Thor Launch Systems

Rapid delivery of payloads into space for a fraction of the cost.

Thor Launch Systems is a ground-based system for orbital (LEO or GEO) and interplanetary deliveries, utilizing electrical rockets and hypersonic, payload carrying gliders. The Thor system is responsive, low-cost, and inherently safe, creating airport-like usability. Thor changes the entirety of the launch paradigm, with dramatically lower cost launch and increased availability.

Enabling the mass commercialization of space by moving beyond chemical rockets.

About the project:

Current space launch systems are extremely expensive, hazardous, and are not suited for responsive use. A key reason lies in the energy limitations of chemical combustion, which necessitate low payload fractions in multi-stage designs. Thor removes this limitation by heating a propellant with electricity. Thor uses a proven high thrust electric rocket and power supply to accelerate vehicles to a desired exit velocity inside an evacuated horizontal tunnel. At exit, the rocket motor and tank are discarded, and a hypersonic payload-carrying glider using a heat shield technology completes the desired mission. Thor achieves airliner-like payload fractions for orbital missions. Thor can achieve orbital launch pricing that approaches the current pricing of time critical air cargo delivery.

Problem

Current space launch methods are prohibitively costly, intermittent and hazardous.

Key Innovation

Utilizing an externally powered, tube-launched electric rocket that leaves its power supply on the ground.

Solution

A novel launch system that breaks from the traditional chemical rocket approach to provide a much lower cost, more responsive, frequent, and safer launch capability.

Status

Coming out of stealth, the Thor system has been validated by external experts, and the team is pulling together a wider partnership team and entering the detailed engineering design stage.

Rapid Delivery

Capable of delivering payloads rapidly into orbit.

Low Cost

>95% cheaper than traditional chemical rocket-based systems.

Responsive

Minutes, not days or months, between launches.

Safer

No explosive propellants are required, and no discarded boost stages.

Cam Hosie: Lead

Cam is a Principal at 8 Rivers, and is an experienced business innovator and entrepreneur. He joined 8 Rivers following practicing as a corporate attorney at a leading global law firm in both developed & emerging markets, with a focus on large infrastructure. At 8 Rivers he has operational, management, strategic & legal responsibilities across the company, including having helped lead commercialization of NET Power & its most recent $140M+ financing. He has a BS in Comp Sci. and a Law degree from Victoria University of Wellington, and a Masters in Law from Duke University.

Miles Palmer: Technology

Dr. Palmer is a co-founder of 8 Rivers and an entrepreneur, innovator, engineer and scientist in a range of fields including hypersonics, aerospace, energy, UAV’s, and communications.  He has bachelors in electrical engineering and in chemistry from MIT and a PhD in chemistry from UCSD. After serving as a flight test engineer and being nominated for astronaut duty in the Air Force, Miles served over twenty years with SAIC. Miles has been a national leader in each of Thor’s component technology areas, and is the lead inventor of the Thor system.

Larry Graviss: Government

Larry had a distinguished 25 year Air Force career, including leading deployment of the GPS constellation, the program that received the 1992 Collier Trophy, and he personally received the Hays Award. Air Force leadership positions included Director of Classified Space programs, Program Director for GPS, and Commander of AEDC. After the Air Force, he was a vice-president at Jacobs Technology, then President of Eagle Engineering. He has a BS and Masters in Engineering from Texas A&M and attended the Defense Systems Management College and National War College.

We are currently finalizing project scoping and team-building, mobilizing to deliver a commercial launch facility by 2020.

The Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation: 2016

Compared to existing technologies, Thor would represent a dramatic step change in launch frequency and cost per launch of payloads to LEO and GEO

Start-Up Space: Rising Investment in Commercial Space Ventures

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