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Lin Industrial is a Russian startup business that believes sending satellites into space should be less epic blastoff and more paper airplane.
Only recently entering the Skolkovo fold as a resident, the company already has a co-investor and is filing for a grant to develop ultralight rocket technology that it says will make escaping earth’s gravity child’s play.
Once it's off the drawing board, the Aldan rocket – named after a gold-flecked river in Far Eastern Siberia – will be able to shuttle microsatellites to low-earth orbit for a fraction of the current costs, which stand at around $80,000 per kilogram, the company says.
The two-stage Aldan rocket is designed to be 14.4m tall. Photo: Lin Industrial
“The appearance of this kind of rocket will bring about fundamental changes in this growing market. Young companies, science institutes and universities will be able to send their own satellites into space cheaply and quickly,” says Lin Industrial chief technical officer Alexander Ilin.
Internationally the company sees stern competition from Virgin Galactic, Interorbital Systems and Rocket Lab, but looks likely to find domestic success more quickly as the only firm to service small payloads of up to 100kg.
“No one even wants to get involved in such tasks except us,” the firm’s general manager Alexey Kaltushkin says.
As technology advances, more and more companies are scaling down their satellites to cut costs. This paves the way for whole networks of micro- and nano-satellites to be established, ideal for providing mobile phone coverage in remote areas or to monitor traffic in real time, he says.
There are also myriad military uses for small satellites, making the deep-pocketed defense industry a potentially key client, Kaltushkin says.
The rocket is to use liquid oxygen and refined kerosene as propellents
“We are counting on cooperating with United Rocket and Space Corporation and Roskosmos in the future, of course,” he adds, referring to the government agency responsible for space activity.
Getting the business off the ground may not be as simple as the potential rockets themselves, however. Lin Industrial estimates it needs to raise at least 500 million rubles ($13.5 million) to get to the stage where it can launch a prototype rocket.
Currently, the company has completed an engineering study into the fuel delivery system and is designing the prototype.