Rocket report: Virgin Galactic cleared to fly, Blue Origin “bet and lost”

Enlarge / Under the stars with the Ariane 6 launch base at the Europe spaceport in French Guiana.

Welcome to edition 4.18 of the Rocket Report! As always, it’s been a busy week in the elevator world, and as it draws to a close, so has September. With three months out of the year, will we see more orbital rocket debuts in 2021?

As always, we welcome to readers’ contributions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please register using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP versions of the site). Each report will include information on small, medium and large power rockets as well as a quick overview of the next three launches on the schedule.

FAA clears Virgin Galactic to resume flights. On Wednesday, the FAA announced that it had closed its investigation into the July 11 launch of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo vehicle. “The investigation revealed that the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo vehicle deviated from its assigned airspace as it descended from space,” the FAA said. The FAA also found that Virgin Galactic did not communicate the deviation to the FAA as required. Virgin Galactic was not authorized to conduct flight operations as the investigation was ongoing. The FAA asked Virgin Galactic to implement changes to the way it communicates with the FAA during flight operations to ensure public safety.Virgin Galactic has made the necessary changes and can resume flight operations.

Flying in larger airspaceVirgin Galactic said, for future flights, its protected airspace would be larger to “ensure that Virgin Galactic has sufficient protected airspace for a variety of possible flight paths during space flight missions.” The company will also take steps to ensure it communicates notifications to the FAA in real time. Virgin Galactic continues to say that its next space flight, named Unity 23, will take place no earlier than mid-October. This flight will carry members of the Italian Air Force. Something else to watch out for in October: employee stock options vest at the end of October. How many will take the money and run away? (submitted by rico.j and Ken the Bin)

The CEO of Aerospace Corp. said the small launch was “oversubscribed”. In a interview with SpaceDotBiz, Steve Isakowitz, President and CEO of the Aerospace Corporation, commented on the space markets that he believes have more supply than demand and cited the small industry of launches. “I think it’s been said that there are up to a hundred different companies trying to get into this industry. I think right now there are less than one. dozen that have the capital to be serious and maybe half of them are likely to give it a real try In some markets, we’re just going to see too much supply. “

Dedicated launch request? … The small launch industry is built on increased production of small satellites and a desire for dedicated launches, Isakowitz said. But the industry could go in other directions. “We’re looking at a lot of smaller satellites, and some of the big questions are whether it’s better to aggregate this market with bigger launchers or as secondary payloads on these vehicles,” he said. he declares.

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Honda will develop a small reusable rocket. In a press release Thursday, the company said, “This rocket development was initiated by the proposal made by young Honda engineers who wanted to build a small rocket using basic technologies, such as combustion and control technologies, which Honda has accumulated through the development of various products. ” It is expected to have a capacity of about 1 metric ton in low earth orbit.

Does the world need more rockets? … Honda says there are currently “not enough rockets available to meet the demand for satellite launches.” While this may be technically true at this precise moment, it’s hard to see that this is still the case whenever Honda succeeds in developing and launching a small, reusable rocket. I also wonder if these are automotive engineers guessing rocket science can’t be that hard. I can’t wait to follow Honda’s progress. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

OneSpace plans to launch from ships and trains. Chinese launch company OneSpace has released a new promotional video for its Linglong series of modular solid fuel rockets. The rocket appears to come with options for an upgraded top stage, as well as the ability to add two or even four strap boosters.

Boats and trains … The two-minute video highlights the modular nature of the rocket and how well it was designed for transport in freight containers. The video also shows the rocket being launched not only from standard launch sites, but from a boat and a train. This latter representation suggests that such a rocket could be used as an ICBM, although the company presumably markets it for commercial payloads. (submitted by AI)

RocketStar ready for second attempt at suborbital flight. New York-based RocketStar plans to launch its aerospike-powered rocket for the first time this fall, carrying a prototype satellite for resource mapping startup Lunasonde on a brief suborbital journey. The 12-meter rocket that RocketStar calls Cowbell aims to reach 21 km on its test flight, according to the latest NASA safety requirements, SpaceNews Reports. The rocket will fly from Launch Complex 48, a multi-purpose launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

From sea to land … Although RocketStar estimates this mission will last only eight minutes, Lunasonde expects that this will be enough time for its on-board underground radar imager to collect reflectance data. RocketStar had planned to launch Cowbell on its first suborbital launch in early 2019 to test what the company described as a proprietary aerospike engine. The delay was attributed to moving from an offshore launch pad to a shore launch pad. (submitted by Unrulycow and Ken the Bin)

Phantom Space claims $ 240 million satellite launch deal. Phantom Space, the company run by former Vector CEO Jim Cantrell, said it has entered into a “deal valued at $ 240 million to design, build and launch a constellation of 72 satellites” for an Internet company. objects called Ingenu. The partnership comes as Phantom Space seeks to lower barriers for new commercial applications in space, Fox Business Reports. The satellites are expected to be launched on Phantom’s Daytona launcher in late 2023.

Deere in the headlights … The story contains an interesting correction at the end. Apparently, someone claimed that Ingenu was a subsidiary of John Deere. “This article previously stated that Ingenu is a subsidiary of John Deere, but it is not. In a statement, Ingenu said that John Deere dealers, and to a lesser extent John Deere Corporate, are” aware of the Ingenu’s satellite initiatives in terms of the benefits these initiatives in conjunction with their technology can bring to their environment. ‘”We will leave it to readers to assess the viability of Phantom’s ability to make this deal happen.

First Axiom Mission Gets a Launch Date. NASA has said Axiom will launch its first private mission to the International Space Station, Ax-1, no earlier than February 21, 2022, Explored Space reports. The four passengers, who are expected to pay $ 55 million each, will travel to the station in a Crew Dragon vehicle.

On the way for the ride … The crew includes Michael López-Alegría; a former NASA astronaut and vice president of Axiom Space who will serve as mission commander. Larry Connor will be the pilot of the mission. Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe will travel to the station as mission specialists. This will be the first completely private mission to the space station. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

Fuel depot to be launched in about a year. Orbit Fab, a space-based refueling startup, will launch a propellant refueller into geostationary orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 lunar lander mission scheduled for late 2022 or early 2023. The payload will arrive in geostationary orbit on board of a Sherpa-ES orbital spaceflight transfer vehicle using a new “lunar flyby” trajectory that first makes the vehicle around the back of the Moon, SpaceNews Reports.

Deposit there, we said it … The company said its fuel depot will store around 100 kg of hydrazine. “We have already secured multi-million dollar contracts from the Space Force and the Air Force, which fund the qualification of refueling port flights,” CEO Dan Faber told the publication. The plan is to send “fuel shuttles” into orbit over the next two years. It is a step towards the storage and transfer of fuel in orbit, long considered a key enabling technology for sustainable spaceflight. (submitted by Ken the Bin).

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