Space Coast company Rocket Crafters rebrands to Vaya Space and announces bigger rocket

Rocket Crafters, based out of Cocoa, Florida, has rebranded to Vaya Space following a difficult year in 2020 and has new plans moving forward. Their new rocket is called Dauntless and is expected to be capable of launching 1000kg (2,200lbs) to Low Earth Orbit and 610kg (1,340lbs) to Sun Synchronous Orbit with the first launch expected in 2023. This launch vehicle is different than most because it uses a hybrid solid rocket motor rather than liquid propellants for thrust.

What was Rocket Crafters?

Rocket Crafters was a small team working on developing their STAR-3D hybrid rocket engine, standing for Safe, Throttleable, Affordable, Reliable, and 3D Printed. The ultimate goal was to design the STAR-3D system for their planned Intrepid vehicle. Very little information was released about the Intrepid vehicle as it was still in early developed.

There was an incident in May 2020 that resulted in damage to their testing facility along with a small brush fire. The cause was determined to be the result of a problematic igniter. The bad igniter then caused subsequent issues that lead to an explosion. The small fire that ensued was likely a part of the igniter that was ejected during the explosion. Rocket Crafters went quiet shortly thereafter.

Rocket Crafters Engine Test Image Credit: Rocket Crafters

Introducing: Vaya Space

It was announced Wednesday that Rocket Crafters would be rebranding to Vaya Space through an article by UPI. This rebranding comes after a rough year, thanks to the Coronavirus, and the incident in May 2020. Along with the rebranding comes around $10 Million in new funding from private investors.

The CEO and Chairman Sid Gutierrez was a NASA astronaut that flew on several shuttle flights and helped lead the development of the shuttle’s avionics and propulsion and was a key role in the recertification of the shuttle after the Challenger disaster. Shortly before one of his flights he was told the phrase “Vaya con Dios” which is Spanish for “Go with God” which is where the new name for the small company comes from.

Gutierrez did note that the rebranding was not a distancing measure, saying

“With the rebranding, we’re not trying to divorce ourselves from the past, but we want to say that we’re now emerging with new products and we’re going to be a player.”

Sid Gutierrez, UPI Interview, 3/30/2021

Vaya Space does not have any launch contracts at the time this was written but does have letters of intent with a few companies. They are planning on a free-flight test of their STAR-3D engine sometime in 2021 from Spaceport America. This test was initially set for 2020 but was delayed due to COVID-19.

Dauntless, Vaya’s new rocket, is set to be roughly comparable to FireFly Aerospace’s Alpha launch vehicle. Vaya is currently working on their Payload User Guide, which will provide a deeper insight into the Dauntless launch vehicle, but there are some basic statistics for the vehicle out now.

Dauntless Launch Vehicle Specs (as of March 31st, 2021)

  • Vehicle Height: 35 Meters (~115 feet)
  • Payload Capacity
    • Low Earth Orbit: 1,000kg (2,200lbs)
    • Sun Synchronous Orbit: 610kg (1,340lbs)
  • Diameters
    • Stage 1: 2.5 Meters (~8 feet)
    • Stage 2: 2.15 Meters (~7 feet)
    • Fairing: 2.15 Meters (~7 feet)

The first launch is expected to be sometime in 2023 from Cape Canaveral.

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