IOS NEPTUNE 1 (N1) Test Rocket
Interorbital's NEPTUNE series modular launch vehicles are built from one or more Common Propulsion Modules, or CPMs, connected in parallel with optional tandem upper stages. Once a space mission's requirements are specified, the launch vehicle can be custom-built for the mission by varying the number of CPMs and tandem upper stages.
Since the Common Propulsion Modules have fewer systems than standard launch vehicles, they can be rapidly built on an an assembly line. Since the CPMs are all identical, the modular rockets can be assembled with efficient, standardized assembly techniques.
CPM TV, the first launch of a NEPTUNE series rocket component
Interorbital's smallest orbital launch vehicle, the single CPM-based NEPTUNE 1 (N1), is capable of lifting between 6.35 kg (14.0-lbs) and 12-kg (31-lbs) into a circular polar Low-Earth-Orbit. Future multiple CPM variants will be capable of launching progressively larger payloads to Earth orbit and beyond. The flexibility of the NEPTUNE rocket-series allows IOS to quickly customize launch vehicles according to customer need.
With its low-cost satellite kit-and-launch packages, IOS offers the world's most cost-effective space solutions for small-sat customers. Purchase of an IOS satellite kit and launch, complete with the hardware necessary to build a satellite, also places the customer on the IOS launch manifest for the next available flight.
Lunar Impact/Imaging Mission
The first IOS Lunar mission is designated LUNAR BULLET. The IOS LUNAR BULLET mission will be similar to the early NASA Ranger missions. The LUNAR BULLET spacecraft will be sent on a lunar-direct ascent trajectory to a predesignated impact site on the Moon. During the last leg of the mission the LUNAR BULLET spacecraft will transmit images back to Earth of the approach to the Moon until impact. In addition, the spacecraft will carry a 500-gram air-bag-encapsulated payload that will be jettisoned from the spacecraft for a soft landing on the Lunar surface just before the Lunar Bullet crashes into the Moon. This mission will verify IOS' automated deep-space navigation technology as well as verifying IOS' deep-space communications technology.
The following Lunar endeavors will include a Lunar soft-landing mission and a Lunar sample return mission.
IOS' Lunar soft-landing system will be identical to the landing system developed by IOS for the Google Lunar X Prize. The landing hardware is based on the Soviet LUNA 9 lander, the first Earth probe to successfully land on the Lunar surface in 1965. The landing system includes a retro rocket and an airbag deceleration system. The payload will include communications and video hardware tested by the LUNAR BULLET probe.
A lunar sample return mission is currently in development. The mission’s primary hardware component is the Robotic Interplanetary Prospector Excavator and Retriever, or the RIPPER. RIPPER is an autonomous system, designed to soft-land on the moon or any other body in the Solar System, select surface samples, and then excavate and retrieve them for return to Earth. Upcoming tests will be carried out with the IOS VIRUS lander prototype. The VIRUS lander prototype is powered by a single throttleable liquid upper-stage engine.
In the future, IOS plans to establish a lunar base, with its own regular shuttles to and from the Earth for scientists, industrialists, and tourists alike. IOS manned Lunar space technology will begin with the development of its two-man LEO capsule spacecraft.
Venus, a long-term destination for IOS rockets
Long-term plans see IOS rockets launched on trajectories throughout the solar system. From establishing settlements on the Moon, Mars, and Venus to sending probes to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, the modularity of the NEPTUNE series rockets allow Interorbital to change mission profile and destination without the exhaustive development cycles and the extreme costs that characterize the classic aerospace industry.
As IOS production ramps up, expect to see the NEPTUNE Rocket sending payloads to exotic destinations near and far in the Solar System, and beyond. In particular, IOS will provide launch solutions to make human space travel more widely available. Whether exploring remote destinations with scientific probes or ferrying tourists and scientists to the company's research station at the Moon's Southpole, IOS will be a key player in the expansion of New Space.