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 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 the NEPTUNE series
Interorbital's smallest orbital launch vehicle, the NEPTUNE 1 (N1), is capable of lifting 6.35 kg (14.0-lbs) into a circular polar Low-Earth-Orbit. IOS also launches custom payloads of larger satellites on its progressively larger modular rocket variants. 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.
IOS was the launch provider for the Google Lunar X Prize team Synergy Moon
Until the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition was canceled, Interorbital had partnered with team Synergy Moon to provide the launch vehicle (IOS N8) to place Synergy Moon's lander and rover on the lunar surface. The GLXP competition pitted private enterprises against each other in a second race to the Moon.
IOS will continue its LUNAR programs with several upcoming Moon missions which include the LUNAR BULLET project, a Lunar soft-landing mission, and a Lunar sample return mission.
The IOS LUNAR BULLET mission will be similar to the early NASA Ranger missions. The LUNAR BULLET payload will be sent on a lunar direct trajectory to an predesignated impact site on the Moon. During the last leg of the mission the LUNAR BULLET probe will transmit images back to Earth of the approach to the Moon up until impact. This mission will verify IOS' automated deep-space navigation technology as well as verifying IOS' deep-space communications technology.
IOS' Lunar soft-landing system will be identical to the landing system developed for the GLXP. 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 at Interorbital Systems (IOS). 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.
Eventually, 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.