Composites boost UK passenger rocket

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West System, based in the US, has helped develop a parachute deployment system for the Astra-X passenger rocket.

Launch of the rocket, previously called the Nova 2, was delayed from 2020 due to "Covid, Brexit, and regulatory issues", the company said. The rocket had been built by UK space company Starchaser.

The rebuilt parachute deployment system has reportedly been made using 300 individual pieces of woven roving, bonded together with West System materials.

“We’re delighted to be able to sponsor Astra-X,” said Ian Oliver, MD of West System. “This is the longest sponsorship we’ve undertaken and it’s testament to [creator of Starchaser Foundation, Steve Bennett’s] ambition and direction that he’s so close to launching. We’re proud to be able to supply West System epoxy to take people into space. It’s not what it was designed for, but given its innate strength and durability, we are delighted that it’s passed muster and is being used in this ingenious manner.”