Welcome to Version 3.04 of Rocket News! This week we look forward to the exciting Vega launch on Friday evening (or early Saturday, if you’re in Europe) that will be worth watching if you’re near a computer. This is Vega’s return-to-flight mission, and it’s always fun to see a small, powerful rocket, well, rocket close the launch pad.
As always, we Welcome RSS feed, and if you don’t want to miss a problem, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as the fast-forwarding of the next three launches on the calendar.
Rocket Lab launch, sign two more customers. On Saturday, the Electron rocket successfully launched a set of payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and two universities on a 2.5-month mission due to the coronavirus pandemic. All five payloads on the rocket for the Don’t Stop Me Now mission were successfully deployed in a “perfect orbit,” SpaceNews reported.
Double the fun … Then, on Thursday, Rocket Lab announced that it had inked two additional launch contracts for NRO. The missions were awarded through the NRO’s Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket contract, an initiative that allows the agency to explore new opportunities for launching small satellites through a streamlined, commercial approach. The missions are scheduled for launch within weeks of each other in late spring 2021 from two separate pads at Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1. (submitted by JohnCarter17 and Ken the Bin)
Vega’s promotion faces a big test. Almost a year has passed since Italy’s Vega rocket launched a 1.2-ton satellite from French Guiana only to fail after reaching orbit. Now, the Vega rocket is set for its return-to-flight mission Friday night at 9:51 pm ET (01:51 UTC Saturday). This is an important mission for more than just getting the Vega rocket back on track. It was also the first launch of a rocket from a European air base in French Guiana since February, after which the facility was closed due to COVID-19 precautions.
Big and small In addition to this mission, the small Vega developer is looking to prove its bona fides as a powerful booster to fly rideshare missions. On this launch, the rocket will launch a “Mission Mission Small Spacecraft” to take payloads of different sizes to various orbits. Vega will launch 53 separate satellites, ranging from 1kg CubeSats up to 500kg mini-satellites, Ars reports.
Astra is targeting late July for the second attempt. Astra Rocket Astra will try again for the first launch of the rocket in July. The Oakland startup will navigate the coronavirus-plagued region while trying to launch satellites into space regularly, CNBC reports. The company suffered a setback in March when a fire broke out as the Astra was preparing the Rocket 3.0 on the launch pad.
Adjustment to orbit … The company examines the issue and will send a new rocket ship to Alaska at the end of this month, for the launch window that opens on July 20. Astra is aiming for orbit with this launch, although the CEO Chris Kemp explained that he defines success as a stable flight for the first stage. “Our plan here is to see first-class service, then we have two more planes,” Kemp said. “We still have the intention of reorienting towards orbit.” (submitted by Ken the Bin, JohnCarter17, and platykurtic)
The MOMO-5 sounding rocket failed to reach space. On Saturday, Interstellar Technologies’ MOMO-5 rocket launched but suffered a loss of control around the space that reached max Q, TechCrunch news. The mission from Hokkaido, Japan, was rescheduled from late 2019 and early this year due to a number of delays, including COVID-19.
Not a great batting total Only one of the company’s five MOMO rocket launch attempts has succeeded in reaching space. The nine-meter rocket is a test bed as part of Interstellar’s plan to design a small, affordable way of delivering small payloads into orbit. Clearly, there is still work to be done. (submitted by tsunam, ABA, JohnCarter17, and DanNeely)
A new utility to track the Chinese launch company. If you’re like us, trying to understand the scale of China’s launch industry can be a little overwhelming. That includes both government programs and the slew of new “private” companies that have licensed government technology. Just in time, Bryce Space and Technology is here to help.
Lots of rockets … In a new, data-rich scale, Bryce highlights the location of the country’s top four airports, the organization of its launch industry, and the country’s dramatic growth in annual launches. The chart also provides detailed information on a dozen rockets that are either currently available or expected to be available within the next two years.
Skyrora launches micro-rocket in Scotland. Edinburgh-based Skyrora launched its Skylark Nano rocket from the Fethaland peninsula in the Shetland Islands last week. The 2-meter-long rocket reaches a height of 6.1km, BBC reported. The Shetland site is one of three possible launch sites in Scotland and could offer a suitable location for polar launches.
About those wind profiles … Skyrora said the test launch was designed to gather data for future launches. “The launch represents an important step towards Skyrora’s ambitions. We are very excited and proud,” said Robin Hague, the trial director. The launch is intended to “understand local launch conditions, more knowledge about wind profiles in Shetland, is essential.” (submitted by ABA, dbayly, and NotYourname)
NASA is confident in the Mars 2020 launch. Space agency officials say they are confident the 2020 Perseverance rover mission will launch this summer amid major measures the agency has to take to keep the mission on track during the coronavirus pandemic. The Mars rover is scheduled to launch on an Atlas V rocket between July 20 and August 11, SpaceNews news.
We promise to wait … The plane will soon be encapsulated inside the rocket’s payload fairing, and transferred to the Atlas 5 Vertical Integrity Facility to be installed on top of the rocket. If Mars 2020 accidentally misses its launch window, it will have to wait until the next Mars launch window opens in 26 months, at a cost of $500 million. (submitted by platykurtic)
Spaceflight signs Falcon 9 rideshare deal. Seattle-based Spaceflight Inc. said it has signed an agreement to secure slots for secondary payloads on several SpaceX rockets due to launch by the end of 2021. Geek Wire reports. It appears as though most of the missions will be booked as secondary payloads on SpaceX’s Starlink launches.
First job up soon … Spaceflight’s next rideshare mission with SpaceX is set to launch early next week. The Falcon 9 rocket is due to send two of the Earth-BlackSky observation satellites into orbit with the Starlink-9 mission. “SpaceX’s consistent launch system, coupled with our deep expertise in mission management and integration services, offers rideshare options with great reliability,” said Curt Blake, President and CEO of Spaceflight. (submitted by Fenris_uy, Ken the Bin, and JohnCarter17)
SpaceX to invest in McGregor test site. In recent months, SpaceX’s Boca Chica rocket plant in South Texas has received more attention than any other facility in the central part of the state, near Waco, Texas. However, SpaceX said it plans to spend $10 million on infrastructure improvements to the rocket test facility for “noise suppressors,” road work, and other upgrades, the Waco Tribune-Herald reports.
Make a big impact … The city and county are expected to contribute $2 million toward the upgrades. SpaceX rents 4,280 acres in the McGregor industrial area, where it employs 500 people. The company has owned the site since late 2002, when it first leased a much smaller area, housing facilities originally built by Beal Aerospace. (submitted by JohnCarter17)
The US military is serious about nuclear weapons. Last month, through a forecast, the US Advanced Research Projects Agency announced its intention to have a nuclear thermal launch system ready for a demonstration in 2025. DARPA’s decision to push forward with the development of thermal radiation There is destruction as the technologies that make it necessary grow. , Ars news.
A Super DRACO system Through this Demonstration Rocket for Cislunar Agile Operations, or DRACO program, the defense industry is looking for technology that will allow for more responsive control of spacecraft in Earth orbit, lunar orbit, and everywhere in between, giving the military the greatest operational freedom of these. residences. “Activity in cislunar space is expected to increase in the coming years,” Maj. Nathan Greiner, manager of the DRACO Program, told Ars. “A flexible nuclear thermal imaging vehicle enables the DOD to maintain a space command intelligence of operational output within this large volume.”
SpaceX plans to build an ocean-based launch pad. The company is hiring “external service engineers” to help develop floating ports for Starship, its next-generation transportation system. Space.com reports. “SpaceX is building floating, super-heavy spaceships for Mars, the moon & hypersonic travel around Earth,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted.
A non-domestic rocket … The ocean-based space station system itself is not new, as SpaceX has been talking about this possibility for a long time. But the hiring announcement suggests the company is moving forward with the plan. Such a launch facility would give the company more flexibility in scheduling launches of the titanic rocket. “We need to be far enough away that we don’t worry about crowded areas,” Musk tweeted. “Launching & landing is not a trick.” (submitted by Ken the Bin)
Artemis I saw the rocket boosters arrive at KSC. Successfully completing the cross-country train journey from Utah to Florida were all 10 propellant sections for the Artemis I mission of the SLS rocket, NASASpaceflight.com news. The rocket boosters will now wait for the rocket base stage to arrive.
Waiting for a stacking schedule … For Artemis I, the Solid Rocket Boosters will be the first part of the stack to be designed on the Mobile Platform, stacked before their nose cones, which have, among other things, part of the booster separation system. The schedule for this package is unclear due to ongoing delays with the SLS rocket’s base stage. (submitted by platykurtic and Ken the Bin)
The next three launches
June 20: Vega | VV 16 rideshare service | Kourou, French Guiana | 01:51 UTC
June 23: Falcon 9 | Starlink-9 project | Cape Canaveral, Fla. | 21:58 UTC
June 30: Long March 3B | APStar-6D | Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China.| TBD