Wed. Sep 28th, 2022
Wide angle view of a rocket launch from a grassy field.
enlarge Firefly tests the first stage of his Alpha rocket.

Welcome to edition 3.17 of the Rocket Report! Weather and technical issues permitting, we’re looking at a busy weekend in Florida, with a Delta IV Heavy booster in the starting blocks early Saturday, followed by a Falcon 9 launch Sunday morning. In the meantime, check out all the booster news below.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss any issue, please register using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-compatible versions of the site). Each report includes information on small, medium and heavy rockets, as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

New Shepar scrubs launch attempt† On Thursday, Blue Origin scrubbed the first launch attempt of its first New Shepard rocket since December 2019. The mission was to fly several commercial payloads and some moon landing technology for NASA. “We identified a potential problem with the experiments’ power supply,” Blue origin listed† The company added that it would attempt to launch again on Friday, September 24 at 15:00 UTC.

Things have been going slow, but … Some people have come to take a ho-hum attitude towards New Shepard because it takes so long to get up and running for humans and it’s “just” a suborbital system. but if I sketched on Twitter“I think this is still an exciting program, and it really takes time to certify that a system capable of launching cargo can do it safely for humans too. (submitted by Tfargo04 and Ken the Bin)

ISRO plans two launches in November† After nine months of resignation, largely due to COVID-19 issues at the country’s primary spaceport, the Indian Space Research Organization is planning two launches of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in November, The New India Express reports. According to the publication, the PSLV-C49 and PSLV-C50 missions are now targeted for that month.

It is best not to suppress information … This schedule is tentative and based on effective containment of the virus as workers return to work at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota. Employees must report immediately if their family members undergo a virus test. “Information suppression will be looked at seriously and action will be taken,” the spaceport told employees. (submitted by Ken the Bin and JohnCarter17)

The easiest way to keep up to date with Eric Berger’s space reporting is to sign up for his newsletter, we’ll be collecting his stories in your inbox.

German rocket company wants to disrupt European launch† The co-founder of German rocket company Isar Aerospace said he believes the European launch industry, led by the state-backed Arianespace, is ripe for disruption. “Europe is where the US launch industry was 15 years ago,” Daniel Metzler, co-founder and chief executive of the Munich-based company, said in an interview with Ars.

Serving a growing market? …Isar grew from 25 to 100 employees this year and is aiming for a 2022 launch for its “Spectrum” rocket, which is designed to launch up to 1,000 kg into low Earth orbit. The company has not set a price per launch, but is aiming for a competitive price of 10,000 euros ($11,700) per kilogram. The company believes there is a growing number of European companies and other groups seeking affordable access to space for small satellites.

Firefly performs a successful first-stage test† On Saturday, the Texas-based rocket company conducted a test of the first stage of its Alpha rocket. The four Reaver engines performed thrust vector control maneuvers for 35 seconds. Firefly described the test as an important step in Firefly’s advance toward maiden flight. That can already be done in November. †video here

A deep dive into Firefly’s owner … Firefly’s mysterious Ukrainian financier who saved the company from bankruptcy, Max Polyakov, has sparked controversy in the aerospace industry for a business portfolio of spicy dating sites. However, a new feature from Bloomberg Businessweek offers some perspective on Polyakov and his interest in space. Worth your time. (submitted by Ken de Bin)

Launching two suborbital rockets from Australia† Australian small satellite launch company Southern Launch said it has completed two polar suborbital launches in a row on a Dutch-designed two-stage DART rocket, SpaceWatch.Global reports. The launches, from the Koonibba Test Range northwest of Ceduna in South Australia, were separated by a period of just 1 hour 40 minutes.

Getting the audience excited … “We as Australians have accomplished something incredible today, as today in Koonibba, Australia, the first small step was taken to be a proud nation with space once again,” said Lloyd Damp, CEO of Southern Launch. This appears to have been an attempt to spark public interest in Australia as the company hopes to develop its own orbital rockets in the future. (submitted by Cognac)

OneWeb and Arianespace to restart launches† After emerging from a period of financial uncertainty, OneWeb says it plans to once again launch satellites into low Earth orbit, aiming to provide high-speed internet from space. Prior to bankruptcy, the company planned to launch 18 more missions on European Soyuz rockets before the end of 2021, deploying a constellation of 648 satellites.

Flipping from the Ariane 6 …Now, under an amended agreement, Arianespace will offer 16 additional launches between December 2020 and the end of 2022. The revised contract canceled two Soyuz launches and also removed OneWeb as the customer for the inaugural Ariane 6 launch, SpaceNews reports. According to OneWeb, Arianespace plans to begin commercial services by the end of 2021 for regions such as the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland and Canada. (submitted by Ken the Bin, Tfargo04, platykurtic and JohnCarter17)

China may see commercial space as key† A new study from the U.S. Air Force university think tank, titled “China’s Space Narrative,” assesses China’s use of soft power and diplomacy as potentially powerful weapons that could undermine the United States. One of the topics it focuses on is the potential of commercial space in the coming years, reports SpaceNews.

Jealous of SpaceX … Chinese analysts, according to the report, see the US commercial space sector – and especially SpaceX – as role models that Chinese companies should emulate. China sees the US commercial space industry as a major advantage for the United States. The report says that China’s private commercial sector faces many challenges, including a lack of a supportive policy environment and the central government’s preference over the state sector. (submitted by JohnCarter17)

UAE Satellite Launch Delayed Again† The launch of Russia’s Soyuz-ST missile with the UAE’s Falcon Eye 2 satellite from the Kourou launch facility in French Guiana, scheduled for October, has been postponed to early November, Russia’s state-run TASS news agency reported. No reason was given for the additional delay.

Everything slips away … The launch of the UAE satellite was originally scheduled for March 6, but was delayed by a day due to problems with the Frigate upper stage of the rocket. Later, the UAE and Arianespace decided to replace the stage and postpone the launch. As the novel coronavirus pandemic continued to gain momentum, all work on the Kourou launch facility has been suspended and the mission has again been postponed. After this, the launch was scheduled for October. (submitted by JohnCarter17)

Starship blows its top† On Wednesday morning — early Wednesday morning, just before 5 a.m. local time in South Texas — SpaceX finally managed to detonate a test tank for its Starship project. The so-called SN 7.1 tank was built to test a new steel alloy that SpaceX engineers say will be stronger for the spaceship and super-heavy vehicles. The failure was intentional.

Watching the top doll … The good folks at NASASpaceflight.com have video footage of the bang, which happened after the tank came under pressure. So far, SpaceX has not revealed what pressure the tank was under before it popped. Now, the focus at the company’s Boca Chica site will be on preparing SN 8 — a full-size prototype with flaps, nose cone and three Raptor engines — for a flight campaign. It could roll to the launch site today. That will be something to see.

Weather looks good for a Delta IV Heavy launch attempt† Weather conditions this weekend should be favorable for a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy mission, marking the three-core missile’s third attempt to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida Today reports. The updated forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of “go” conditions.

Three times is right? …If the schedules are correct, the rocket will take off from Launch Complex 37 at 12:14 a.m. EDT Saturday (04:14 UTC), which will feature a National Reconnaissance Office satellite for intelligence gathering. The main concerns revolve around clouds. Two previous launch attempts at the end of August were canceled due to technical problems. The first occurred when pneumatic problems in ground equipment forced teams to resign; the second was caused by a ruptured diaphragm in a pressure regulator seconds before launch. (submitted by JohnCarter17)

NASA invites media to SLS Green Run test† On Wednesday, the space agency opened media registry for access to the first test firings of the Space Launch System core phase. As part of the invitation, NASA said the test was expected to take place “in early November.” Ars plans to be there.

A key test … This will be a big moment for NASA and Boeing, the prime contractor in the core phase, who spent years building the large liquid-hydrogen and liquid-oxygen tanks and the engine section that will house four main engines of the space shuttle . On a nominal test, the rocket will fire for about eight minutes to simulate an ascent into Earth orbit. If the booster passes the test, it will be shipped to Florida for a possible launch in late 2021. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

Next three launches

Sept 26: Delta IV Heavy | NROL-44 | Cape Canaveral, Florida | 04:14 GMT

27 Sept: Falcon 9 | Starlink-12 mission| Kennedy Space Center, Florida | 14:43 UTC

September 28: Soyuz | Three Gonets satellites | Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia| 11:20 UTC

By akfire1

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