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Stoke Space ignites its ambitious main engine for the first time

A drone camera captures the hotfire test of Stoke Space's full-flow staged combustion engine at the company's testing facility in early June.

Enlarge / A drone camera captures the hotfire test of Stoke Space’s full-flow staged combustion engine at the company’s testing facility in early June. (credit: Stoke Space)

On Tuesday, Stoke Space announced the firing of its first stage rocket engine for the first time earlier this month, briefly igniting it for about two seconds. The company declared the June 5 test a success because the engine performed nominally and will be fired up again soon.

“Data point one is that the engine is still there,” said Andy Lapsa, chief executive of the Washington-based launch company, in an interview with Ars.

The test took place at the company’s facilities in Moses Lake, Washington. Seven of these methane-fueled engines, each intended to have a thrust of 100,000 pounds of force, will power the company’s Nova rocket. This launch vehicle will have a lift capacity of about 5 metric tons to orbit. Lapsa declined to declare a target launch date, but based on historical developmental programs, if Stoke continues to move fast, it could fly Nova for the first time in 2026.

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