supplying the motors used in the program through a European distributor.

CaNoRock is a partnership among the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Saskatchewan, the University of Oslo, University of Tromsø, the Andøya Space Centre and the Norwegian Center for Space Related Education (NAROM) which provides undergraduate university students a week at Andøya in order to gain hands-on experience in sounding rocket and payload instrument design.

Participants earn course credit for completing the program, which is funded through the CSA and the University of Alberta Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund. CaNoRock is intended to motivate undergraduate students to specialize in space-focused technologies.

Brian Orlotti.
The program also provides background information and practical experience with other platforms such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, aka drones) and long duration balloon missions.

Brian Orlotti is a Toronto-based IT professional and a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

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