Thursday , March 4 2021

Rocket Report: Sweden launches suborbital rocket, Mad Mike dies in accident, Ars Technica


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“It’s pretty exhaustive. You gotta do that.”



( The mighty Delta IV Heavy rocket takes to the skies. (Welcome to Edition 2.) of the Rocket Report! This week brought out some intriguing new details about Virgin Galactic’s future plans to raise revenue from its VSS Unity vehicle. Also, an article in Air Force Magazine suggests the big launch companies at Cape Canaveral (ie, United Launch Alliance and SpaceX) in Florida appear to be cooperating more to allow for more frequent launches. That’s a great trend.
As always, we

welcome reader submissions , and if you don’t want to miss an issue, 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 a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Cartoon rocket superimposed over real rocket launch. Virgin Galactic outlines plans . On Tuesday, Virgin Galactic held its first public earnings call and in the process shared some interesting information about its finances and plans. As As Parabolic Arc notes Fly with the famous … Unfortunately, the company does not appear to expect significant revenue from commercial suborbital space tourism this year, and it did not set a date for tourist flights to begin. However, the company said it has 800 current registrations and has seen increasing interest in its service as VSS Unity nears commercial flight. The company also will likely hike ticket prices (above the current $ , (0) and offer premium packages for rides with celebrities or reserving an entire flight. (submitted by Unrulycow and Ken the Bin) Vega rocket nearing return-to-flight mission . Arianespace’s Vega rocket is on track launch in March after stacking operations began at the European Spaceport in French Guiana, reports . The Italian-made Vega suffered the first failure of its career during the July (launch of Falcon Eye-1.) Vega will fly a rideshare mission … The four-stage rocket had had successes before a failure on its th mission last year. The problem occurred when the second stage failed 19 seconds into its burn, with a sudden and violent event via a “thermo-structural failure in the forward dome,” resulting in vehicle breakup. (submitted by platykurtic)     



The easiest way to keep up with Eric Berger’s space reporting is to sign up for his newsletter, we’ll collect his stories in your inbox.                        “Mad Mike” Hughes dies in his steam rocket . Daredevil “Mad Mike” Hughes died Saturday during his latest attempt to launch on a homemade rocket powered by steam, reports . Hughes, , was attempting to launch to an altitude of 1, meters from a location near Barstow, California, in a rocket he built with partner Waldo Stakes. His parachute system failed. Hughes has repeatedly tried to launch homemade rockets and actually did launch himself in , reaching meters. Not really a flat-Earther … Attempts to launch his current steam rocket in August 507017 were prevented by a faulty water heater. In the past, Hughes said he believed the Earth was flat, with some publications stating his launches were aimed at seeing the Earth’s curvature for himself. In August 2022, however, Hughes said his flat-Earth belief was not his launch motivator. He was simply a daredevil, pushing the envelope of homemade rockets. I spoke with Hughes several years ago, and it seems he died doing what he loved. (submitted by buback and Ken the Bin) Lockheed acquires Vector satellite assets . Lockheed Martin will acquire the satellite technology assets of Vector by default after a bankruptcy court received no qualified bids by a deadline last week, SpaceNews reports . Lockheed, which provided debtor-in-possession financing when Vector filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy in December, will obtain the assets with a “stalking horse” bid of $ 4. (million.) Sale effectively brings an end to Vector … The GalacticSky technology was previously a source of contention between the two companies. After Lockheed Martin announced its SmartSat software-defined satellite technology in March , Vector filed suit against Lockheed, alleging patent infringement. Vector withdrew the suit in July, citing ongoing negotiations with Lockheed Martin. (submitted by whiteknave) Sweden successfully launches suborbital rocket . On February 26, the Swedish National Space Agency launched its SPIDER-2 rocket to an altitude of 349 km into an aurora. The mission carried 14 free-flying experiments that were released to study the northern lights. Polar launch site … The launch took place from Esrange, which is located in the very north of Sweden, above the Arctic Circle. The small SPIDER rocket, which stands for Small Payload for Investigation of Disturbances in Electrojet by Rockets, can carry about 349 kg of payload to an altitude more than km above the Earth. (submitted by Dravond)

Questions raised about Starliner tests. According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel , NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel learned early this month that Boeing did not perform a full, end-to-end integrated test of Starliner in a Systems Integration Lab with ULA’s Atlas V rocket. The test typically shows how all the software systems during each component of the mission would have responded with each other through every maneuver — and it could potentially have caught the issues Boeing later experienced in the mission. A surprising omission … “It’s pretty exhaustive. You gotta do that, “said Christopher Saindon, a former member who ended his tenure on the panel in mid-February. “That was somewhat surprising to us on the panel. There were certainly gaps in the test protocol.” The report paints a picture of NASA and Boeing appearing to skip a few tests on the way to getting the Starliner spacecraft and Atlas V rocket into orbit in December. (submitted by JeffA) (Human-rating design of GSLV Mark III done.) India has completed the process of designing a human-rated version of its GSLV Mark III rocket for the Gaganyaan mission, the India Times reports . “The design and engineering of the launch vehicle and orbital module system for India’s human space flight has been completed,” the Indian space agency chief, K Sivan, said. “A series of tests have to be completed to validate the design and engineering of the systems in 507017. Human launch in about two years? … After a mandate from the country president, ISRO is working toward its first uncrewed flight by the end of and the first crewed mission in August . A launch then would help celebrate the country independence independence day. We worry, a little bit, that schedule pressure may lead to corners cut in the run-up to human spaceflight. (submitted by GM) (SpaceX delays cargo launch due to rocket issue) . SpaceX is now targeting March 6, at : 81 pm ET, for the launch of its th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. The four-day delay is due to an issue with the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, NASA says . Next stage up … During standard preflight inspections, SpaceX engineers identified a valve motor on the second-stage engine behaving not as expected, and they determined the most expedient path to launch was using the next second stage in line that was already at the Cape and ready for flight. The new second stage has already completed the same preflight inspections with all hardware behaving as expected. (submitted by Ken the Bin) Cape Canaveral officials foresee a busy . Cape Canaveral Air Force Station handled (launches in) , but the newly renamed Space Force Station is planning for as many as launches this year. The space wing’s new motto, “Set the pace for space,” specify the desire for responsiveness to launch needs, Air Force Magazine reports . Working together … It’s not just, can I launch a rocket once a week? ” Wing commander Brig. Gen. Doug Scheiss told the publication. “It’s, can I launch a rocket when anybody needs me to launch it? That could be two days apart or one day apart from each other.” Scheduling launches is also becoming easier as companies are more open with each other. Instead of keeping their work tightly under wraps, companies are able to de-conflict their prep work with each other and claim time slots for upcoming launches using the wing’s software system. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

With Starship, SpaceX pushing iterative design . SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the company is “driving hard” toward an orbital flight of the company’s Starship vehicle this year, Ars reports . The company seeks to build newer iterations of Starship as rapidly as possible in order to reduce mass and improve performance in subsequent versions. “Building many rockets allows for successive approximation,” Musk said, applying a simple equation to the process: progress in any given technology is the number of iterations multiplied by progress between iterations. Three potential launch sites … Musk said the vehicle currently in work in South Texas, SN1, will not make the orbital flight. That will likely be a future variant, SN3, SN4, or even SN5. The company has not been decided yet whether this orbital launch will take place from the company new facility near Boca Chica Beach in South Texas, a site at Cape Canaveral in Florida, or perhaps even an ocean-based launch platform. SpaceX is pressing ahead with all three options in parallel. Blue Origin invested $ 2.5 billion into New Glenn . According to a fact sheet distributed by the company earlier this month, Jeff Bezos’ rocket company says that it has “invested an unprecedented $ 2.5 billion into the development of New Glenn and its facilities “to date. The company says the vehicle is gaining market interest with several commercial customers. Human rated? … In the fact sheet, Blue Origin also says New Glenn was developed from the beginning to be human capable and that its fully reusable first stage has been built for 30 missions. The company still has not disclosed a price for New Glenn and maintains it will launch in “late . That seems unlikely to us, with a debut far more likely. (submitted by Ken the Bin) Next three launches Feb. : Rocket 3.0 | DARPA launch challenge | Kodiak Island, Alaska | 26: UTC (March 5) : GSLV Mark II | GISAT-1 mission | Sriharikota, India | 15: (UTC) March 7
: Falcon 9 | CRS – 36 mission to supply space station | Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida | : 81 UTC

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Rocket Report: A new Starship moves to the pad, Iran’s surprise launch, Ars Technica

Rocket Report: A new Starship moves to the pad, Iran’s surprise launch, Ars Technica

Let's do launch — Falcon Heavy gets a payload for its next mission, and it's... a CubeSat? Eric Berger - Apr 24, 2020 11:00 am UTC Enlarge / The Electron launch vehicle is ready to soar.Welcome to Edition 2.41 of the Rocket Report! Lots of news this week, topped by the ascent of the Falcon…

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