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Rocket engine startup inks lease at Port of Moses Lake

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | January 25, 2021 6:46 PM

MOSES LAKE — A Renton-based space technology startup signed a five-year lease for 2.3 acres at the Port of Moses Lake to test rocket engines.

During an online meeting Monday, the three members of the Port of Moses Lake Commission unanimously approved the deal with Stoke Space Technologies for the land, located in the port’s Westside Employment Center.

Stoke Space Technologies was founded in late 2019 by Andrew Lapsa and Thomas Feldman, both veteran engine designers with Amazon founder and billionaire industrialist Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin project to create a reusable rocket. In 2020, Stoke received a $225,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) award to begin design on reusable upper rocket stages.

SpaceX has demonstrated with its Falcon rocket the first stage main boosters of a rocket can be reused. Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable rocket is being tested, and the company’s New Glenn reusable first stage is being designed.

But the Falcon is still reliant on single-use second stages to boost heavier payloads into orbit.

“Even the best solutions reuse only a portion of the rocket a handful of times, resulting in launch costs of $5,000/kg and higher,” the NSF said in its award to Stoke Space Technologies. “Rockets offering 100% reusability and operating like aircraft reduce cost, availability concerns, and service potential of space launch vehicles.”

“The proposed technology advances reusable space launch vehicles,” the NSF added.

Stoke Space is advertising for positions on the company’s website, including avionics systems engineers, fabricators, lead systems architects, propulsion systems engineer, “manufacturing ninja” with a broad knowledge of “materials and processes that are subject to extreme environments” and a “superhuman” who loves “tackling all elements of a problem, no matter the field or experience level.”

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.