In 1997, as part of a space privatization trend encouraged by the federal government, Andrew Beal started an aerospace company to build rockets with the goal of placing communications satellites in orbit.
Operating with more than 200 employees from a 163,000-square-foot space in Frisco, TX, Beal Aerospace focused on a three-stage, 200-foot-tall rocket. Powered by hydrogen peroxide and kerosene, the engine eliminated the need for a separate ignition system because, as the hydrogen peroxide oxidized, it ignited the kerosene.
On March 4, 2000, Beal Aerospace tested the BA-810 Stage 2 engine, which was the largest liquid-fueled rocket engine built since NASA's Apollo program. The 810,000-pound vacuum thrust hydrogen peroxide/kerosene engine made a 21-second firing at the company's engine test facility in McGregor, Texas.
In light of competition from new NASA-sponsored initiatives, Mr. Beal closed the company and ceased operations on Oct. 23, 2000, citing the difficulty a private company faced in competing with NASA's subsidized space programs.