Welcome to Rocket Report 3.30! This week we celebrate another private company ̵
As always, we welcome readers’ submissions, and if you don’t want to miss a problem, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear in AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small, medium and heavy missiles, as well as a quick look at the next three launches on the calendar.
Virgin Orbit goes into orbit. On Sunday afternoon, Virgin Orbit joined the rare club of companies that developed a private rocket and successfully launched it into orbit. In addition, with its LauncherOne rocket, which crashed from a 747 aircraft, the California-based company was the first to reach orbit with a liquid-fueled rocket fired into the air.
Only his second attempt to start … The flight, which involved multiple launches of the engine at the upper stage of LauncherOne and the successful deployment of several small satellites for NASA, includes a development program that spans about eight years and countless technical challenges. Ars reports some of the new problems arising from a liquid-fueled rocket fired horizontally. (filed by platykurtic and Ken the Bin)
Blue Origin could shoot people in April. Following the flight of the New Shepard-14 company on January 14, he is planning another unwrapped mission before flying passengers, CNBC reports. The next test flight, the NS-15, could come in late February, followed by a crew flight six weeks later, sometime in April.
The schedule remains indicative … The company declined to comment on New Shepard’s schedule, a Blue Origin spokesman said the report’s reporting “is speculative and unconfirmed.” However, this is in line with what we have heard about the company’s plans that another successful flight will create human tests. This leaves open the exciting opportunity for astronauts’ commercial flights before the end of 2021 (presented by Ken Bean)
Rocket Lab has launched a campaign to launch in 2021.. Rocket Lab successfully launched a communication satellite for the German company OHB Group on Wednesday, in the first mission of Electron for the year, reports SpaceNews. Rocket Lab had cleared an initial attempt to launch the “Another Leaves the Bark” mission four days earlier due to “strange data” from a sensor.
Is it actually a Chinese satellite? … As the publication notes, there was some uncertainty about the true nature of the payload. The OHB described the GMS-T payload as a “50 kg class” satellite in orbit at an altitude of 1,200 kilometers and as a “prototype spacecraft for a planned new constellation of telecommunications satellites.” It is believed that the main customer of the satellite may actually be GMS Zhaopin, a Chinese company that is planning a satellite constellation. (filed by platykurtic and Ken the Bin)
Phantom Space is working on a vehicle to search for paths. In a tweet on Sunday, the new company said it was about to complete a model to develop its Daytona rocket. “This development model is a production and design guide for the flight system and will be completed in the first quarter of this year,” the company said. The tweet (now deleted but archived here) included an image of what looked like this guidebook in the factory, with several people standing around.
Everything is not as it seems … However, sharp-eyed readers noted that the image appeared to be a depiction or perhaps a composite image of a rocket depicted in a real factory. (See the archived image here). Eventually, Phantom Space founder Jim Cantrell called, saying, “Guys, his OFFER – EVERYTHING. The last time I looked, it was not illegal. Maybe I should review the federal code again. ” This may not be entirely true. The rocket was presented, but in fact the photo was real. NASA’s interrupted engine for Orion, made in 2019, was originally shown.
Falcon 9 sets records for reuse, expands the envelope. The Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to take off on Wednesday morning, lifting its payload from 60 Starlink Internet satellites into orbit. Then came something like a challenge for this first stage – gluing the landing. According to SpaceX engineer Jesse Anderson, the winds on the surface near the landing site were stronger than what Falcon 9 rockets had experienced in previous flights. With a safe landing, she said, it “expanded the scope” of the wind’s recovery limits.
This mission reached key points in other ways … This was the eighth flight of this Falcon 9 rocket first stage – setting a new record for the number of uses of any core of a rocket, reports Ars. And its 38-day turnaround period since its last launch significantly exceeds the previous turnaround margin for the first phase of the Falcon 9, which is 51 days.
China launches first missile in 2021. On Tuesday, the country’s Long March 3B rocket launched the Tiantong-1 mobile communications satellite into orbit. The launch took place from the Xichang satellite launch center in Sichuan Province, NASASpaceflight.com reports.
There is much more to come … The Long March-3B launch vehicle is decades old and has been used to launch both domestic and international satellites. The Chinese government and several trading companies in the country are expected to launch 40 or more missiles next year. (filed by Ken Ben)
The French government is seeking to speed up engine testing. The French space agency CNES and European rocket developer ArianeGroup have agreed to begin testing the Prometheus rocket engine before the end of this year. The goal is to speed up Prometheus’ schedule by consolidating the Vernon test program in Normandy, France.
You need to go faster … Under the agreement, ArianeGroup will receive additional funding for the site to allow the tests. Europe is benefiting greatly from the development of Prometheus, which it considers a “cheap, reusable” engine. It is expected to power a new generation of missiles after Ariane 6 and Vega C. “This agreement was signed against the backdrop of intensified global competition in the field of launch vehicles,” the news release said.
Boeing is completing Starliner software updates. Boeing recently completed its official retraining of the CST-100 Starliner’s flight software in preparation for its next flight, the company said this week. “The work that this team is comprehensively pushing out our software is a defining moment for the program,” said John Volmer, vice president of Starliner and program manager. “We are smarter as a team that has gone through this process.”
Set a new start … The rewriting and re-testing of the spacecraft’s software came after the 2019 unscrewed test flight of the spacecraft failed to fulfill its mission to dock with the International Space Station. This led to the decision to redesign the vehicle software and conduct another unwrapped flight test. The launch of this next mission with the Atlas V rocket is pre-planned for March 29 (submitted by Ken the Bin, platykurtic and Tfargo04)
Satellogic signs a launch agreement with SpaceX. The Uruguay-based company that builds Earth observation satellites has said it has signed a “multiple launch agreement” to deliver its satellites to Falcon 9 missions. “What SpaceX has achieved through its agile launch schedule is the perfect in addition to our own business model at Satellogic, ”said Alan Harsansky, vice president of Mission Engineering and Operations.
Expect the first launch soon … As part of its announcement, the company said that SpaceX would become Satellogic’s “preferred provider” for riding sharing missions, reducing the time between production and launch of its satellites. The first launch will take place in June 2021. This seems like a remarkable change, as Satellogic initially launched on Chinese missiles. (filed by Tfargo04, platykurtic and Ken the Bin)
Putting the launch into perspective. A new report from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is part of the Department of Commerce, estimates the “gross output” of the US space economy from 2012 to 2018. For the last available year, the space economy amounted to 177.5 billion dollars (0, 5 percent) of gross domestic production in the United States. Two sectors dominated the space economy: information and manufacturing.
A piece of pie … The start-up industry falls into this last category, say the study’s authors. The subcategory “other transport equipment” was estimated at $ 17.4 billion in 2018 and includes space vehicles and space weapons systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles. Space covers a wide range of industries, the report notes, including agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, mining and utilities, reflecting R&D-related production and remote sensing. (filed by TH)
The SLS missile failed to complete its hot fire test. The main stage of the NASA rocket came to life on Saturday afternoon in southern Mississippi, but then stopped only after 67.2 seconds. Officials hoped the test would last 485 seconds, but believed they could get enough data with a 250-second shot, Ars reported. “It’s not all we hoped it would be,” said then-NASA administrator Jim Bridenstein.
Test again or not? … Preliminary analysis found that the test was completed after the built-in sensor detected the pump return pressure slightly below the test limits. This reading came shortly after the rocket began to steer or steer its engines. Publicly, NASA officials say they should review test data before deciding whether to repeat the Green Run test. But internally, Ars reports that employees are already strongly leaning towards repetition to gather all the necessary data. (filed by Ken Ben)
Starship gets two mobile spaceports. SpaceX has acquired two former drilling platforms to serve as floating spaceports for its Starship launch system, NASASpaceflight.com reports. Named Phobos and Deimos, after the two moons on Mars, they are currently undergoing modifications to support Starfleet launch operations. SpaceX recently began hiring crane operators, electricians and offshore engineers to modify the platforms.
There are no noise problems here … Although SpaceX enjoys some autonomy at its Boca Chicago launch pad, unlike the more tightly regulated facility at Cape Canaveral, the company can gain even more freedom at sea. The super-heavy rocket launch vehicle will have a large area of danger of explosions and will create noise problems if it is fired frequently near populated areas. (filed by danneely, platykurtic, martialartstechie and Ken the Bin)
The next three starts
January 23: Falcon 9 | Conveyor 1 ride-sharing | Cape Canaveral, Florida 14:40 UTC
January 27: Falcon 9 | Starlink-17 | Kennedy Space Center, Florida. | 13:00 UTC
February 15: Союз | Progress 77P | Baikonur Cosmodrome 04:45 UTC