Stoke Space Technologies is a company manufacturing space vehicle components and performing scientific and technological services associated with the space industry. The company is headquartered in Renton, Washington, and was founded in 2019 by former Blue Origin employees Andrew Lapsa and Thomas Feldman. Some members of Stoke Space's team have also been involved in large-scale rocket programs at SpaceX and Spaceflight.
The company makes space vehicle components, such as rockets, orbit transfer vehicles, space modules, lunar modules, planetary modules, crew transport modules, and modules for cargo transfer vehicles. Stoke Space performs test engineering for different space flight vehicles and space launch services and offers space flight and launch engineering services.
Stoke Space is part of the Y Combinator W2021 program, has active contracts with NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and is constructing engineering and test facilities on a 2.3-acre site at the Port of Moses Lake in Washington state.
Stoke has a long-term plan of developing rockets and satellites with potential for reusability—primarily the rockets' upper stage in flight. After the first stage of space flight, the upper stage is responsible for the propulsion that moves the rocket to its final destination. Typically the upper stage burns up and disintegrates upon atmosphere re-entry at the end of the flight.
Unlike the majority of small, lower-cost satellites, Stoke plans for its reusable rockets and satellites to go beyond low-Earth orbit, possibly as far as geosynchronous orbit and translunar or interplanetary trajectories. Additionally, the company aims for the downtime of the spacecraft post return to be minimal, with twenty four-hour turnaround and zero refurbishment.
Stoke claims that its rockets could be 100% reusable and reduce the cost of space access by a factor of twenty. Between flights, the hypothetical spacecraft would rely on automated checks, which would diminish the necessity for labor and maintenance.
In August 2020, Stoke was awarded $124,900 from NASA for an advanced rocket nozzle project. The company has stated that this new nozzle for planetary landers and reusable space vehicles achieves high area ratio gas expansion within a reduced form factor that alleviates the plume-surface interaction by increasing the clearance between the base of a lander vehicle and the target surface.
The nozzle can also reach equivalent ground clearance by decreasing the size and mass of the landing gear. It is ten times shorter than traditional bell nozzles and accommodates deep throttle operation in the presence of atmospheric pressure. When integrated into the base of the spacecraft, it serves as an actively cooled metallic heat shield during atmospheric entry. With this system, the vehicle is protected from surface ejecta during terminal descent on unprepared landing sites such as on the Moon or Mars.
Potential NASA applications include:
- Lunar Lander vehicles
- Mars Lander vehicles
- Planetary Lander vehicles
- Earth return vehicles
- Compact high performance thrusters for RCS or OMS in space vehicles
Potential non-NASA applications include:
- Reusable second stages of launch vehicles
- RCS for spacecraft and satellites
- OMS for spacecraft and satellites
- Compact missile systems
- Hypersonic vehicles
- Air-augmented rockets
In June 2020, Stoke Space was awarded $225,000 from the National Science Foundation for its reusable spacecraft proposal. The proposal's abstract outlines the company's technical aims, namely the implementation of high-efficiency propulsion, rigorous thermal protection, and low structural mass into its vehicle designs to enable reusability at the second-stage level. The optimization parameters include environmental conditions, energy balance, performance predictions, component sizing, and mechanical design elements.