On October 20, Singapore’s Equatorial Space Industries (ESI), a startup developing a nanosatellite launch vehicle, won the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC)
Innovation Challenge at the GITEX Future Stars 2018 event held in Dubai.
During the challenge organized by Dubai’s space agency MBRSC, ESI’s CEO Simon Gwozdz pitched the company’s hybrid propulsion launch solution which aims to facilitate the deployment of nanosatellites into orbit at disruptive rates. This earned ESI the challenge’s grand prize of US$30,000.
ESI, which was formed in early 2017 to develop launch solutions in Southeast Asia, is based in the National University of Singapore (NUS). The company is developing its launch vehicle series known as Volans, with the first version, Volans Block 1, currently in its R&D and prototype stage. Volans is designed to take a 30-70kg of payload to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and will allow for dedicated as well as ride-sharing launches. The company aims to target a $1 million list price per launch.
Volans will be a 2-stage vehicle with a length of 8m, a diameter of 1m, and a launch mass of 7 tons. It will utilize a paraffin/liquid oxygen (LOX) hybrid propulsion engine – the solution pitched during the MBRSC challenge. The first orbital launch of Volans Block 1 is targeted for end-2019.
ESI plans to launch from a retrofitted barge on the South China Sea. If successful, ESI’s launch will be the first ever orbital launch to take place from Southeast Asia, an equatorial region ideal for launches.