German aerospace company, Polaris Spaceplanes, recently completed a 15-flight test campaign for their MIRA-Light prototype vehicle. Over a three-day period between August 22nd and September 8th, the flights aimed to demonstrate the aerodynamics and flight control systems of this mini spaceplane. The prototype, measuring just 2.5 meters in length, utilized four electric fans for propulsion.
During 10 out of the 15 flights, the MIRA-Light was equipped with a simulated aerospike engine to evaluate its impact on the vehicle’s performance. Throughout the test campaign, the prototype accumulated approximately 40 minutes of flight time, marking a successful milestone for Polaris Spaceplanes.
The data collected from the MIRA-Light flights will be used to develop a larger-scale MIRA vehicle. This next iteration will measure approximately 4.25 meters and will be equipped with a real linear aerospike engine to enable integrated flight systems testing.
The MIRA and MIRA-Light prototypes serve as precursors to Polaris Spaceplanes’ ultimate demonstration model, the NOVA. Following successful testing of the MIRA vehicle, Polaris plans to further scale up the design to a length of 6.7 meters for the NOVA model. NOVA will utilize four kerosene-fueled jet engines in addition to its functional aerospike engine, enabling rocket-powered flights at supersonic speeds in Earth’s upper atmosphere.
Assuming upcoming MIRA demonstration missions go well, Polaris Spaceplanes aims to begin flying the NOVA model in 2024. These prototypes are part of the company’s broader plan to develop a multipurpose hypersonic transport vehicle called AURORA. The planned AURORA is designed to carry a payload of up to 10,000 kilograms at suborbital speeds or up to 1,000 kilograms to any inclined orbit.
Polaris Spaceplanes has set its goal to fly the AURORA vehicle sometime between 2026 and 2027, demonstrating its commitment to advancing aerospace technology and pushing the boundaries of space exploration.
– European Spaceflight
– Polaris Spaceplanes Website