IOS NEPTUNE System Launch Vehicles
Explore Low Earth Orbit
Interorbital Systems (IOS) is developing a new generation of modular, low-cost, rapid-response, manned and unmanned orbital launch vehicles. NEPTUNE System Launch Vehicles are designed for minimum cost and maximum reliability. The launch vehicles do not incorporate unnecessary, expensive, complex, failure-prone, and performance-limiting systems such as wings and turbopumps. Since the modular NEPTUNE System Launch Vehicles are designed to be deployed from a private island launch site or from the open ocean, launch costs have been radically reduced, and launch scheduling is based on customer demand (not on placement in a spaceport's launch rotation). The IOS modular rocket system is an evolved version of a similar system under development by OTRAG in the 1970's. Lutz Kayser, the former head of the OTRAG team, is an important consultant on the IOS project.
Each member of the modular NEPTUNE System Launch Vehicle family is assembled from multiple Common Propulsion Modules (CPMs). Payload capacity can be varied by increasing or decreasing the number of CPMs and varying the burn times of each CPM in the array.
Modular Rocket Systems
Common Propulsion Module
Each standard Common Propulsion Module is composed of two propellant tanks, a single throttleable, ablatively-cooled, gimballed rocket engine, a valve unit, an optional roll system, and a controller. Depending on the configuration, the modules can operate in either blowdown or pressurant tank-fed modes. The capacity of the propellant tanks is regulated by varying their lengths. Construction costs are kept low by building the primary rocket components in-house, using off-the-shelf secondary components, and applying efficient assembly-line/mass-production methodology.
Liquid Rocket Engines and Propellants
A single, throttleable liquid rocket engine powers each CPM. Thrusts varies between 7,500 and 15,000 pounds. Storable, high-density white fuming nitric acid (WFNA) and turpentine are the CPMs primary propellants. These low-cost, storable, environmentally-friendly propellants provide reliable and efficient hypergolic ignition. The main rocket engine is gimbaled to provide pitch and yaw control. On-off cold-gas thrusters provide roll control for a stand-alone CPM.
Neptune Modular Configurations
The CPMs can be arranged in any number of configurations. A few examples are listed below.
-- N1: The N1 is a three-stage launch vehicle assembled from a single CPM two hypergolic liquid common upper stages. It has a maximum payload capacity of 4.5-kg to a polar, circular orbit of 310-km and 3-kg to 550-km. It will be the worlds smallest and lowest-cost orbital launch vehicle.
-- N3: The N3 is a three- or four-stage launch vehicle assembled from 3 CPMs with solid kick-motors providing upper stage propulsion. It has a maximum payload capacity of 18-kg to a polar, circular orbit of 310-km. The N3 will be used to launch a single small sat or a series of CubeSat and TubeSat payloads with up to 10 nano satellites per launch.
-- N5: The N5 is a three- or four-stage launch vehicle assembled from 5 CPMs with solid kick-motors providing upper stage propulsion. It has a maximum payload capacity of 30- to 40-kg to a polar, circular orbit of 310-km. The N5 will be used to launch a single small sat or a series of CubeSat and TubeSat payloads with up to 24 nano satellites per launch.
-- N8 LUNA : The N8 is a four-stage launch vehicle assembled from 8 long CPMs. It has a maximum payload capacity of 500-kg to a polar, circular orbit of 310-km and 25-kg to the surface of the Moon. The N8 LUNA will be used to launch a team SYNERGY MOON Google Lunar X PRIZE payload to the Moon.
A single CPM is a high-performance suborbital rocket, the SR 145, capable of launching a 145-kg payload to an altitude of 310-km. Payload space is available. Test your ion engine or comms above the Karman Line!
Solid Rocket Motors and Propellants
Interorbital is completing the development of its Minerva solid rocket motor. Single or multiple Minerva solid rocket motors will provide propulsion for optional kick stages. The Minerva solid-rocket motor propellant is a mix of Ammonium Perchlorate, HTPB, and aluminum plus various proprietary catalysts and other secondary components. Each Minerva solid motor has 26-lbs of propellant and produces 500 pounds of thrust.