Evolution Space Targets April Launch Date For First Space Mission
21 March 2023
Evolution Space, a Mojave, Calif-based solid propulsion and launch provider, announced today it is targeting April 22 for the launch of its first space mission, Gold Chain Cowboy.
Evolution Space anticipates the 10" diameter, 22-foot tall, 911-pound Gold Chain Cowboy rocket will fly to roughly 104km - 4km past the Kármán line, the internationally recognized boundary of space - at just over 5 times the speed of sound. The vehicle will fly from a private test range near company facilities in the Mojave Desert.
Gold Chain Cowboy aims to build off the early success of the company's first full-scale mission, Too Busy Chasing Stars, flown in November, 2021. "Chasing Stars was great early tech validation, and it showed us the work we had to do to reach full product viability" said Steve Heller, Evolution's Founder and Chief Executive Officer. Heller explained the previous vehicle underperformed relative to simulation due to underestimated aerodynamic imbalances, and experienced recovery failure due to a faulty explosive bolt. The company says it has tested and addressed both issues.
In the 18 months since its last full-scale mission, Evolution has focused on subsystem and subscale testing, both in static and in flight. The company has privately executed two subscale test missions - No More Questions in May, 2022 and Expressionless in February, 2023 - validating its upgraded systems and solutions in a full-stack arrangement before attempting another full scale vehicle. "We've been very intentional in every element of the design, testing, derisking, and QC phases of development for this vehicle" said Tony Pipe, Evolution's Chief Engineer. "Every subsystem has been tested and derisked independently, appropriate margin has been added to likely failure points, and the overall design is streamlined significantly relative to the previous iteration." Pipe added the company has improved its simulation processes and software to better predict and prepare for a variety of flight outcomes.
Crossing the Kármán Line would add Evolution to an exclusive list of under 10 privately funded US startups to achieve space.