Image of bluShift CEO, Sascha Deri, at the Stardust 1.0 launch site in Limestone, Maine. Betta Stothart, courtesy of bluShift Aerospace

LIMESTONE — Despite frigid weather and early technical difficulties, Brunswick’s bluShift Aerospace Inc., made history Sunday afternoon when it launched its prototype rocket, Stardust 1.0.

The company became the first in Maine to launch a commercial rocket and the first in the world to launch a rocket using bio-derived fuel.

The rocket was launched at the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone around 3 p.m. It carried three payloads, two commercial and one, free of charge, from Falmouth High School. A payload typically consists of satellites, experiments or other objects that customers pay to launch into orbit.

“The purpose of this particular launch is to be a prototype demonstration model,” bluShift CEO Sascha Deri said. While many companies are in the stage of developing rockets, Sunday’s demonstration was primarily aimed to show investors bluShift’s capability to actually launch their rocket, he said.

Stardust 1.0 is roughly 20 feet tall and 14 inches in diameter.

“It will approximately be able to carry up to 30 kilograms (66 pounds), this particular rocket is not made for launching more than 18 kilograms (40 pounds),” Deri said.

The rocket and payloads returned to the ground under a parachute shortly after launch and were retrieved by a team of snowmobilers. The rocket is intended to be reusable and environmentally friendly.

While the components of the biofuel remain a company secret, Deri said it is solid, non-toxic and carbon neutral. “I can tell you this much, I discovered it with a friend of mine on my brothers farm here in Maine,” he said.

The company describes its business model as the Uber of space, where they will target a specific customer who wishes to send their payload into a particular orbit.

“We are targeting people that want to go to a specific orbit, they want to have control of their launches, they want to be the primary payload even though their payload is very small,” Deri said.

Deri said bluShift plans on “taking advantage of the fact that Maine has a southern-facing coastline that allows us to easily access polar orbit, or launch into polar orbit, directly due south of the oceans.”

The launch Sunday comes after a planned launch on Jan. 15 was called off due to weather.

“It turns out launching rockets is complicated, apparently it’s rocket science,” Deri said.

“We did learn a lot from that failed launch, we learned, first and foremost, that you can’t rely upon weather websites, you really need to use a professional meteorologist.”

The second time around, bluShift worked with meteorologist Russ Murley, to confirm weather conditions for Sunday.

“Coordinating all of these things is an incredible dance, but really a dance we want to do, because we really want this event to be an inspiration to the whole state of Maine, and really to be a call out to beyond our borders, beyond the state of Maine to let people know that Maine is open for aerospace,” Deri said.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.