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IndustryAerospace and space tourism
Founded1999; 22 years ago (1999)
Key people
Dumitru Popescu

Romanian Cosmonautics and Aeronautics Association (Romanian: Asociația Română pentru Cosmonautică și Aeronautică), also known as ARCAspace, is an aerospace company based in Râmnicu Vâlcea, Romania.[1] It builds rockets, high-altitude balloons, and unmanned aerial vehicles. It was founded in 1999 as a non-governmental organization in Romania by the Romanian engineer Dumitru Popescu and other rocket and aeronautics enthusiasts. Since then, ARCA has launched two stratospheric rockets, four large scale stratospheric balloons including a cluster balloon and was awarded two governmental contracts with the Romanian government and one contract with the European Space Agency. ARCASpace is currently developing a three-stage, semi-reusable steam-powered rocket called EcoRocket.


1999–2004: Demonstrator rocket family[edit]

Orizont suborbital vehicle

ARCA was established as Romanian Cosmonautics and Aeronautics Association (Romanian: Asociația Română pentru Cosmonautică și Aeronautică), a non-governmental organization in 1999 by a group of rocket and aeronautics enthusiasts. Their goal was to construct and launch space rockets. After experimenting with designs for different fuels and rocket engine types, including solid fuel rockets, they decided to use fiberglass for engine and tank construction and hydrogen peroxide as fuel. Their first vehicle was named Demonstrator and was a 10 metres (33 ft) long, unguided, self-stabilized rocket. It never flew, instead it was used in various public exhibitions to attract funds and sponsorships.[2] Their second rocket, Demonstrator 2, was constructed in 2003. For this, ARCA created their first rocket engine testing installation where they tested their hydrogen peroxide engine. After the tests were successful, they constructed Demonstrator 2B which was an improved version of their previous rocket. It had a 4.5 m (15 ft) length and 0.77 m (2 ft 6 in) diameter and used an 18 m (59 ft) high launch pad.[3]

In 2003 ARCA also signed up for the Ansari X Prize international competition and started design for the Orizont suborbital vehicle capable of carrying a crew of two up to an altitude of 100 km (62 mi). Orizont was to be ARCA's competing vehicle for the Ansari X Prize. It was designed to use a disposable jet engine up to an altitude of 15 km (9.3 mi) and then ignite its main hydrogen peroxide rocket engine in order to propel it to the 100 km (62 mi) altitude.

On September 9, 2004 ARCA successfully launched the Demonstrator 2B rocket from Cape Midia Air Force Base. Because of powerful wind gusts up to 60 km/h (37 mph), they were forced to use only 20 percent of the intended fuel quantity in order to keep with the allocated safety zone by the Air Force. The altitude reached was 1,200 m (3,900 ft). 90 journalists from Romania, Germany, and Austria were present at the launch.[4] After the launch, ARCA started construction of the Orizont spaceplane and completed the aircraft structure by 2005.[5]

2005–2010: Stabilo and Helen rockets[edit]

Artist rendition of the Stabilo rocket

ARCA organized a public presentation of their Orizont spaceplane in front of the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest. Because of financial problems encountered with the construction of Orizont, ARCA decided to suspend its development and instead design a new, much smaller rocket called Stabilo. It was designed to be launched from a stratospheric solar balloon and carry one person into space.[6] Design and construction of large scale polyethylene balloons started and on December 2, 2006 at Onesti, Bacau, the crew capsule of Stabilo rocket was lifted to an altitude of 14,700 m. The capsule was safely recovered that evening. The event was transmitted live on several Romanian TV stations.[7]

On 27 September 2007 the entire Stabilo rocket (crew capsule + rocket booster) was lifted to an altitude of 12,000 m using the largest solar balloon constructed until that date. The mission was launched from Cape Midia Air Force Base, and the rocket was recovered from the Black Sea surface by Romanian Navy divers. At this moment ARCA proved its ability to conduct large scale operations and to coordinate military institutions like the Romanian Navy and the Romanian Air Force.[8]

In 2007 ARCA won two governmental contracts with the Research Ministry for a suborbital rocket and a solar balloon. The Romanian Space Agency, the University of Bucharest and other Romanian institutions were subcontractors to ARCA for these projects.

In early 2008 ARCA joined the Google Lunar X Prize competition and designed the Haas orbital launcher.[9] Their lunar rover was named European Lunar Lander and used a monopropellant rocket engine for landing and hovering. Haas was a three-stage orbital rocket powered by hybrid engines using a bitumen-based fuel and hydrogen peroxide as oxidizer. It was supposed to be launched from 18,000 m carried by the largest solar balloon ever constructed, having a volume of 2 million cubic meters.[10] For the Haas rocket, they created a three-stage much smaller demonstrator called Helen that was intended to test technologies and operation. The Helen rocket was intentionally not aerodynamically stabilized, being intended to use a technique based on the pendulum rocket fallacy.[11] The Romanian bank BRD – Groupe Société Générale awarded ARCA a 300,000 euro sponsorship for their activities. Romanian cosmonaut Dumitru Prunariu highly praised ARCA's achievements and noted their ability to efficiently utilize private funds.[12] In 2009 ARCA performed a series of engine tests using the Stabilo rocket engine in order to validate the design for the Helen rocket.

The first attempt to launch the Helen rocket took place on November 14, 2009. Romanian Naval Forces participated with the NSSL 281 Constanta ship, the Venus divers ship, the Fulgerul fast boat and two other fast craft boats. For this mission, ARCA constructed a massive 150,000 cubic meter solar balloon, approximately five times as large as their previous balloon. After the balloon began inflating, the mission crew discovered that the balloon inflation arms were wrapped around the lower part of the balloon. Inflation was halted and the crew attempted to unwrap the arms. Three hours later the arms were repositioned and inflation was ready to resume but the sun was already nearing the horizon, and heating the solar balloon was no longer possible. The decision was made to cancel the mission.[13]

ARCA decided to redesign the Helen rocket to use two stages and a helium balloon instead. They named the rocket Helen 2. On April 27, 2010 they performed an avionics test for the European Lunar Lander payload to be lifted by the Helen 2 rocket, using a hot air balloon that lifted three ARCA members to 5,200 m altitude. On August 4, 2010 a new attempt to launch the rocket was made, but a construction error in the helium balloon caused it to rupture and the mission was aborted.[14] A new helium balloon was manufactured designed to carry only the second stage of Helen 2 rocket. On October 1, 2010 the rocket performed a successful flight to an altitude of 38,700 m reaching a maximum velocity of 2320 km/h. Upon atmospheric reentry the rocket capsule parachute failed to deploy and the capsule was lost at sea, but the data was transmitted to the mission control center on the 281 Constanta ship and to the Romanian Air Traffic Services Administration.[15]

2011–2013: IAR-111 aircraft, Executor engine and Haas rocket family[edit]

Executor rocket engine

After the difficulties encountered with the stratospheric balloons, ARCA decided to change their approach to orbital launch for the Google Lunar X Prize. They designed a supersonic rocket plane powered by a liquid-fueled rocket engine using kerosene as fuel and liquid oxygen as oxidizer.[16] The aircraft, initially named E-111, was renamed IAR-111 after ARCA received permission from IAR S.A. Brasov to use the traditional IAR designation for military and civilian aircraft constructed since 1925. The aircraft was intended to fly to an altitude of 17.000 m and launch a heavily modified version of the Haas rocket, named Haas 2. Haas 2 was an air-launched three stage orbital rocket intended to place a 200 kg payload into orbit. Work on the plane structure began in late 2010.

By 2011 all the fiberglass molds for the aircraft were finished and one third of the aircraft structure was completed. The crew capsule escape system was tested on September 26, 2011 when a Mil Mi-17 helicopter belonging to the Special Aviation Unit dropped the capsule from an altitude of 700 m over the Black Sea. The emergency parachute deployed successfully and the capsule was recovered from the sea surface by the Romanian Coast Guard.

In 2012 ARCA decided to focus on the construction of the rocket engine of the IAR-111 aircraft. The engine, named Executor, is made of composite materials, has a thrust of 24 tons force (52,000 lbf) and is turbopump fueled. It uses ablative cooling for the main chamber and nozzle where the outer layers of the composite material vaporize in contact with the high temperature exhaust mixture and prevent overheating. ARCA also presented a long-term space program, until 2025, that besides IAR-111 envisioned a small scale orbital rocket (Haas 2C), a suborbital manned rocket (Haas 2B) and a medium scale manned orbital rocket (Super Haas).[17] In March 2012, ARCA tested an extremely lightweight composite materials kerosene tank that is intended to be used for the Haas 2C rocket.[18]

After criticism from the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) intensified in printed media and television, ARCA decided to send a public letter to the Romanian Prime Minister to intervene in this matter. ARCA mentioned that the Romanian Space Agency is in no position to criticize after the failure of their cubesat Goliat recently launched with a Vega rocket. Furthermore, ARCA was privately funded compared with ROSA that uses public funding.[19]

Haas 2C rocket in Victoria Square, Bucharest

In June 2012 ARCA presented their Haas 2C rocket in Victoria Square in Bucharest, in front of the Romanian Government palace.[20] The same year ARCA won a $1,200,000 contract with the European Space Agency to participate in the ExoMars program. Named the High Altitude Drop Test, the contract consisted of a series of stratospheric balloon drop tests to verify the structural integrity of the EDM parachutes used in Martian atmospheric deceleration.[21]

On September 16, 2013 ARCA performed the first successful flight in the ExoMars program, lifting three pressurised avionics containers over the Black Sea to an altitude of 24,400 m.[22] In November, the concrete test stand for the Executor engine was completed.

2014–present: AirStrato and ARCA Space Corporation[edit]

On February 10 ARCA presented a high altitude unmanned aerial vehicle, named AirStrato, that was meant to replace stratospheric balloon usage for equipment testing and other near space missions. It was intended to be solar powered for extended endurance, was 7 m in length and had a 16 m wingspan with a takeoff weight of 230 kg. The aircraft first flew on February 28. ARCA announced that if the development was successful they would consider developing a commercial version available for sale to customers.[23]

On October 17, 2014, ARCA announced that it had transferred its headquarters to the United States to Las Cruces, New Mexico. In a press release they announced that in Romania activities related to software and rocket engine development will continue. They also announced that Air Strato UAV would be available for purchase to customers and that Las Cruces will also serve as a production center for the aircraft.[24] On November 25 they released a website for the UAV revealing two models available for purchase, AirStrato Explorer that could reach altitudes up to 18,000 m with 20 hours endurance and AirStrato Pioneer that would be limited to 8000 m and 12 hours endurance.

On July 13, 2015 ARCA announced the beginning of activities in New Mexico, including production and flight tests of AirStrato UAS and Haas rockets, investing US$1.2 million.[25]

In November of 2017, CEO Dimitru Popescu was arrested and charged with 12 counts of fraud. [26] As a result, he left the country and reestablished operations in Romania. The charges were later dropped.[27]

In early 2019, ARCA announced the development of the steam-powered Launch Assist System and began testing the aerospike engine.[28]

In 2020, tests of the steam-powered aerospike continued and ARCA announced a new launch vehicle, the EcoRocket, derived from the LAS technology.


Popescu faced 13 counts of fraud, five counts of embezzlement, and one count of forgery, according to an online arrest report. Popescu was arrested in Jonesboro, Georgia on Nov. 8 and then extradited to Dona Ana County, New Mexico. He was released on bail on November 28, 2017 and was awaiting trial.[29][30]

In mid-May 2018, criminal charges were dismissed by a grand jury, after 14 hours of testimony and questioning.[31]

According to Popescu, it is not yet clear whether ARCA will remain in the USA or New Mexico.


Haas rocket family[edit]

The Haas rocket family was a series of rockets of various sizes and configurations intended to replace the initial Haas balloon launched rocket. After the difficulties encountered with balloon operation in Mission 3 and Mission 4, ARCA decided to redesign the rocket to be ground launched. Although heavier and more expensive, ground launched rockets are more reliable, easier to operate and can carry heavier payloads into orbit.

Haas 2B[edit]

Haas 2B was a single stage suborbital rocket intended for space tourism. It was designed to transport a crew capsule and service module into a suborbital trajectory. The crew capsule and service module would have been the same as the ones used for the larger multi-stage Super Haas orbital rocket.[32] At the NASA DC-X conference in Alamogordo, New Mexico in August 2013 ARCA presented an updated version of the Haas 2B rocket with a capsule capable of carrying a crew of five into space. There were discussions with Spaceport America representatives to operate the Haas 2B rocket from New Mexico.[33]

Haas 2C[edit]

Haas 2C was an orbital rocket intended for commercial payload launches. There were two planned variants of the rocket, a single stage to orbit variant capable of placing a 50 kg (110 lb) payload into orbit and a two-stage variant capable of lifting a 400 kg (880 lb) payload into orbit. After testing the extremely lightweight composite tank, ARCA designed a single stage 18 m (59 ft 1 in) long rocket with a total weight of 510 kg (1,120 lb), having a thrust-to-weight ratio of 26:1 and a 50 kg (110 lb) payload.[18] The company displayed the rocket in Victoria Square in Bucharest, in front of the Romanian Government building.[20] The second stage version will be powered by the Executor engine for the lower stage, and the upper stage will use a smaller engine adapted for vacuum, named Venator.[34][35]

Haas 2CA[edit]

Haas 2CA was a rocket designed to be able to launch 100 kg into a low-Earth orbit, at a price of US$1 million per launch. The first flight was intended to launch from Wallops Flight Facility in 2018. The rocket was designed as a Single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) and featured an Aerospike engine,[36] producing 50,500 pounds-force (225 kN) of thrust at sea level and 73,800 pounds-force (328 kN) of thrust in vacuum.[37]

IAR-111 rocket plane[edit]

Romanian Aeronautical Industry Brașov (Romanian: Industria Aeronautica Romana Brașov), also known as IAR-111, was a sea-launched suborbital rocket plane. It used the same Executor engine as Haas 2B and 2C rockets. It was to have a length of 24 m (78 ft 9 in), a wingspan of 12 m (39 ft 4 in) and a take-off mass of 19 tonnes (42,000 lb). It can carry a crew of two, a pilot and passenger. The flight sequence consists of take-off from sea surface, horizontal flight at subsonic speed, followed by a rapid climb to an altitude of 16,000 m (52,000 ft) in approximately two minutes. As a space tourism development platform, it could reach Mach 2.6 (3,185.1 km/h; 1,979.1 mph) at 30,000 m (98,000 ft). After fuel depletion, IAR-111 was to descend in gliding flight and land on the sea surface. In case of emergency, the crew capsule was to be detachable and equipped with two rocket-propelled parachutes.[38]

The IAR-111 capsule was flight tested during Mission 6. The mission took place in cooperation with the Special Aviation Unit and the Coast Guard, belonging to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration.

AirStrato unmanned aerial vehicle[edit]

Air Strato electrical powered UAV

AirStrato was an electric powered medium-sized unmanned aerial vehicle that was being developed by ARCA. There were two variants planned, the AirStrato Explorer with a target flight ceiling of 18,000 m and AirStrato Pioneer with a target flight ceiling of 8000 m. It was supposed to carry a 45 kg payload consisting of surveillance equipment, scientific instruments, or additional battery pods for extended autonomy.[39] The first prototype's maiden flight took place on February 28, 2014. It was equipped with fixed landing gear. Two more prototypes were constructed that lacked landing gear. Instead, ARCA opted for a pneumatic catapult as a launcher and landing skids and a recovery parachute for landing. Both prototypes only performed take-off and landing testing and short low altitude flights.

ESA Drop Test Vehicle[edit]

ARCA has constructed a drop test vehicle for the European Space Agency intended to test the atmospheric deceleration parachutes for the ExoMars EDM lander module. It has the same weight and parachute deployment systems present on the ESA module. The DTV is intended to be lifted to an altitude of 24 km by a stratospheric helium balloon. From that height, it will fall freely reaching a dynamic pressure similar to that encountered by the ExoMars EDM at entry into the Mars atmosphere. At that dynamic pressure the parachute will deploy and the module will land on the Black Sea surface and will be recovered by the Romanian Naval Forces.


EcoRocket is a partially-reusable three stage orbital launch vehicle currently under development. The EcoRocket is slated to launch in 2021 to compete in the European Commission's ten-million Euro prize[40] to develop a cost-effective small satellite launch vehicle. The vehicle's reusable first stage will use a battery-powered steam rocket to propel a small second stage to an altitude of 8 kilometers. The second stage, fueled by RP-1 and high test peroxide will then propel a payload of up to 10 kilograms into orbit. The rocket takes its name from the supposed ecological benefits of not burning as much kerosene (despite using kerosene to achieve most of orbital velocity). The EcoRocket also has a planned "heavy" variant, which would include scaled-up stages, a reusable second stage, and a payload of 60 tons to LEO.[41] The EcoRocket will launch partially submerged in the Black Sea, in a similar manner to the Sea Dragon.[42]

Rocket engines[edit]

Executor rocket engine.


The Executor is a liquid-fueled rocket engine intended to power the IAR-111 Excelsior supersonic plane and Haas 2B and 2C rockets. Executor is an open cycle gas generator rocket engine, that uses liquid oxygen and kerosene and has a maximum thrust of 24 tons force. ARCA decided to use composite materials and aluminum alloys on a large scale. The composite materials offer low construction costs and reduced weight of the components. They were used in the construction of the combustion chamber and the nozzle, and also the gas generator and some elements in the turbopumps. The combustion chamber and the nozzle are built from two layers. The internal layer is made of silica fiber and phenolic resin, and the external one is made of carbon fiber and epoxy resin. The phenolic resin reinforced with silica fiber pyrolyzes endothermally in the combustion chamber walls, releasing gases like oxygen and hydrogen, leaving a local carbon matrix. The gases spread through the carbon matrix and reach the internal surface of the wall where they meet the hot combustion gases and act as a cooling agent. Furthermore, the engine is equipped with a cooling system that injects 10 percent of the total kerosene mass onto the internal walls.

The pump volutes are made of 6062 type aluminum alloy. The pump rotors are made through lathing and milling using 304 type steel. The supersonic turbine is made of refractory steel, both the core and the blades. The turbine rotation speed is 20,000 rpm and has a 1.5 MW power. The intake gas temperature is 620 degrees Celsius. The main engine valves are made of 6060 type aluminum and are pneumatically powered, without adjustment. The engine injector and the liquid oxygen intake pipes are made of 304 L type steel and the kerosene intake pipe is made of composite materials. The engine has the possibility to shift the thrust by 5 degrees on two axes. The articulated system is made of composite materials and high-grade steel alloy. The engine is rotated using two hydraulic pistons that use kerosene from the pump exhaust system.

ARCA announced that the Executor engine has a thrust/mass ratio of 110.[43]


Venator is a liquid-fueled pressure-fed rocket engine that will be used to power the second stage of the Haas 2C rocket. It burns liquid oxygen and kerosene[clarification needed] and has a maximum thrust of 2.5 tonnes-force (25 kN; 5,500 lbf). The engine has no valves on the main pipes. Instead, it uses burst disks on the main pipes, between the tanks and the engine. The second stage is pressurized at 2 atm (200 kPa) at lift-off and after the first stage burn-out, the second stage will be pressurized at 16 atm. At that pressure the disks will burst and the fuel will flow through the engine.[44]


The Launch Assist System was an aerospike engine that was to use electrically heated water to produce steam, which would then generate thrust. The LAS was to reduce cost of rockets by manner of reducing the associated complexity, since steam powered rockets are far less complex than even the simplest liquid fueled engines. It was to be a self contained unit including both the engine and propellant tank. It could theoretically achieve a specific impulse of 67 seconds. The LAS was proposed to be a first stage for the Haas 2CA rocket, or to serve as a strap-on booster for existing vehicles, including the Atlas V, Falcon 9, Delta IV, and Ariane 6.[45] The EcoRocket will use a reworked version of this system with two nozzles (one for launch, and one for landing) called the LAS 25D.[46]


Flight Program Category Altitude/destination Ship configuration Engine start Status
First Flight Demonstrator 2B Unmanned 1.000 m Ground-launched rocket Yes Completed
Mission 1 Stabilo Unmanned 22.000 m Carrier balloon + Crew cabin No Completed
Mission 2 Stabilo Unmanned 22.000 m Carrier balloon + Complete ship No Completed
Mission 3 Lunar Project (Helen Test Rocket) Unmanned 100.000 m Carrier balloon + Helen (3 stages) Yes Unsuccessful
Mission 4 Lunar Project (Helen 2 Test Rocket) Unmanned 100.000 m Carrier balloon + Helen 2 (2 stages) Yes Unsuccessful
Mission 4b Lunar Project (Helen 2 Test Rocket – single stage) Unmanned 40.000 m Carrier balloon + Helen 2 (1 stage) Yes Completed
Mission 5 Avionics & TV transmission test Manned 5.000 m Carrier balloon + Stage 1 (Helen 2) + ELL No Completed
Mission 6 Cabin drop safety test Unmanned 700 m IAR-111 cabin (dropped by helicopter) No Completed
Mission 8 Equipment test (Propulsion and data transmission) Unmanned Stratospheric Payload with undisclosed rocket Yes Completed
WP3 ExoMars HADT avionics qualification test Unmanned 24,000 m Pressurized gondola No Completed[47]
CubeMessenger (BOREAS) Space launch Unmanned Orbital Haas 2C Yes TBL[48]
Mission 7 Suborbital plane test Manned 16.000 m (?) IAR-111 Yes TBL
Mission 9 VTOL test of EcoRocket Uncrewed >100m EcoRocket N/A Planned
Mission 10 First orbital flight test of EcoRocket Uncrewed <100 KM EcoRocket N/A Planned[49]

Mission 1[edit]

Helium balloon inflation on 281 Constanta warship belonging to Romanian Naval Forces

Mission 1 took place on December 2, 2006, when a solar balloon carried the STABILO system capsule to an altitude of 14,700 m (48,200 ft). The altitude was slightly lower than intended because of extreme turbulence encountered during the last stage of the flight. In light of this, it was decided not to risk damaging the system.

The flight had been planned since August 2006, when another large solar balloon was launched at low altitude in controlled flight. During this time a specially designed parachute was tested. It was the first stratospheric flight performed by ARCA, and the event was transmitted live; over 20 journalists were present.[50]

Mission 2[edit]

Mission 2 of STABILO 1B was launched on 27 September 2007 from Cape Midia Air Force Base. The Romanian Air Force participated with two radar stations. Civil Aviation and the Romanian Navy also participated, the latter with one naval diver's ship. The first and second vehicle stages reached an altitude of 12,000 m (39,000 ft). After one hour and 30 minutes and having traveled 30 km (19 mi) from the launch location, STABILO landed on the sea surface and was intercepted by a Navy Saturn ship and recovered by divers. The recovery ship was guided by the satellite transmission system and by Air Force radar. The vehicle was transported to the Navy shipyard. The electronic equipment continued to transmit to the command center even 8 hours after the flight had ended.[51]

Mission 3, 4 and 4B[edit]

Helen was a demonstrator rocket for the Haas balloon launched orbital rocket. It was intended to test in flight the avionics and gravitational stabilization method proposed for the much larger Haas rocket. Helen was intended to reach an altitude of 80 km (50 mi). Two versions were created, a three-stage rocket that had cylindrical tanks and used hydrogen peroxide as monopropellant fuel, and a two-stage spherical tank rocket that used the same propulsion type. The rocket used a physically flawed stabilization technique based on the pendulum rocket fallacy.[11]

Mission 3 took place on November 14, 2009 on the Black Sea. Romanian Naval Forces participated at the mission with one logistical ship, one diver's ship and another fast craft. For this mission, ARCA constructed the largest stratospheric helium balloon to date. An error in construction caused the balloon's inflation arms to wrap around the base of the balloon when it was inflated. The team managed to unwrap the arms and to resume inflation but sunset was approaching and the solar balloon could no longer be used. The mission was cancelled.[13]

For Mission 4 ARCAspace decided to use a helium balloon instead and to redesign the Helen rocket. The new version, named Helen 2, was prepared for flight on August 4, 2010. When balloon inflation was initiated, the balloon ruptured because of a construction error and the mission was cancelled.[14]

A new attempt was made on October 1, 2010 by using only the final stage of the Helen 2 rocket and a smaller helium balloon. The flight, named Mission 4B, was successful, Helen 2 launching at an altitude of 14,000 m (46,000 ft) and the rocket reaching an altitude of 38.7 km (24.0 mi).[52] After the difficulties encountered with stratospheric balloons, ARCA decided to stop work on the Haas rocket and design a new family of ground-launched orbital and suborbital rockets.

Mission 5[edit]

Mission 5 was carried out in partnership with the Romanian Air Club and the Romanian Aeronautic Federation. It took place before the Helen 2 rocket launch. The flight took place on April 27, 2010 between 07:45 and 08:45 AM, taking off from Hogiz, Brasov. A manned hot air balloon lifted the Helen 2 rocket pressurised capsule to an altitude of 5,200 m (17,100 ft). The maximum distance between the carrier balloon and the command center at Sanpetru airfield was 42 km (26 mi), which corresponded with the Helen 2 rocket simulated safety zone. The balloon crew was composed of Mihai Ilie – pilot, Mugurel Ionescu – copilot, and Dumitru Popescu – ELL equipment operator. The objective of the flight was to test telemetry, command and live TV transmission for the Helen 2 rocket.[53]

Mission 6[edit]

Mission 6 tested the recovery system for the IAR-111 supersonic plane crew capsule. On September 26, 2011 a Mi-17 helicopter from Special Aviation Unit lifted the capsule to 700 m (2,300 ft) above mean sea level. At that altitude, the helicopter released the capsule. The parachute deployed, and the capsule landed on the sea surface. It was recovered by the same helicopter with the help of the Romanian Coast Guard.[54]


WP3 was a validation test flight for the ExoMars Program High Altitude Drop Test (HADT), carried out in cooperation with the European Space Agency. The launch took place from the Black Sea coast on September 16, 2013 and the hardware comprised three pressurized containers containing the avionics equipment that will be necessary to test the ExoMars spacecraft parachute during future incoming flights. The pressurized containers, carried by a cluster balloon, were launched at 7:15 AM and the ascension took 90 minutes. When the containers reached an altitude of 24.4 km (15.2 mi), they were released under a dedicated recovery parachute and landed on the sea twenty minutes later. The containers and the recovery parachute were recovered by the Navy 92 km (57 mi) from the launch point.

The objectives were flight testing the avionics and communication systems, demonstrating the container sealing after sea landing and the capability to identify and recover the equipment from the sea surface.[47]

Mission 9[edit]

Mission 9 will be a short vertical hop of the EcoRocket's first stage, testing the booster landing system in much the same manner as SpaceX's Starhopper. The mission is scheduled for early 2021 before the EcoRocket's first all-up test, scheduled for June of 2021.

Mission 10[edit]

Mission 10 will be the first orbital flight of the EcoRocket. It will carry a small kick stage for orbital insertion and will launch from the Black Sea. [49] [42]

See also[edit]


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