What Is the Future of Model Rockets in the “New Space” Era?

An Interview with Joe Barnard

The success of SpaceX, and the pending arrival of Blue Origin, has totally disrupted the heavy launcher market, and right alongside that disruption a fierce war is being fought amongst the new entrants with smaller launchers for the the growing small satellite and cubesat market, with the first of the new companies now having reached orbit.

Scout C3, plotting and executing an orientation change mid-flight. (📷: Barnard Propulsion Systems)
Thrust vectoring for model rockets. (📷: Barnard Propulsion Systems)

Can you tell me how you got into model rocketry? Do you have an aerospace background?

“The Future of Scale Rocketry,” from NARCON 2018 in Houston, TX. (📷: BPS.space)

Is this your day job? Or is it a ‘side gig’ for you?

Barnard Propulsion Systems. (📷: BPS.space)

Why did you decide to sell the board, rather than just talk about it?

The Signal R2 flight computer, front (left) and back side (right). (📷: Barnard Propulsion Systems)

What got you interested in thrust vectoring?

Thrust vectoring mounts coming down the production line. (📷: Barnard Propulsion Systems)

Tell me about the Signal?

The Signal Alpha flight computer and thrust vectoring mount. (📷: Barnard Propulsion Systems)

Where are you going after the Signal R2?

A model of the Rocket Lab Electron. (📷: Barnard Propulsion Systems)

Tell me about the Falcon Heavy Build?

Falcon Heavy Model — Booster Test Flight. (Video credit: BPS.space)
Liftoff of the Falcon Heavy boosters. (📷: Barnard Propulsion Systems)
Falcon Heavy Staging! (📷: Barnard Propulsion Systems)
Slightly early chute deployment on the FH side boosters. (📷: Barnard Propulsion Systems)

You’re now attempting a real powered landing, how’s it going?

The latest propulsive landing test, the “Echo — Drop Test #2.” (📷: BPS.space)
Echo TV7 on 3 out of 4 chutes — one failed to open due to low descent speed. (📷: Barnard Propulsion Systems)

Once you succeed, where then?

You have an joint initiative with universities?

How is your work being supported? Do you have partners on the project?

One of Aerotech’s custom motors, built for thrust vectoring. (📷: BPS.space)

Scientist, Author, Hacker, Maker, and Journalist.