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Rocket report: South Korea’s SpaceX dilemma, Rocket Lab finds quick fix

Breathtaking sea rock.
Zoom in / Browse the scenic Astra launch site for Rocket 3.1.

Welcome to Edition 3.11 of the Missile Report! Many of the most interesting news this week came in the world of small shots, as Electron announced a quick return to flight, as well as increasing the capacity of its electronic booster. We were also surprised to see such a powerful fundraising effort from ABL Space Systems.

As always, we welcome readers̵

7; statements, and if you do not want to miss a problem, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not be displayed in AMP enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small, medium and heavy missiles, as well as a quick look ahead in the next three launches on the calendar.

Astra attempts to launch a second orbital rocket. The launch window for the launch of a 3.1 rocket from the company’s spaceport on Kodiak Island, Alaska, opened on Sunday night. A combination of technical problems with missile and ground systems, as well as meteorological problems, ruled out Sunday-Wednesday launches.

Sliding to the end of the window … The company aims to fly on Thursday, August 6, with the window opening at 19:00 PST (02:00 UTC Friday). The purpose of this flight, which will not carry commercial payload, is to go through the shooting in the first stage. The lighting for the second stage and the entry into orbit will be gravitational, the company’s CEO Chris Kemp told reporters last week. We wish Astra well (filed by Ken Bean)

Virgin Galactic delays trade flights until 2021, Virgin Galactic pushed the start of commercial flights on its suborbital vehicle SpaceShipTwo no earlier than the first quarter of 2021, until it announced plans to sell additional shares to raise money, reports SpaceNews. The company in its fiscal financial results for the second quarter, published on Monday, said it expects to perform two more test flights of SpaceShipTwo from Spaceport America in New Mexico, both of which will be powered by flights.

And then, the knight … “Assuming things go as expected on this fully equipped flight, then we plan to fly Sir Richard Branson on the third powerful flight from New Mexico,” said George T. Whitesides, the company’s chief space officer. This will set the stage for commercial service. At this point, we are in the camp, which we will believe when we see it, on Virgin Galactic’s plans for commercial space tourism. (posted by JohnCarter17)

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Rocket Lab announces a return to flight this monthIn a relatively quick twist, Rocket Lab says it received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to resume launches this month after identifying an abnormal electrical connection as the cause of the flight failure on July 4, 2020. The investigation was able to confidently narrow the issue down to an abnormal electrical connection.

Directing a mission to return to flight in August … “The problem arose in incredibly specific and unique circumstances, causing the connection to fail in a way we won’t find in standard testing,” said Rocket Lab boss Peter Beck. “Our team has already reliably replicated the problem in the test and found that it can be mitigated through additional tests and procedures.” Separately, Rocket Lab also announced an impressive increase in Electron’s payload from 225 kg to 300 kg to low Earth orbit. . (presented by trimeta, Unrulycow, Ken the Bin and platykurtic)

ABL provides new funding, ABL Space Systems, a three-year startup developing launch vehicles for small satellites, announced this week that it had received two contracts for the US Air Force worth $ 44.5 million and secured $ 49 million in new private funding. ABL says it plans to launch the first orbital launch of its RS1 in 2021.

To raise funds during a pandemic … “We finished a round during the COVID-19 pandemic. Undoubtedly, there are serious challenges in the lives of many people this year, but I think the rhetoric about funding small startups is completely frozen and needs to be rescued at the industrial level. a bit exaggerated, “founder and CFO Dan Piedmont told SpaceNews. It’s a good amount of money and the company’s technology seems to be maturing. We’ll be looking forward to seeing where ABL goes. (Submitted by JohnCarter17 and Ken the Bin)

Virgin Orbit will carry NASA loads on a second launchIn an extensive blog post, Virgin Orbit said it had identified the root cause of its first failed launch attempt: “A break in the high-pressure line carrying cryogenic liquid oxygen to our combustion chamber in the first stage due to a component failure. Without a supply of oxidizer, this engine soon ceased to provide traction, terminating our powerful flight and ultimately the test itself. “

Update a second mission to start a demo … The company claims that the hardware device is in “final integration” now and will soon be delivered to Mojave, California, for testing. For the second mission, NASA agreed to launch 11 CubeSats for its CubeSat Launch Initiative. This shows a delightful tolerance for risk on the part of NASA and a certain confidence on the part of Virgin. The company plans to make this flight “by the end of this year.”

The Ariane 5 rocket is now aimed at August 14On July 31, with less than three minutes to count down, the launch of an Ariane 5 rocket carrying three satellites was stopped. The reason? A technical problem involving the “unexpected behavior” of a sensor inside the liquid-hydrogen tank in the main stage.

Return from the pandemic … The rocket was then transferred back to the final assembly building at the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. This week, Arianespace announced a new launch date, August 14, “with the possibility of optimization in the mission process to be completed one day in advance.” This is an important mission and the first flight from Kourou, as outer space closed earlier this year due to COVID-19. (filed by Ken Bean)

After delays, the Starlink mission returns to the launch padAfter a six-week delay for undisclosed reasons, SpaceX raised the Falcon 9 vertical on its launch pad on Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Spaceflight Now reports. The company will try again on Friday to launch the next batch of Starlink Internet relay stations and a pair of BlackSky Earth-imaging commercial microsatellites.

Late night launch … Liftoff is set for 05:12 UTC Friday. This will be the first launch of SpaceX, which brings a full range of Starlink satellites equipped with new awnings or visors, in an attempt to make the spacecraft less visible to ground-based telescopes, addressing fears expressed by astronomers that thousands of Starlink satellites could interfere with scientific observations.

South Korea is considering quitting its own launch program, South Korean defense industry analysts say the nation will have difficulty competing with other countries in the launch industry that can provide more modern technologies and services at lower prices with their already established space industry. “Even if South Korea develops its own rockets, they won’t be able to outperform space giants like SpaceX in terms of technology,” said Shin Jeong-woo, a senior researcher at the Korean Defense and Security Forum.

Ten times the price … The country’s space institute, KARI, has developed several small satellite rockets, but they are not competitive with SpaceX’s Falcon 9, which recently launched South Korea’s first military communications satellite, ANASIS-II. “The costs incurred by the South Korean government to develop the two rockets were 10 times higher than the costs incurred by SpaceX,” said Kim Seung-Joe, a former KARI president. “But the results of the South Korean government in its rocket projects were far behind the Falcon 9 rocket produced by SpaceX.” (posted by JohnCarter17)

SES selects SpaceX, ULA for commercial launchesIn separate news releases, SES announced deals with the two leading startups in America. SpaceX will be able to launch up to three of its C-band satellites over two Falcon 9 launches, and one United Launch Alliance Atlas V will carry the two stacked satellites. Only American missiles were considered for trade missions.

There is no Vulcan for this one … The launch of C-band satellites will facilitate the spread of the 5G network in the United States. The announcement is remarkable for several reasons: first, it is rare for a ULA to win a purely commercial contract. Second, the ULA mission will fly the Atlas V, not the Vulcan rocket. This may indicate a certain lack of confidence on behalf of the SES about Vulcan’s readiness in 2022 (presented by JohnCarter17 and Ken the Bin)

Swarm to run with Rideshare on Falcon 9, Swarm Technologies is working with Exolaunch of Germany to orbit 24 SpaceBee satellites on the SpaceX Falcon 9 small satellite mission, which is due to launch in December. Exolaunch, a satellite launching and sharing company, will be able to launch, integrate and deploy SpaceBee satellites in orbit in sync with the sun, SpaceNews reports.

Targeting to December … Earlier this year, Exolaunch announced an agreement with SpaceX to send a number of small satellites into orbit during the action’s flight in December. For launch in December, Exolaunch plans to integrate Falcon 9 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle port microsatellites and cubicles into port and send the satellites into orbit with EXOpod, the company’s own deployment system. (filed by Ken Bean and John Carter17)

The takeoff of the Atlas V to Mars was certainly magnificentLast Thursday, the Atlas V rocket launched NASA’s latest rover, Sustainability, to the Red Planet. For this mission, NASA chose the Atlas V rocket with four solid rocket boosters. Yes, this is a free photo gallery.

Smoke and fire … The rocket, built by the United Launch Alliance, flew under clear skies from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and, well, we’ll stop writing, because the photos of this epic shot speak for themselves. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a more breathtaking Atlas V.

The Starship prototype makes its first flightOn Tuesday night, just over an hour before the sun sank on the moving Texas horizon, this Star Wars prototype exploded and left Earth for the first time. He rose from a stand with his only Raptor rocket engine burning clean. The 30-meter car then climbed about 150 meters, moved sideways and began to descend before a safe landing, reports Ars. This prototype lacks key structural elements, including a large nose cone, flaps, an intermediate stage, and more. But critically, this vehicle contains the Starship propulsion system.

Bigger hop later this year? … After the test on Tuesday, the next steps of the program are unclear. Tuesday’s vehicle was serial number 5 or SN5. He will probably retire now. Inside the tents and high bays of South Texas, SpaceX has components for the SN6, a separate road tracking tank that uses a new steel alloy, and the SN8. This latest vehicle is likely to have nose tensioners and fly control, and is likely to increase the number of Raptor engines to three. This vehicle can make a test flight up to 20 km later this year.

Next three launches

August 7: Rocket 3.1 Second attempt to launch Astra booster Kodiak Island, Alaska 02:00 UTC

August 7: Falcon 9 | Starlink-9 mission Kennedy Space Center, Florida 05:12 UTC

August 14: Ariana 5 | Satellites Galaxy 30, MEV-2 and BSAT-4B | Kourou, French Guiana 21:33 UTC

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