SpaceShipTwo fires its hybrid engine. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)
Part 2 of 2
by Douglas Messier
There were 15 flight tests of eight suborbital boosters in 2018, including six flights of two vehicles — Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard — that are designed to carry passengers on space tourism rides.
The race to provide launch services to the booming small satellite industry also resulted in nine flight tests of six more conventional boosters to test technologies for orbital systems. Two of the boosters tested are designed to serve the suborbital market as well.
A pair of Chinese startups took advantage of a loosening of government restrictions on launch providers to fly their rockets two times apiece. There was also suborbital flight tests of American, Japanese and South Korean rockets.
The table below shows flight tests of suborbital launch vehicles last year.
FLIGHT TESTS OF SUBORBITAL LAUNCH VEHICLES, 2018
Hyperbola-1S (Shian Quxian 1S)
Flight test by i-space; rocket with mass simulator reached 108 km (67.1 miles/354,331 ft)
Hainan Island (China)
VSS Unity (SpaceShipTwo)
Flight test by Virgin Galactic; first powered flight by Unity and fifth of the ...