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Will an Aerospike (finally) Fly?

Conventional rocket engines (i.e. with bell nozzles) achieve optimal performance at exactly one pressure. Aerospike engines, by contrast, exhibit higher efficiencies at a wide range of atmospheric conditions. This makes them ideal for Single-Stage-To-Orbit vehicles. In spite of this promise, no Aerospike engine has ever launched a rocket.

Aerospace firm ARCASpace is looking to change this. They've spent two years developing an Aerospike-based launch platform (which they've documentd in a quirky youtube series called "Flight of the Aerospike"). It appears that ARCA's Aerospike-powered Launch Assist System (LAS) is ready to be tested, with a launch scheduled in April 2020.

Will ARCA successfully launch an Aerospike-propelled rocket by June 1st, 2020?

  • The launch is scheduled for April, but we'll give them until June in case they need to scrub for better weather.
  • For the purposes of this question, the launch will be considered a success if ARCA reports that the rocket reached an altitude of at least 1000 meters (including prior to any rapid unscheduled disassembly).

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