Author Topic: Bellatrix Aerospace launch vehicles and satellite propulsion systems  (Read 4672 times)

Offline vyoma

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An Indian company named Bellatrix Aerospace is developing small/medium capacity launch vehicles, satellite propulsion and electric propulsion systems.

Launch vehicles:
Garuda:
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1 tonne to 700km SSO; 3m payload fairing diameter; 2 stage - 1st stage powered by single Kalam engine, and 2nd stage powered by single Aeon engine with multiple restart capability.

Chetak:
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150KG to 700km SSO; 2m payload fairing diameter; 2 stage - 1st stage powered by 4xAeon engines and 2nd stage powered by single downrated Aeon engine with restart capability.


Rocket engines:
Kalam:
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Garuda, for the first time, will feature a unique thermodynamic cycle for its first stage engine. This engine called Kalam, will feature combustion tap-off cycle, i.e. it uses a pump-fed engine design with a tap-off cycle to take small amount of combustion gases from main combustion chamber to power the engine turbopumps. This produces high impulse and is much simpler than pre-burning staged combustion because of its single combustion chamber and graceful shut down mode. This engine is designed to generate 800kN thrust in vacuum.

Aeon:
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The Aeon engine will feature turbo-pumps driven by Brushless DC motors powered by advanced batteries. This will eliminate the need for complex turbo-machinery and highly complex plumbing. This engine is designed to generate 41kN thrust in vacuum.

Satellite Propulsion:
They are working on electrical propulsion systems like Microwave Electrothermal Thrusters.


Website:
http://bellatrixaerospace.com/
https://www.facebook.com/bellatrixaerospace/

Hope they'll pull it off. Wishing them best of luck :)

PS: I am not affiliated with the company. I just stumbled on their website while browsing stuff about electrical propulsion, and thought of sharing it here since they seem to have some interesting ideas.
« Last Edit: 05/28/2016 01:03 AM by vyoma »

Offline sanman

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Neat - are there any others in India like them?

So Garuda sounds like it could outperform Falcon-1. Couldn't see any pricing on their website, though.

Where does the name Bellatrix come from? It doesn't sound like a play on words, like Antrix - it's either a star in the constellation Orion, or it's that witch lady from the Harry Potter movies.

« Last Edit: 05/28/2016 01:58 AM by sanman »

Offline vyoma

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Not sure about the pricing of launch vehicles. They do have interesting ideas like brushless DC motors driving turbo pumps (like Rocket Lab Electron).

Also, Bellatrix Aerospace is working with ISRO on MPD thruster development (the same is outlined in ISRO 2015-16 annual report about electrical propulsion).

Offline sanman

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Video mentions reusability for both the upper and lower stage of Garuda and for lower stage of Chetak:




So are these just CG rockets, or has anything ever flown yet?

If something had flown, the Indian media would be screaming about it.
« Last Edit: 05/28/2016 02:15 AM by sanman »

Offline sanman

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Satellite propulsion video:


Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Some screen grabs. They are using methalox for both stages. Interesting use of water for their thruster, although they did their testing using Argon.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline sanman

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These are the only 2 news articles I could find which even mention them:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mysuru/Tech-fest-Vyuttha-begins/articleshow/52160779.cms

http://atimes.com/2016/01/india-and-the-global-spring-of-space-commerce/


No offense, but I'm very skeptical - their management look like they're recent college grads - way too young - I don't think they could build and launch a Falcon-1 class of rocket, even if they had great coaching. Doing aerospace isn't like doing software.
« Last Edit: 05/28/2016 03:29 AM by sanman »

Offline vyoma

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Yes, founders are very young and recently graduated from college. They haven't built those rockets yet. But, the director/founder is one of the key members in ISRO's MPD electric propulsion project. I think they know what they're doing. With proper funding in place, I guess they have engineering talent to achieve what they're showcasing in their website.

Offline seshagirib

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The youth of the team is not necessarily a disadvantage:

Take a look at some aspects of NASA during its heydays.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a4288/4318625/

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"There is a photograph that shows splashdown inside the control room," says H. David Reed, a flight dynamics officer during Apollo 11. "There's a guy standing by the console with a huge piece of paper. That's me. I got the signatures of everybody in that room and in the back room. Every time I did that I would ask them their age. Well, I sat down and ran it out. The average age the night we had splashdown was 28." When Space Shuttle Atlantis left Earth on May 11, 2009, the average NASA civil servant's age was 47.

-I boldfaced the text for highlighting


Offline Ohsin

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And according to ISRO chairman a milestone based mechanism might be put up that will enable them to contract out whole problems to anyone who is interested in providing solution for. It would have a substantial purse and time frame and might support startups such as this and incentivize innovation. Might be comparable to NASA's SBIR.

The space policy roadblock needs to clear up as well. In the meantime it would be great to give these folks exposure. Indian media can help here or just spread the word through social media.

ISRO would be keen in assuming role of mentor.. It has a lot to gain from this. Some students sat makers of past are ambitious entrepreneurs now but policy paralysis will cost everyone.
« Last Edit: 05/28/2016 05:45 AM by Ohsin »
"Well, three cheers to Sharma, but our real baby is INSAT."

Offline sanman

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Remember, when it comes to being able to launch for US customers, the US govt will be keen to to look for any sign of a foreign launch provider receiving any kind of state subsidy that gives them unfair advantage over competing US launch providers. Because they know India's angling for that space, they've given ISRO a lot of scrutiny on this. Developed countries want to protect their fragile launch services sector, and the smaller scale ones who feel the most vulnerable tend to be more vocal.

That being said, I think the current govt in New Delhi is pretty enthused about space in general, and would also be naturally disposed towards developing the private sector. ISRO has a natural mentorship culture which could serve private partners well, and the current political climate would enhance the odds of success. Even crowd-funding could help fund a small initial launch. If these guys can get the seed capital to build a rocket and get something like an SBIR, or even get a real paying customer, then I guess they should go for it. Privatization is the big new thing, and if even one private launch provider becomes successful, you can bet that it will spawn multiple imitators.

And of course, as Abdul Kalam would probably tell us, they'll need to pursue an iterative improvement path, like the leading New Space companies are doing, to move from humble beginnings to bigger and better things.
« Last Edit: 05/28/2016 06:43 AM by sanman »

Offline rocx

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I'm pretty sure they won't realise everything they promise, especially second stage reusability. But if they only do some of the things they mention there, good times are ahead.
Any day with a rocket landing is a fantastic day.

Offline sanman

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I just noticed the pricing on the site -   $5.4M for Garuda and $2M for Chetak

http://bellatrixaerospace.com/garuda.html
http://bellatrixaerospace.com/chetak.html

I wonder if those prices are representative of launch costs, or the cost of building each vehicle?

Incidentally, it says in Wikipedia that the tap-off thing is used by Blue Origin's BE-3, which is hydrolox:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combustion_tap-off_cycle

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Blue Origin, with their New Shepard launch vehicle, has successfully flight-tested the BE-3 engine using a tap-off cycle. According to Blue Origin, the cycle is particularly suited to human spaceflight due to its simplicity, with only one combustion chamber and a less stressful engine shutdown process. However, engine startup is more complicated, and due to its nature of feeding gases from the main combustion chamber into the turbopumps, the turbine must be built to withstand higher-than-normal temperatures.[3]


I wonder how methalox compares to hydrolox under this type of combustion cycle?
« Last Edit: 06/23/2016 01:05 PM by sanman »

Offline sanman

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Noticed a recent update on their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/bellatrixaerospace/

Quote
Rohan Hasabnis
Hey, I just wanted to ask if ISRO is going to use your electronic propulsion for satellite ?
Also, when are you going to test your launch vehicles ?
Please give us some updates.
Like · Reply · December 25, 2016 at 12:37pm

Bellatrix Aerospace
We are working with ISRO. 2 more years to get the system space qualified. Prior to that, we are looking out for other small satellite developers to host our nano thruster as an experimental payload.

As for as Chetak launcher is concerned, it's still in preliminary design phase and we're running simulations on its booster engine.

Thanks
Like · Reply · 1 · December 25, 2016 at 9:22pm

Offline sanman

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Some more news about Bellatrix - they're going into defense contracting - presumably it'll get them money faster:

http://www.thehindu.com/business/defence-firm-bellatrix-eyes-funding/article18516138.ece

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defence company working in the area of satellite propulsion systems, is in the process of raising $2 million, said a company official.

“We are a boot-strapped company. We are expecting to raise $2 million within three months and have initiated talks with private equity and venture capital firms. The fund will be used for research and development and product development. It will last us 18-24 months,” said M.R. Gopinath, chief financial officer, Bellatrix Aerospace.

Well, hopefully they'll figure out a way to pursue their space dreams.




Offline sanman

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Here's another article on Bellatrix Aerospace:

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Space No Bar

India’s young space entrepreneurs are charting new paths in the sector



The offices of Bellatrix Aerospace in Bengaluru may seem unassuming, especially when you are told that six young engineers here developed a water-powered, electric propulsion system for satellites. Indian Space Research Organisation has given the company a developmental order for this system. Bellatrix is also working with Hindusthan Institute of Technology, Coimbatore, to develop a micro-satellite that will be in orbit in the near future.

CEO Rohan Ganapathy, 25, says it all began the day he met Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, in the US in 2011: “I was still in college in Coimbatore, when I got an opportunity to attend a seminar organised by NASA. Aldrin told me that that there is huge scope in space exploration and technology, as a large part of space is still unexplored. Though I was always interested in space sciences, that day fixed my goal. I knew I had to do something unique in this field.”

Ganapathy says his second wave of inspiration also came from the US. When private firm SpaceX built its own rockets, he felt it could be done in India, too. “I knew that space projects are long term, require immense dedication, patience and, more than anything else, huge funds,” he said. Among his earliest mentors he counts Sajjan Jindal, chairman, JSW Group, Dr P.S. Goel, former director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bengaluru, and Dr Ugur Guven, a renowned aerospace and nuclear engineer.


...


Full article can be read here:


http://www.theweek.in/theweek/business/indias-young-space-entrepreneurs.html
« Last Edit: 06/23/2017 09:06 PM by sanman »

Offline vyoma

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This Bengaluru startup has developed a satellite propulsion technology that can make space missions cheaper

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Among this new crop of startups is Bellatrix Aerospace, which is building new-age satellite propulsion systems and launch vehicles. It has patented an electric propulsion system — the Microwave Electro-thermal Thruster (MET) — which it claims is more efficient than traditional chemical thrusters as it provides a higher ‘mileage’ and lasts longer.

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“Predominantly, there are two kinds of electrical thrusters that have been traditionally researched and used — the gridded ion thruster and the Hall Effect thruster,” says Ganapathy.

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Bellatrix has gone a different way with its thruster. “We have been working on a different kind of thruster called the Microwave Electro-thermal Thruster (MET), which is much more efficient than other electrical thrusters,” explains Ganapathy, about the novel satellite propulsion design. “The thrust generated by electric thrusters is very low, as little as pulling two sheets of paper. But since there is no friction in space, this is enough to move the satellite,” he adds.

In addition, MET is designed to be a zero-erosion thruster, which gives it a longer lifespan. “Electric thrusters are usually prone to erosion. Every time they are fired, a small portion of the metal gets eroded. Our thruster does not erode, allowing it to last longer,” says Ganapathy.

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Apart from the MET, the team is also working on other types of thrusters like the Hall Effect thruster, a nano-thruster for nano-satellites, and a green monopropellant thruster, a chemical propulsion system that is environmentally friendly.

Offline PonRam

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They will go places with their satellite propulsion technology.

But to put launch vehicles and to also quote a price is too premature. May be in the very very long run, it may work. They need to have the facilities and infrastructure in a low cost place. That rules out renting facilities from outside india. Don't know whether they can rent infra and facilities from ISRO, given that ISRO is already tied up in its own agenda.

Offline sanman

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They need to build a rocket before worrying too much about the launch pad. They could probably make use of an ISRO pad if necessary. After all, ISRO has been directed to collaborate with the private sector as much as possible.

They might be better off starting out doing small nanosat launches like RocketLab, etc want to do. Then they can work their way up from there.

Offline sanman

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