74 Orion St.,
|Sascha Deri, CEO|
David Hayrikyan, CTO
Luke Saindon, SME
Brook Halvorson, LTE
Seth Lockman, CD
|Products||Hybrid rocket engines|
|Services||Sub-orbital and orbital transportation|
Number of employees
Blushift Aerospace (stylized as bluShift Aerospace) is an employee-owned American aerospace firm based in Brunswick, Maine. Targeting the growing small sat and cube sat launch markets, bluShift is developing suborbital sounding rockets and small-lift orbital rockets which will be launched from a proposed new spaceport in Maine. The company has received primary funding from NASAs SBIR grant program, the National Science Foundations I-Corps grant program, the Maine Technology Institute, and the Maine Space Grant Consortium. The company has active operations at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station and Loring Air Force Base.
bluShift Aerospace was founded on the vision of rockets powered by a bio-derived fuel, making them safer for handlers and the environment. This new propulsion technology will allow bluShift to offer cost-competitive rideshares for small numbers of cubesats at a time, to client-preferred orbits, with low wait times to launch. All of their vehicles currently in development will use their proprietary biofuel and liquid nitrous oxide as propellants in a hybrid rocket engine, with the size and number of engines scaling for different sized rockets.
In mid-2013, brothers Sascha and Justin Deri discovered an organic substance on Justin's farm in Maine; they began testing the substance as a potential rocket fuel. In March 2014, Sascha founded bluShift and began iteratively testing the new bio-derived solid fuel, sourced from the same organic substance found on his brother's farm.
In 2017, bluShift optimized its biofuel formulation with the help of a grant from the Maine Technology Institute.
In 2019, bluShift optimized its modular hybrid rocket engine with the help of a NASA SBIR grant. State Senator Shenna Bellows sponsored legislation to support the development of a spaceport and launch site in Maine. The company's first test launch was initially planned for 2019, but was postponed to early 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Maine in March 2020, the launch was postponed further, first being scheduled for 21 October 2020.
In 2020, bluShift concluded its engine test firing campaign, with 154 successful static fires, and attempted its first test launch. bluShift performed a low-altitude test launch of the Stardust 1.0 rocket at the beginning of 2021, marking the first commercial, bio-fueled rocket launch, as well as the first commercial rocket launch in New England.
In March 2021, bluShift opened to public investment and funding, with a primary goal of US$500,000 and a secondary goal of US$1,070,000. As of July 2021 they had surpassed $620,000 in investments. In early September when the first round of investing closed, they had raised over $800,000.
In June 2021, bluShift announced they had received their first purchase order from Virginia-based company Max IQ to launch scientific experiment payloads for universities and other research institutions. The agreement calls for up to 60 small satellites to be launched at a cadence of no less than twice per year.
The company plans to perform a series of static fire tests of the full-scale MAREVL engine starting no earlier than October 2021, preceding the launch of Starless Rogue Beta, a scaled down version of the Starless Rogue suborbital launch vehicle.
The company plans to begin launching to orbit by early 2024, from a yet-undetermined site on the coast of Hancock County or Washington County. Due to Maine's high latitude, their orbital rockets will launch to high-inclination and polar orbits. They also are considering Cape Canaveral LC-48 as a potential low-inclination launch site in the future.
|Launch No.||Date/time||Vehicle||Customer/payload||Launch site||Apogee||Duration||Outcome|
|-||21 October 2020||Stardust||N/A||Test Launch Stand, Brunswick Landing, Maine||N/A (4,500 ft planned)||N/A||cancelled|
|First test launch attempt to be scheduled. Was cancelled and rescheduled to December to complete additional tests and final production of first launch vehicle.|
|1||27 December 2020 07:00 ET||Stardust 1.0||Kellogg Research Lab,
Falmouth High School
|Runway, Loring Commerce Center, Maine||N/A (4,000 ft planned)||N/A||postponed|
|Second test launch attempt. Stardust design modified during final production, to the "1.0" version. Launch site relocated to Loring Commerce Center near Limestone, Maine. Vehicle was vertical on launch stand, but launch was scrubbed due to unfavorable weather. However, the launch team performed several more engine and propellant tests, including a final static fire.|
|14 January 2021 07:00 ET||Runway, Loring Commerce Center, Maine||N/A (4,000 ft planned)||N/A||postponed|
|Third test launch attempt. Vehicle had passed all additional tests. Launch was scrubbed due to unfavorable weather and winds.|
|31 January 2021 14:45 ET||Runway, Loring Commerce Center, Maine||1,250 m (4,100 ft) AGL||~2 minutes||Success|
|Fourth attempt; first successful test launch. First countdown of the day at 7:00 ET resulted in failed ignition. After resetting the vehicle, the second countdown was held just minutes before launch due to wayward recreational snowmobilers entering the range. Third countdown resulted in successful vehicle launch, apogee, segment separation, both parachute deployments, and soft touchdown. Carried three payloads in 3U Cubesat form factor enclosures: two commercial customer payloads, from Kellogg Research Lab and Rockets Insights, and one academic, from the Falmouth, Maine High School. Recovery teams on snowmobiles retrieved the rocket components safely. Team considered possibility of reuse of the vehicle, but instead disassembled and analyzed the hardware to aid in future rocket development.|
|-||June 2021||Stardust 1.1||N/A||Runway, Loring Commerce Center, Maine||N/A (>1,250 m (4,100 ft) planned)||N/A||cancelled|
|Was planned to be second test launch for further engineering development.|
|-||August 2021||Stardust 2.0||N/A||Runway, Loring Commerce Center, Maine||N/A (>10,000 m (33,000 ft) planned)||N/A||cancelled|
|Was planned to be third test launch for further engineering development.|
|2||NET December 2021||Starless Rogue Beta||TBA||Coastal Launch Pad, Hancock/Washington County, Maine||TBA (>10 km (6.2 mi) planned)||TBD||Planned|
|Second test launch and first, low-altitude launch of Starless Rogue; the company stated after the first launch of Stardust 1, it will launch its "first commercial rocket to space in 12-18 months".|
|3||NET Q2 2022||Starless Rogue||TBA||Coastal Launch Pad, Hancock/Washington County, Maine||TBA (>100 km (62 mi) planned)||TBD||Planned|
|First launch to space for Starless Rogue, pending successful low altitude test launch of Starless Rogue Beta.|
|-||NET Q1 2024||Red Dwarf||TBA||Coastal Launch Pad, Hancock/Washington County, Maine||TBA (>120 km (75 mi) LEO planned)||TBD||Planned|
|First test launch of Red Dwarf to orbit.|
|-||NET 2024||Red Dwarf||Max IQ||Coastal Launch Pad, Hancock/Washington County, Maine||TBA (>120 km (75 mi) LEO planned)||TBD||Planned|
|First launch of Red Dwarf with Max IQ experiment & research satellites.|
All bluShift launch vehicles announced thus far will utilize and be based around the Modular Adaptable Rocket Engine for Vehicle Launch (MAREVL) engine in various configurations. This is a hybrid (solid fuel/liquid oxidizer) engine which will be scalable and modular, able to be used in clusters for different vehicle configurations.
Prototypes of MAREVL were test fired at the facility in Brunswick between 2014 and 2018 along with prototype mixtures of the biofuel.
The first version of MAREVL at a small scale completed its test firing campaign in 2019.
The full scale MAREVL is expected to undergo a test firing campaign beginning in late 2021.
|Stardust 1||Brunswick; Loring||H: 20 ft (6.1 m)
W: 14 in (0.36 m)
|1.25 km (4,100 ft)||8 kg||1||1|
|Stardust 2||Brunswick; Loring||H: 22 ft (6.7 m)
W: 24 in (0.61 m)
|15 km (50,000 ft)||30 kg||1||0|
|Starless Rogue Beta||Brunswick; Hancock or Washington County||H: 37 ft (11 m)
W: 24 in (0.61 m)
|120 km (75 mi)||30 kg||2||0|
|Starless Rogue||Hancock or Washington County||H: 37 ft (11 m)
W: 30 in (0.76 m)
|250 km (155 mi)||30 kg||2||0|
|Red Dwarf||Hancock or Washington County||H: 78 ft (24 m)
W: 40 in (1.0 m)
Stardust rockets are launched from a mobile launch stand that is horizontal during transportation, then verticated at the launch site. The truss on the stand is about 3 times the height of the rocket, and has flame diverters at the base. The launch stand and associated ground equipment is powered by several mobile solar electrical power units.
A single-stage reusable prototype with 8 kg (18 lb) payload capacity that can reach maximum altitudes of up to 1.25 km (4,100 ft). Version 1.0 first successfully launched on 31 January 2021. There is a possibility of future Stardust 1.1 experimental launches with minor upgrades and changes.
Second single-stage reusable prototype expected to be the primary testing vehicle leading up to all of their future full-sized commercial rockets. Payload capacity is expected to be 30 kg. Maximum altitude expected to be between 10–50 km (6–30 miles).
A two-stage launch vehicle, with the first stage consisting of a cluster of MAREVL engine units, and the upper stage and payload section similar to the Stardust 2 vehicle. Will provide about 6–10 minutes of microgravity for 30 kg (66 lb) payloads on suborbital trajectories of up to 250 km (155 mi). The vehicle can also serve as a hypersonics testbed.
A scaled down version of Starless Rogue, with only a single first stage engine, used for high altitude and supersonic testing. Uses the smaller payload section based on Stardust 1; regular Starless Rogue has the larger payload section based on Stardust 2.
A three-stage launch vehicle with 30 kg (66 lb) payload capacity to low-Earth orbit. The focus will be on polar and sun-synchronous orbits with an eventual biweekly launch cadence. First launch planned for 2024.
Was a planned multi-stage sub-orbital launch test vehicle to prepare for regular orbital operational launches with the Red Dwarf rocket. Appears to be no longer actively planned and its purpose replaced by the Stardust and Starless Rogue groups of vehicles.