Rocket vs FPV Drone
On November 12, ARCAspace successfully completed testing of the second stage of its unique EcoRocket rocket. Despite the fact that the event itself is important for all mankind, the recorded video from the FPV drone added entertainment to this process, through which it was possible to capture the launch and dynamic rise of the EcoRocket into the sky, allowing in the meantime to record the first unofficial race between the drone and the rocket. Further details about this event and the uniqueness of the project.
ARCAspace (Romanian Association of Cosmonautics and Aeronautics) is an aerospace company based in Romania. The company was founded in 1999 by Dumitru Popescu. Since its founding, the developer has made several attempts to create various projects, including a suborbital spacecraft for the Ansari X Prize competition and several rockets.
ARCA is currently developing the EcoRocket rocket. The three-stage EcoRocket (originally planned as a two-stage rocket) uses hydrogen peroxide and kerosene in the third stage, but the first two stages take an even more unique approach to propulsion. The first and second stages of a rocket use water and a stabilizing agent. In addition to the water/steam propulsion system, the rocket forgoes the traditional nozzle design in favor of a circular aerodynamic thruster.
Conventional engines are designed with a nozzle optimized for a certain height. Typically, the first stage of a rocket uses an engine optimized for operation at sea level, and the second stage uses an engine optimized for operation in a vacuum.
Theoretically, Aerospike engines are much better at producing thrust at a wide range of altitudes, so one engine is optimized for any pressure, from sea level to vacuum. Despite the theoretical advantages, aerospace propulsion has not been widely adopted. Typically, they run into problems due to high pressure across the entire surface of the engine, which makes it difficult to cool them down and leads to overheating.
*Tests of the Aerospike rocket engine for the Launch Assist System. The data from the sensors showed a 15% increase in specific impulse compared to the classic bell-nozzle rocket engine tested earlier.
Perhaps the lower overall temperature of the steam, compared to kerosene or hydrogen in other rockets, would make aerospace propulsion more practical in this case. ARCA is going to use a typical nozzle in the third stage, which uses more traditional hot fuel. It’s certainly an interesting concept, and the idea of a reusable rocket (yes, the first two stages of the rocket are planned to be reusable) running mostly on clean propellant is intriguing, but whether this rocket will ever reach orbit remains in question — both technologically and for bureaucratic reasons.
For example, the first orbital test of EcoRocket was supposed to take place in early October over the Black Sea, but the company said: “The Romanian Civil Aviation Authority wrongfully denied ARCA permission to launch, absurdly stating that they had no authority in Romanian-controlled airspace, as a result causing EcoRocket’s maiden flight to be rescheduled to January 2022.”
However, despite the fact that the full-fledged launch of the rocket was postponed, the company conducted a test flight of the second stage earlier this month.
Drone vs EcoRocket
On November 12, the company conducted a tethered test flight of the second stage of the EcoRocket to collect more data on the aircraft’s flight performance and to increase confidence in the January launch. ARCA has installed a lot of cameras around the launch pad, but perhaps the most interesting footage comes from a camera on board the FPV drone.
He controlled the livyu_fpv drone. The flight potential of the drone was enough for about the first ten seconds, after which the rocket confidently began to move away, but the view from the onboard action camera in the immediate vicinity of the rocket is something that we will not see when launching standard regular rockets.