Digital depiction of a Starless IV launch.
|Function||Sub-orbital launch vehicle|
|Manufacturer||Aenopian Aerospace Administration|
|Country of origin||Empire of Aenopia|
|Cost per launch|
|Height||38 cm (15 in)|
|Diameter||3 cm (1.2 in)|
Starless IV[a] is a reusable currently under development designed and manufactured by a consortium of Aenopian Aerospace Administration and Helliwell Systems. Development of the rocket began in early January 2021, with the rocket being formally unveiled to the public on 21 January 2021. Its name is derived from the King Crimson 1974 album of the same name, and the name of the Starless program as a whole. The Starless IV, as part of the Starless launch family, is regarded as one of two flagship projects of the Aenopian Aerospace Administration alongside the Helliwell Awyren 5. Development of the Starless IV project is also supported by the International Aerospace Community.
Starless IV will utilise concepts developed for the Nova project, such as universal motor capability in order to exchange different motors based on individual launch needs. Flights will take place at New Llandudno Spaceport. Two launches are confirmed to take place in 2021, "Test for Echo" and "Take Two", with a further 3 planned.[b] The first 2 flights will be test flights in order to verify development simulations and test the vehicle in flight.
The Starless IV will consist of one stage. The first stage is intended to be powered by a D12-7 solid rocket motor produced by Estes Industries, producing 29.7N of thrust.
The Aenopian Aerospace Administration, the primary body behind the development of the Starless IV, was first founded by Logan Ross on 5 July 2019 with the intention of setting up a space and aeronautics research corporation for Aenopia. The first rocket was launched on the same day under the Nova I series of rockets, regarded as the predecessor to the Starless family of rockets and the Starless IV in particular, designated as Nova I-001. The launch was, however, a failure following the rocket blowing up after takeoff. During a post-incident investigation, it was announced that the fault was caused by the low quality tinfoil bursting from the high pressure built up inside (something which is intended with the design of rocket).
Following inactivity within the agency, it was decided following the revitalisation of Awyren 5 Project to design an Experimental High Speed Rocket-Aircraft for scientific purposes. It was also announced that Nova I would be retired in December 2019 with only 2 completed launches under its name.
Development of the Starless IV, named after the song “Starless and Bible Black” by English progressive rock band King Crimson, began in mid-January 2021 as part of efforts to revitalise the struggling AAA. By cancelling the inactive Nova and E-11a projects and replacing them with a singular project, the AAA would have a new national project to work on from scratch. During the period of inactivity within the AAA, other micronational space agencies such as those of the Commonwealth of Essexia and Republic of Yu-Xia continued to develop their programs, the Epstein and Neptune rockets respectively. As a result of this, the Aenopian space industry fell behind. Influenced by rival projects, the Aenopian Aerospace Administration officially unveiled the Starless IV on 21 January 2021. Production is scheduled to begin at an undetermined date, presumably mid-2021.
The Starless IV is a single-stage, solid-propellant light-lift launch vehicle. The first stage will be equipped with a sole D12-7 solid rocket motor produced by Estes Industries, producing 29.7N of thrust at liftoff. The rocket measures a total of 38cm (15in) from base to nose and measures 3cm (1.2in) wide excluding the fins. Without the payload the Starless IV weighs 104 g (3.7 oz), whilst its dry mass (excluding the motor) totals 58 g (2.0 oz). The Starless IV has a maximum lift capacity of approximately 116 g (4.1 oz) when fully loaded including the motor.
The Starless IV will fitted with 4 fins to provide stability during flight, made out of 1mm balsa wood to reduce weight and increase velocity and apogee.
Starless IV is designed to carry a payload of approximately 30 g (1.1 oz) to an apogee of 550 m (1,800 ft), making it suitable for light instruments and test flights. Due partially to its reusable and simplistic design, the Starless IV can conduct numerous flights in a launch period with only a motor change required. This makes it suitable for rigorous testing instruments and technologies numerous times in a short period.
Most flights of the Starless IV will carry a small camera measuring 23 mm (0.91 in) long and a altimeter. Flight 1 ("Test for Echo") will carry a metal small lapel pin badge cast in the shape of the late Apollo EMU space suit, an SD card and an enamel badge featuring an Atlantic puffin - the national animal of Aenopia.
List of missions
As of 24 January 2021 there are 2 confirmed Starless IV flights, with a further 3 flights planned. Out of the two planned flights, both will be test flights. These are in order of launch...
|Mission||Patch||Capsule No.||Launch date (UTC)||Remarks||Outcome|
|"Test for Echo"||ST401||Q2||First Starless IV mission, test flight to confirm simulations.||Planned|
|"Take Two"||ST401[c]||TBC||Second Starless IV mission, test flight to confirm simulations.||Planned|
|"And Then There Were Three"||TBC||TBC||Third Starless IV mission, flight still to be confirmed.||Planned|
|"Fly by Night"||TBC||TBC||Fourth Starless IV mission, flight still to be confirmed.||Planned|
- IV is the roman numeral of four, and is pronounced as such.
- Although not formally confirmed, flight 3 dubbed "Fly by Night" has been mooted.
- Subject to outcome of "Test for Echo" flight.
- Essexian Post. "Essexia, Aenopia form IAC for space programs". Archived from the original on 21 January 2021.
- International Aerospace Community. "Aenopian Navy awards contract for 2 wooden destroyers; delivery date TBC 2020s". Archived from the original on 25 January 2021.
- Aenopian Hour. "Aenopia's first rocket launch goes off with bang". Archived from the original on 24 January 2021.
- Aenopian Hour. "Funding cut for Aenopia High-Speed; Future of High-Speed line uncertain". Archived from the original on 28 March 2021.
- Xijing morning post. "Failed Launch of Yu-Xian Rocket Neptune II, Second Test Flight Scheduled for 2021". Archived from the original on 25 January 2021.
- Aenopian Hour. "AAA unveils "Starless IV" rocket; set to launch in 2021". Archived from the original on 21 January 2021.
- International Aerospace Community. "AAA unveils "Starless IV" rocket; set to launch in 2021". Archived from the original on 21 January 2021.