Toy-like rockets could someday carry tiny satellites and human ashes to space


Gigaom

When Microlaunchers was founded in 1995, rocket launches were dominated by large companies and governments interested in shipping huge amounts of cargo up to space.

Things aren’t too different today–the space industry still revolves around getting large items like telecommunications satellites to orbit–but change is happening. Companies like SpaceX and Firefly are reducing the cost for small payloads to make it to space. In 2013, more shoebox-sized satellites known as CubeSats launched than in all years prior combined.

Microlaunchers, which wants to manufacture large numbers of rockets that weigh anywhere between 220 pounds and 60 tons, is catching its second wind based on that trend. The startup would charge $50,000 to launch a single 2.2-pound CubeSat, and provide a private rocket that can launch at anytime weather permits. CEO Charles Pooley imagines rockets and launchpads small enough to be moved and handled as if they are toys. Larger rockets would be capable of carrying more cargo. Dozens…

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