A New Zealand-based corporation has obtained clearance from a traditional airport to operate a suborbital space aircraft.
Dawn Aerospace received a nod from the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA) to launch an Mk-II Aurora spacecraft intended to send satellites into orbit on several regular flights to a traditional airport whose name and location have not yet been disclosed.
Typically, such spacecraft need to be launched at remote sites, or otherwise, the nearby commercial airspace would be shut down by authorities to enable the space planes to fly out of the atmosphere.
In a declaration, Dawn Chief Technical Officer Stefan Powell said, "The challenge of getting to space is equal parts the vehicle, the launch infrastructure, and the regulation,"
"We have made great strides in revolutionizing the hardware. Today is a significant step towards the rest; showing we can fly from one of the thousands of civilian airports around the world, and do so without kicking other aircraft out of their airspace. This is the key to rapid, reusable, and sustainable spaceflight."
The company added in the statement that placing the Dawn Aerospace vehicle at an airport could minimize costs and other complications in the long run. The business and CAA have spent 18 months establishing flight procedures and systems to enable Dawn's aircraft to operate safely at the airport along with commercial flights.
"The New Zealand Space Agency has also played a key role in ensuring that this certification will work in combination with a high-altitude vehicle license, thus providing access in time to suborbital space," said Dawn.
Dawn said the first Mk-II Aurora test flights would take place in 2021 in more isolated airspace at an unidentified "remote airport" on the southern island of New Zealand.
Source - SPACE.COM