Press Release

Vector Space Systems to Close Out 2016 with Successful Test of 1st Stage Engine for NASA, Secures Approval to Build Rocket Factory

By SpaceRef Editor
December 15, 2016
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Vector Space Systems, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced the successful test of its first stage 5K-lbf engine of the Vector-R launch vehicle.

The engine test, which took place in Mojave, Calif. on Dec. 8, featured a single piece, 3D AM printed injector developed in partnership with NASA’s Science, Technology, and Mission Directorate (STMD) Flight Opportunities, a program which extends research labs into space-relevant environments by partnering with small satellite launch companies. Earlier this year, NASA provided a grant to Vector to design and test the injector.

Vector continues to push the envelope by being the first in the industry to pursue the LOX/Propylene propellant combination, which created the highest thrust to date from a LOX/Propylene fueled engine. This test of the 5K-lbf on flight fuels serves as a stepping stone to Vector’s first launch of the Vector-R slated for 2017, and moves the company one step closer to its mission of connecting space startups and innovators with affordable, reliable access to space.  

According to John Peugeot, the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center engineer who is managing this joint project on behalf of the agency’s Space Technology and Mission Directorate’s Flight Opportunities program, “This latest test with Vector Space Systems is a very visible demonstration of the benefits that Flight Opportunities is generating through Public-Private partnerships between industry, academia, and government.  Our team at Marshall is already starting to incorporate the lessons from this test into the next phase of injector design using Additive Manufacturing, and we are looking forward to getting one of these units into flight next year.”

In addition to the successful test last week, Vector announced the Pima County Board of Supervisors’ approval for the land lease to build Vector’s rocket factory in the area. The 25-year deal will have an overall direct and indirect economic impact on the region totaling $290M over the next five years, with additional job growth of 200 positions expected over the next three years.

Vector will be taking bids on the construction of the new facility at the Pima County Aerospace, Defense and Technology Business & Research Park in January 2017. The factory is set to break ground in Spring 2017 and will be the site for the manufacturing of the Vector-R and Vector-H launch vehicles, which will be transported to sites in Alaska and Florida for subsequent orbital launches.

“Vector has experienced tremendous growth throughout 2016 and we know that 2017 will be another groundbreaking year for us,” said Vector Space Systems co-founder and CEO, Jim Cantrell. “The funding from NASA Flight Opportunities to design and test a 3D printed rocket engine injector helps validate the market demand for a dedicated micro satellite launch vehicle. And as we move forward with the construction of our new rocket factory in Pima County, we look forward to contributing to Arizona’s economic development and to help keep aerospace and technology development in the Tucson area.”

About Vector Space Systems 

Founded by the original SpaceX founding team, Vector Space Systems is a disruptive company that connects space startups and innovators with affordable and reliable launch services, enabling platforms and vehicles to access space at a price never before possible. For more information, visit

About NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program 

Through the Flight Opportunities Program, STMD selects promising technologies from industry, academia and government, and tests them on commercial launch vehicles. The Flight Opportunities Program is funded by STMD, and managed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. STMD is responsible for developing the crosscutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions. For more information, visit

SpaceRef staff editor.