Standing nearly 25m tall, it is a two stage orbital space launch vehicle designed to reliably deploy small satellites in support of missions for the UK Space Agency (UKSA), European Space Agency (ESA) and commercial satellite companies from all around the world.
The first stage produces 500,000 Newtons of thrust (approx. 112,000 lbf) and the upper stage produces 45,000 Newtons (approx. 10,000 lbf).
Both stages are fueled with clean-burning Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) propellants.
500 kg to 200×200 km 0° equatorial* orbit.
350 kg to 600×600 km 98° sun-synchronous orbit.
* – Equatorial performance is based on a launch site with a latitude within 30° of the equator.
An extensive ground test program is planned with initial upper stage combustion chambers, turbopumps, injectors and RCS thrusters planned to be tested at Westcott, near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire — the historic home of rocketry in the UK. Hot-fire testing should begin there in 2017.
The larger first stage chamber is too large to operate safely at Westcott, so we require a more isolated site for that. We are looking at various alternatives, with South Wales looking most favourable.
We hope to be able to arrange for the public to watch some, if not all, of our tests.
Horizon is preparing for a 10-flight test program with all test launches flying from a new site in northern Scotland.
The first flights are planned to be sub-orbital tests of the first stage alone, and quite unusually, they may fly westerly into the Atlantic. Later flights will fly north, as we build our experience and attempt to reach polar orbit from the UK.
For operational flights, we can continue to fly from the UK for appropriate missions, but our mobile launch facility gives us great flexibility and we have the option to partner with the ESA and operate from their Guiana Space Centre in South America, to possibly use the same Australian launch site at Woomera where British rockets historically flew (including the original Black Arrow), or perhaps utilise the extensive tracking facilities available at the US Air Force’s Eastern Test Range at Cape Canaveral, Florida.