Reusable Smallsat Launcher
A bold venture to develop a commercial reusable launch system to orbit 250-kg payloads for $11 million will get its first test in 2014, when Swiss Space Systems (S3) plans to fly a mockup suborbital shuttle. S3 hopes to begin flight tests at the end of 2017. Launched from an Airbus A300, the unmanned shuttle will deploy its payload on an expendable upper stage, then glide home. Commercial flights are scheduled to begin in 2018 with the 30-kg CleanSpace One space-debris-deorbiting satellite for Swiss university EPFL and the first four of 28 5-kg microgravity nanosats for Swiss “exomedicine” start-up Spacepharma.