Sea launch sequence
The rocket’s fuelling will start with three days in advance and the launch team will board the ship 24 hours before the launch, using the water-based propellant for the first and second stage and the hydrogen peroxide 98% and kerosene for the third stage.
After the fuelling complete, two tugs will start towing the EcoRocket Heavy from the pier, with 24 hours before the launch, heading to the launch point located at 30 nautical miles off the coast. After reaching that point, the tugs will move to a distance of 10 nautical miles, awaiting for the post-launch recovery procedure.
Vehicle ascent under first and second stages green propulsion
The launch will be initiated by opening the tanks pressurisation valves, which will break the burst disks starting the first stage’s main engines.
The rocket starts ascending, with the RCS system keeping the vertical trajectory.
The first stage engine will run for 32 s, the vehicle reaching 7,000 m and a speed of 1,750 km/h.
At 7,000 m the second stage will be released and continue ascending for 50 s to an altitude of 43,000 m and a speed of 3,800 km/h.
Vehicle final acceleration under third stage propulsion
The third stage will separate from the second stage at 60 km, and it will start performing a pitch and yaw manoeuvre alignment for orbit injection, using the onboard RCSs.
The third stage will then start its engines, which will run for a total of 185 s, increasing the vehicle’s speed to 28,500 km/h and an altitude of 160 km.
The third stage’s engine is restartable as many times as desired, as it uses self-igniting propellants.
Once in LEO, the AMi Spaceship will exit from the third stage and prepare for solar panels deployment. The third stage will reenter the atmosphere and burn or it will be used as a structure for the orbital depot.
First and second stages splashdown for recovery
The first two stages have a strictly vertical trajectory, which is a unique flight profile compared with all other orbital vehicles that are bending their trajectory straight from the start.
The EcoRocket Heavy’s first stage will splash down in the sea virtually in the same point from where it took-off.
After the first and second stages complete their flight, they will descend under their drogue parachutes and using the allocated propulsion modules for a short 6 seconds duration brake before splashing-down in the sea from where they will be towed by the two tugs to the harbour.The stages will then be inspected and prepared for their next flight.
AMi Spacecraft is heading to the asteroid
Once in circular LEO, at an altitude of 160 km, the AMi spaceship will fire its engine and start elevating its orbit in spiral flight to a maximum altitude of around 500,000 km, passing the Moon’s orbit. The engine will run continuously for around 34 days.
At the end of this manoeuvre the AMi Spaceship will get a potential energy equivalent with a Δv of 3.5 km/s and the escape conditions would have been met.
Considering an interception point at 7 million km distance), the AMi Spaceship will switch to intercept mode firing its engine for another 7 days to establish the target intercept trajectory and gain a Δv of 1.4 km/s. The AMi Spaceship will fly inertially to the asteroid for around 58 days.
AMi Spacecraft arrives at the asteroid
Once in the asteroid proximity, with around 5 days before target reach, the vehicle will change its flight attitude and fire its engine to allow it to brake and fly in formation with the asteroid at a distance of around 10 km.
The vehicle will rotate again with the nose towards the asteroid. After this manoeuvre, the Recoverable Capsule will detach from the AMi Spaceship and fire its Service Module main engine to reach the asteroid.
Once at a distance of around 100 m from the asteroid surface, small RCS manoeuvres will allow the capsule to softly attach itself to the asteroid via six legs present at its top end, and by firing a harpoon to the asteroid.
The Capsule starts mining
An envelope is deployed between the legs to create a protective dome and the mining operation could start.
A drill will be deployed from the top of the capsule and it will scrap the surface. There will be a maximum of 42.4 m3 of excavated material available for processing. Assuming an average density of 5,320 kg/m3 for M type asteroids, there will be 225.6 tons of material available for processing. Assuming a grade of 0.1 kg of platinum/ton of material, there will be 22.5 kg of available platinum/one excavation.
The material is scanned and filtered, separating the precious metals from the sterile.
The Spacecraft returns to Earth
Once the capsule will be fully loaded with ore, it will fire its RCS and return to the main vehicle and attach itself to it in the launch configuration. The now complete AMi spaceship will fire its RCS and position to an attitude and distance away from the asteroid. The main engine will fire and for 6 days will allow the AMi spaceship to gain a Δv of 1.4 km/s and place itself on an Earth return trajectory, flying inertially for 59 days.
The Capsule reenters into the Earth atmosphere
Once in the vicinity of Earth, at 100,000 km the capsule will fire its RCS and detach from the vehicle. The capsule’s service module main engine will be fired in the case of any necessary trajectory adjustment. The capsule will start descending towards Earth after the service module separation.
The total flight time is estimated to 172 days excluding the time allocated to the mining operations, which should be in the range of around two weeks. Therefore, the total mission time should be in the range of 186 days.
The Capsule splashes down in the sea and it is recovered