Brunswick aerospace company bluShift could launch rocket at Loring by month’s end

3 years ago

LIMESTONE, Maine — bluShift Aerospace of Brunswick may be able to launch the Stardust 1.0 rocket at the Loring Commerce Centre before the end of the month, but the company has not confirmed any specific dates as of Jan. 22.

The rocket is 20 feet tall, 14 inches in diameter, about 650 pounds, and cost close to $1 million to build. And when it takes off, it will make history as the world’s first launch of a rocket powered by a bio-derived fuel.

The crew originally came to Limestone on Jan. 15, but cloud cover blocked them from getting the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Administration. As they were packing up for the day, members of the crew indicated that they were looking at Jan. 20 as a possibility. Now, the launch will be moved ahead by at least one more week. 


Seth Lockman, communications director at bluShift Aerospace, said Friday that after a meeting with the engineers, they are looking at late next week, possibly as soon as Jan. 28, as a tentative date for the launch.

He reiterated that this outlook is only tentative, and that the company has not yet made any formal announcements regarding a new launch date. If the forecast proves to be clear, the crew may have a larger window to launch, with the possibility of rescheduling to Friday, Jan. 29, if the clouds are clear.

In order to launch, Lockman said the crew needs 48 hours with cloud cover that is less than 50 percent of the flight ceiling, or 5,200 feet above sea level. The winds also need to be calm, and the team needs between three and four days of advance notice in order to have time to travel from Brunswick to prepare and reintegrate the rocket and restage the launch tower.

And while the delays have been frustrating, Lockman said it’s all part of the process. 

“Someone sent us an email recently saying ‘Don’t worry. I’ve seen a rocket launch get scrubbed 14 times because of the weather,” Lockman said, adding that Limestone does not have any unique issues that other launch sites don’t have. 

Another silver lining, Lockman said, is that bluShift is hopefully paving the way for other companies looking to conduct launches at the former Loring Air Force Base, whether they plan on doing vertical launches like the Stardust 1.0 or horizontal launches off an aircraft.

“We want to thank everybody for staying positive,” he said. “Everybody wants to know when we’ll go to launch. I want to launch too, but these delays are part of it. Everybody has been super understanding.”