ARCA Space: AMi Program
ARCA Space is a Romanian aerospace company. In 2022 the company announced their Asteroid Mining Program (AMi), which is a ten-year program focused on cryptocurrency and asteroid mining. The program is still at the very early stages of definition and planning; and currently includes three key projects:
- Development and operation of an asteroid mining vehicle (AMi Cargo) able to mine metals from asteroids and send them to Earth. The AMi Cargo will be designed to intercept Near Earth Objects, mine up to 2.5 tons of ore and send it to Earth. The ore will be recovered, processed on Earth, and sold.
- Development and operation of the world’s most cost-effective and environmentally friendly rocket, powerful enough to allow frequent transportation of heavy payloads to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). EcoRocket Heavy is forecast to have a price per launch of around $5.000.000.
- The creation of the AMi cryptocurrency. Customers will be able to purchase the ore with 20% payable using AMi cryptocurrency tokens. Sales of cryptocurrency tokens will constitute the main source of revenue for the AMi program.
The EcoRocket Heavy
EcoRocket Heavy will be able to launch 24 tons to LEO and will be used to launch the AMi Cargo spacecraft. EcoRocket Heavy will have a maximum diameter of 34.5 m, a height of 28 m, an empty weight of 188 tons and launch weight of 5,443 tons.
EcoRocket Heavy will use multiple Propulsion Modules (PM) strapped together. The third stage is placed around the payload and is made of two rows of propulsion modules, accounting for a total of 30 units. The second stage is wrapped around the third stage and is made of three rows of propulsion modules, accounting for a total of 90 units, while the first stage is made of seven rows of 420 propulsion modules, accounting for a total of 540 units.
The rocket will be launched from the sea. The general launch sequence will be as follows.
The rocket’s fueling will start three days before the launch, using water-based propellant for the first and second stage, and hydrogen peroxide and kerosene for the third stage.
After the fueling is complete, two tugs will start towing the EcoRocket Heavy from the pier, 24 hours before launch, heading to a point 30 nautical miles off the coast. After reaching that point, the tugs will move to a distance of 10 nautical miles, awaiting the recovery procedure.
The first stage engine will run for 32 s, the vehicle reaching 7,000 m and a speed of 1,750 km/h. At 7,000 m the second stage will be released and continue ascending for 50 s to an altitude of 43,000 m and a speed of 3,800 km/h. Both stages’ trajectory is purely vertical.
The third stage will separate from the second stage at 60 km, and it will start performing a pitch and yaw manoeuvre alignment for orbit injection, using the onboard RCSs. After the alignment, the third stage will then start its engines, which will run for a total of 185 s, increasing the vehicle’s speed to 28,500 km/h and an altitude of 160 km. The third stage’s engine is restartable as many times as desired, as it uses self-igniting propellants.
After the third stage’s engines cut-off, the AMi Cargo will separate from the rocket.
After the first and second stages complete their flight, they will descend under their small drogue parachutes and using the allocated propulsion modules for a short 6 seconds duration brake before splashing-down in the sea, close to the launch point from where they will be towed by the two tugs back to harbour.
The first two stages will then be inspected and prepared for their next flight.
Status and Schedule
The AMi program started on March 15, 2022 and it will end on March 1, 2031. Current high-level schedule of the EcoRocket Heavy:
2022 – The fabrication of EcoRocket Heavy started at ARCA and the first Propulsion Modules are planned to be available in 2022.
2023 – The first launches of the Propulsion Modules designed for all three stages of EcoRocket Heavy.
2024 – The first complete EcoRocket Heavy will be launched in 2024, carrying a dummy AMi Cargo as payload.
ARCA has published a white paper with more details, which is available for download below.