BluShift Aerospace’s MAREVL engine ignites during a test at the Brunswick Executive Airport Wednesday, May 3. Courtesy of bluShift Aerospace

A Brunswick space company, the first in the world to launch a commercial rocket powered by biofuel, tested its latest engine Wednesday. CEO Sascha Deri said it soared above expectations.

The startup bluShift Aerospace, headquartered in Brunswick Landing, fired its MAREVL engine for 10 seconds at Brunswick Executive Airport. The engine, expected to deliver about 16,500 pounds of thrust, reached 21,500 pounds of thrust, according to Deri.

BluShift’s MAREVL engine will power its Starless Rogue rocket that is expected to launch later this year or early next year. Courtesy of bluShift Aerospace

“That is fantastic,” Deri said. “That goes beyond what I was expecting our engine could ever do. … We did not even do everything we can do to tune up the system. That means the engine ran incredibly well.”

In December, the engine produced 10,000 pounds of thrust during a 21-second burn.

There were some hiccups Wednesday. Engineers tried firing the engine about 20 times before it finally ignited. Deri said high humidity and rainy weather may have clogged the ignition system.

“This is what feeds me to keep on going,” he said. “The success is from learning from what went wrong.”


The biofuel that the company uses is a closely guarded secret; Deri has only revealed he found the inspiration for it while on his brother’s farm in North Yarmouth. Last year, he ate some of the fuel to prove it’s bio-derived and nontoxic.

“But when it burns, oh, does it burn,” Deri said.

BluShift Aerospace CEO Sascha Deri in front of the launch site during an engine test Wednesday. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

The MAREVL engine will power the company’s 50-foot Starless Rogue rocket, expected to launch late this year or early next year. The rocket will carry research sensors to measure things like radiation, temperature and humidity sent up by students from across the world, Deri said. After reaching space, the rocket will return to Earth and deploy a parachute to land. BluShift has a multi-million-dollar partnership with MaxIQ Space, which builds the sensors.

“It has the potential of over $100 million in revenue per year in the years to come,” Deri said.

BluShift last year announced it plans to send human ashes and pet ashes into space.

Deri said the company, founded in 2014, is trying to raise $4 million in seed funding and is considering an initial public offering.

In January 2021, the company launched its prototype Stardust rocket at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, becoming the first company in Maine to launch a commercial rocket and the first in the world to launch a commercial rocket using biofuel.

The next major test the company is planning is a 60-second burn of the MAREVL engine, which would be enough to power the Starless Rogue rocket to space.

“It makes me very hopeful that this next big test will be the one we need to get Starless Rogue ready for flight,” Deri said. “We have to get to space. It’s time to punch it.”

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