Enlarge /. Rocket Lab's recovery ship, Catch of the Day, is approaching the first stage of the electron rocket.
Welcome to issue 3.24 of the missile report! It's December and we've seen a number of big Smallsat launches this month, including Virgin Orbit and Astra. But in the near future, our eyes are on South Texas, where a Starship prototype is set to make a big leap early next week.
As always, we look forward to readers' contributions. If you don't want to miss out on an issue, please subscribe to it using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the website). Each report includes information on small, medium and heavy-duty missiles, as well as a brief overview of the next three launches on the calendar.
Aevum introduces its Ravn X launch system. So far, Aevum has largely operated in the background. But now it's ready to show off hardware, and it's beginning the first phase of the Ravn X launch system, Ars reports. This autonomous aircraft and launch vehicle is 24 meters long and has a wingspan of 18 meters. It has a gross take-off weight of 25,000 kg – massive for an unscrewed aircraft. It will drop a rocket capable of launching 100 kg into sun-synchronous orbit.
I want to turn satellite delivery into a commodity … The company is planning to launch for the first time next year. While the first stage of the Ravn X was still being completed, Aevum was developing a rocket with two liquid-powered engines for the main stage, each containing 5,000 pounds of thrust and a single upper-stage engine. In addition to their burns, these engines have been tested for fire and, according to the company, have passed qualification and acceptance tests. Aevum claims to have signed more than $ 1 billion worth of launch deals over the next decade, including the Air Force's ASLON-45 mission.
Virgin Orbit sets the date for the second attempt at launch. On Monday, Virgin Orbit announced it would attempt a second orbital flight of its LauncherOne rocket on Saturday, December 19. The four-hour window opens at 10 a.m. (6 p.m. UTC). During the company's first demo flight last May, the missile was successfully dropped from its carrier aircraft and the engine fired for a few seconds before LOX went out due to a blocked line.
This time there will be a customer … This mission did not carry any payloads, but this one will. As part of its Venture Class Launch Services program, NASA is offering nine CubeSat missions that include a total of 10 spacecraft to fly on the Launch Demo 2 mission. The company said it had to do a dress rehearsal before attempting to launch. Good luck! (submitted by Ken the Bin)
The easiest way to keep up with Eric Berger's space coverage is to sign up for his newsletter. We will collect his stories in your inbox.
The relativity space adds $ 500 million in funding to the fund. The launch company, which plans to 3D print almost the entire rocket, announced that it closed the major Series D funding round in late November. This brings the company's valuation to $ 2.3 billion, reports CNBC. This makes the company the second most important private space company after SpaceX.
Heaps of money … "This greatly accelerates the dynamic and scaling of Relativity as we focus on production and various infrastructure expansion projects beyond the initial launch," said Ellis. We can confirm that this is a lot of private funding for a missile company, especially before their first attempt at launch. This can only help Relativity stick to its aggressive launch schedule for 2021. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
Rocket Lab says the stadium has been restored to "good condition". Ten days after launching the Return to Sender mission, Rocket Lab released an update on its first attempt to restore a first stage electron rocket. "We couldn't have asked for a better result on our first attempt at recovery and the team is thrilled." The missile came back in such good condition, the company added, "We're going to re-qualify some components and re-fly."
Not yet ready for a helicopter … The November 20 flight marked the first time Rocket Lab had fished an electron from the Pacific, reports Ars. The missile was picked up in the waters off the coast of New Zealand, from where the small booster starts. Founder Peter Beck said the company plans to assess the condition of the first stage and make the necessary changes to the heat shield and flight software before moving on to the final step of catching the electron rocket in midair with a helicopter. This could happen next year after further testing.
Billionaire invests in Shetland Spaceport. Anders and Anne Holch Povlsen are investing £ 1.5 million (US $ 2 million) in a proposed spaceport in the Shetland Islands north of Scotland, the BBC reports. The couple's company, Wildland Ltd., is also taking legal action to end the building permit for Space Hub Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands.
NIMBY, rocket issue … The Danish couple, who own a clothing retail empire, also own thousands of acres in Sutherland and other highlands. The Povlsens have raised concerns about the impact of the Sutherland Space Hub on the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Special Protection Area. This seems like a pretty bold attempt to bolster the financial case for the Shetland location and divert investment and support away from the Sutherland location. (submitted by BH)
Vector's Jim Cantrell is back. The cofounder of the rocket company Vector tacitly founded Phantom Space, a new company to provide microsatellite launch services as well as small satellites and propulsion systems, reports the Arizona Daily Star. Cantrell told the publication that he was convinced they would start another satellite technology company from Michael D & # 39; Angelo, a former colleague at Vector, after they assumed they could leverage the many lessons they had received from Vector . Phantom is currently building four launch vehicles and is hoping to launch its first orbital flight in about two years.
Make a fool of me for once … Cantrell said Phantom had a broader view of the developing new space industry, fueled by the rapid development of tiny satellites for research and communications. Rather than starting a vertically integrated company that builds everything from the ground up, Phantom is integrating existing technology – specifically proven production engines for its launch vehicles – into systems to serve its customers. "We're a space transportation company," said Cantrell. "When we think about the future, we don't know what the killer app is. One thing we do know is that people have to send their objects into space and have to be moved and sometimes brought back." We will wait. (submitted by platykurtic and Ken the Bin)
NASA, SpaceX on the way to the next cargo launch. The space agency announced that it is aiming for SpaceX's 21st commercial supply mission to the International Space Station on Saturday, December 5th. However, weather officials from the US Air Force's 45th space wing forecast only a 40 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Cargo Dragon spacecraft launch from the Kennedy Space Center.
Rocket lofting its second ISS mission … This is the first mission under the company's second Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA and the first flight of the upgraded cargo version of Dragon 2. This flight will reuse the same first stage Falcon 9 who launched the crewed Demo 2 mission in May sent Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the space station. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
H3 missile debut delay confirmed. According to SpaceNews, the first launches of the new Japanese H3 launcher are delayed due to problems with two components of the rocket's main engine. JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the prime contractor for the H3, had set a goal of holding the first launch by the end of 2020 before problems were discovered in May.
You need to watch out for the FTP sheets … now, the rocket's debut will happen sometime in Japan's fiscal year 2021, starting April 1, 2021. The problems were identified with the combustion chamber and the turbo pump of the new LE-9 engine. "Fatigue fracture areas were confirmed in the opening area of the combustion chamber inner wall and the FTP blade of the turbo pump," says JAXA. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
Russian spaceport officials are being fired left and right. Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has continued a series of shots that resulted in many of the country's top spaceport officials fired, arrested, or both. Most recently, on November 27, Rogozin dismissed the head of the Center for the Use of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure, which manages all Russian spaceports. Andrei Okhlopkov, the head of this Roscosmos subsidiary, had previously received a reprimand from Rogozin for "repeated defects in his work".
Wait, there's more … Earlier this month, Vladimir Zhuk, chief engineer of the center that manages Russian spaceports, was arrested. Several other key officials related to the Vostochny Cosmodrome, who have been under development since 2011 and aim to reduce Russia's dependence on Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome, were also recently fired. The spaceport has sunk into corruption almost since construction began, reports Ars.
NASA confirms the return of the Centaur booster from the 1960s. Scientists have confirmed that Near-Earth Object 2020 SO is actually a Centaur rocket booster from the 1960s. Analysis of SO's orbit in 2020, first discovered in September, found that the object had come close to Earth a few times over the decades. An approach in 1966 brought it close enough to suggest that it may have come from Earth. That time coincided with the launch of the Surveyor 2 mission to the moon in 1966, NASA said.
Use of Spectral Data … To confirm this, a team led by Vishnu Reddy, Associate Professor and Planetary Researcher at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, performed spectroscopic follow-ups of 2020 SO using a NASA telescope in Maunakea, Hawaii, by . Reddy's team watched another Centaur D rocket booster long enough to get a good spectrum. The rocket came from a launch in 1971 and had delivered a communications satellite that was in geostationary transfer orbit. With this new data, Reddy and his team were able to compare it to 2020 SO and found that the spectra matched one another. Thus 2020 SO was finally classified as a Centaur rocket amplifier. (submitted by Tfargo04)