bluShift Aerospace's First Biofuel Rocket Launch 'Scrubbed Due to Weather'

The space startup planned to deliver three experiments into space aboard the Stardust rocket.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Startup bluShift Aerospace planned to launch its first biofuel Stardust suborbital rocket prototype on Friday at 10:00 AM EST (1500 GMT), carrying three payloads to an altitude of 4,000 feet (1,220 meters). The rocket, which measures 20 feet (6 m), would have then safely parachuted back to Earth.

However, due to weather-related issues, the company's first launch attempt was scrubbed at 2:44 PM EST, according to the live stream on YouTube.

The next attempt is slated for Wednesday, Jan. 20.


UPDATE Jan. 15, 2:44 PM EST: bluShift's first launch attempt 'scrubbed' due to weather

The company's first launch attempt was scrubbed due to weather at 2:44 PM EST, after several hours of delays. "Years and years of blood, sweat, and tears" went into this potential rocket launch, according to bluShift's live YouTube stream of the Friday launch attempt.

However — it's very important to note how rare it is for an agency or company to successfully launch a new rocket on the first attempt.

Like many rocket-hopefuls before it, BluShift will try again — with the next launch window on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Update 11:50 a.m. EST (1650 GMT): The launch is now aiming for between 2 and 3 p.m. EST (1900-2000 GMT). The rocket will also be flying to a height of 5,200 feet (1,584 meters).

Update 10:20 a.m. EST (1520 GMT): bluShift Aerospace is still struggling to establish a livestream at their launch site in Limestone, Maine but should be flying soon.

Three experiments

The Stardust rocket is set to deliver three experiments into space: a cubesat prototype, an experiment from Kellogg's Research Labs of Nashua, New Hampshire, and a cubesat enclosure with stroopwafels, a type of Dutch wafer cookies.  

bluShift's CEO Sascha Deri told that the launch is eco-friendly. "We are a group of engineers and space aficionados that are passionate about not only producing rockets to launch satellites and experiments to space, but protecting our favorite planet of them all, Earth," explained Deri.

Stardust's motor runs on a biofuel that is non-toxic and carbon-neutral and created by Deri and his team. The motor is a bluShift hybrid rocket motor called MAREVL (Modular Adaptable Rocket Engine for Vehicle Launch).

Small payloads

Stardust can carry payloads of just over 17 lbs. (8 kilograms) into space. That's fine with Deri and his team who built bluShift Aerospace in 2014 to engineer environmentally-friendly boosters capable of launching small satellites into orbit.

Still, Deri told a group of reporters on Thursday that he felt quite nervous before the launch. "I think there's a certain level of excitement, but I think anxiety and stress is all higher than anything else," Deri said. "We're going to breathe the moment we hear the engine roar, and then we'll stop for about two minutes. And when it lands safely, we will celebrate. I think that's when we will be truly, ultimately excited," he continued.

While we hoped all would go well with the launch there's no doubt that bluShift might play a vital role in revolutionizing the world of space travel. Time will tell as the firm works on using larger rockets to send satellites into polar orbits from Maine.

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