Enlarge /. Falcon 9 starts its most important mission yet: to put NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into orbit.
Welcome to Issue 3.03 of the Missile Report! We have just spent a week at the highest highs with the launch of Crew Dragon on Saturday and the lowest lows when this country's racist prejudices were exposed. Jeff Manber, CEO of Nanoracks, said it well: "The space community can and must do better to become part of the solution to the terrible challenges America is facing today." We agree.
As always, we look forward to readers' contributions. If you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear in AMP-enabled versions of the website). Each report contains information on small, medium and heavy duty rockets and a brief overview of the next three launches on the calendar.
Vega ready for the return to the flight mission. After an aircraft accident in July 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic, Arianespace has resumed preparations for the Vega missile's return to the mission. This launch will also demonstrate the usefulness of the missile as a ridesharing platform. The launch is scheduled for June 18 (local time), reports NASASpaceflight.com.
Spit out satellites … The Small Spacecraft Mission Service of the rocket is a modular dispenser that serves as an interface for a group of microsatellites and CubeSats. It should also be as responsive as possible to meet the needs of the growing market for institutional and commercial customers. (submitted by platykurtic and Ken the Bin)
Despite the explosion, the Exos engine tests "success". At the end of May, Exos Aerospace tested a new engine for its SARGE R2 rocket. The small company hoped for a 55-second test, but the test only took 15 seconds before it exploded. John Quinn, co-founder of the company, said the error was due to old ground equipment.
A tight budget … "We knew the test bench was nearing the end of its life," he said. During operation, however, the engine performed at the "upper end" of its design area and is said to have survived with minimal damage. Exos wants to build a small suborbital missile with only 20 employees, which would be remarkable – if it succeeds. (submitted by JohnCarter17)
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Germany starts microlauncher competition. According to the German space agency, a maximum of five start-ups will each be equipped with around $ 560,000. After this design phase, the winners will be selected by an expert jury based on technical, economic and operational criteria.
Better on the move … Two finalists will each receive approximately $ 12.5 million for the development and qualification of their missiles and two demonstration starts. Funding for the competition is provided by the European Space Agency, which should be fun. Completing demonstration flights by 2023, as stated in the announcement, appears to be really ambitious.
Rocket Lab sets the next start date. According to SpaceNews, Rocket Lab will resume launching its small Electron launcher in June as the coronavirus pandemic wears off at its New Zealand launch site. The company has postponed the start of "Don & # 39; t Stop Me Now" for June 11 (local time) from its starting location on the New Zealand Mahia Peninsula.
Lord of the Pandemic Response … The new launch date has been announced because New Zealand has slowed its response to the pandemic. The island nation returned to alert level 2 of its response plan on May 29, allowing larger gatherings of people, as the country has reported only a handful of new cases of COVID-19 since the middle of the month. (submitted by JohnCarter17 and Ken the Bin)
The long March 11 starts in Xichang. China's Smallsat Launcher, the Long March 11 booster, launched two experimental technology satellites into orbit on Saturday. The country's state intelligence service reported that it was the first time Long March 11 had been launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
Solids all the way … The Long March 11 has a lifting capacity of approximately 700 kg to Earth orbit and is the only Long March rocket that uses only solid rocket motor technology. Previously, the Long March-11 was launched primarily from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China and once from a mobile platform in the Yellow Sea. (submitted by JohnCarter17)
Branson Holding sells more Virgin shares. According to Bloomberg, Richard Branson's Vieco 10 holding sold a block of 12.3 million shares to Virgin Galactic Holdings. The offer corresponds to 16 percent of the public free float of the share on February 26, the publication said. As of May 22, Vieco 10 held 89.8 million shares in Virgin Galactic.
Saving Business … Branson sold 25 million shares worth more than $ 300 million last month. He did this to strengthen his portfolio of global leisure, vacation and travel companies affected by the "unprecedented" effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. (submitted by JohnCarter17)
Falcon 9 starts people for the first time. The Falcon 9 rocket had launched 84 times before Saturday. In fact, no U.S. missile that flies has fired as much as the Falcon 9 missile. In this sense, another start on Saturday was routine. For the first time, the Falcon 9 rocket carried two people aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft. That changed everything, Ars reported. The launch and ascent to the International Space Station was completely successful.
Moving fast … Before Saturday, only the national space programs of Russia, the United States and China had put people into orbit. SpaceX has now joined this exclusive club with funding from NASA and substantial help. "SpaceX and Elon delivered everything NASA asked them to do, at a rate that we would never have guessed," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine after the launch, noting the company's attention to the commercial crew in the past eight months.
SpaceX lands the same first stage booster for the fifth time. Just four days after the company's historic Crew Dragon mission, a Falcon 9 rocket launched with a payload of 60 satellites from Florida on Wednesday evening. The second stage brought them into orbit, while the first stage returned to Earth and landed on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship, reports Ars.
Try and try again … This was the second time that SpaceX had tried five times to fly a Falcon 9 first stage. During the first attempts in March, the missile suffered an engine failure en route to orbit. While the main mission was successful (despite shutting down one of its engines), the first stage failed to land a drone ship. SpaceX later attributed the problem to a solution to clean the engines between flights. It is noteworthy that NASA SpaceX has already approved the use of flight-tested boosters for future crew missions. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
Leak in the Fregat camp in Kourou. The Fregat upper stage manufactured in Russia is used for the Soyuz rocket. According to TASS, French officials recently discovered a toxic oxidant leak in the Fregat booster camp in Kourou, French Guiana. From there, a Europeanized version of the Soyuz rocket launches. It was not clear whether startup hardware was affected.
Russians on the move … The report says that Russian specialists will be deployed to the site in early June to investigate the situation on the ground and take the necessary measures. Two Soyuz starts with the Fregat upper stage are expected from Kourou in autumn, provisionally in September and October. (submitted by Ken the Bin and JohnCarter17)
An alligator and a dragon enter a block. During SpaceX's first attempt to launch the Crew Dragon spacecraft on May 27, an unauthorized visitor was to the launch pad. A few hours before the start, an alligator wandered through the security gate onto the Launch Complex-39A, reports WGN9.
Gator is gone … "There are alligators that end up in the craziest places," said alligator wrangler Frank Robb. "They still have the ponds on the pad that they use to cool the pads … they're natural ponds in this safe area where alligators are constantly landing." However, it was not too difficult to grab the intruder. "I put him on a rope, caught him and he loaded into the truck pretty easily," said Robb. (submitted by danneely)
Another Starship prototype is booming. Last Friday, SpaceX prepared its latest version of the Starship prototype, known as Serial No. 4 or SN4, for a static fire test in Texas before. The Raptor motor seemed to fire nominally for a few seconds and shut down as planned. However, about a minute after the engine was turned off, there was some kind of uncontrolled gas leak, and a minute later the vehicle exploded almost instantly – a really quick, quick, unscheduled disassembly, reports Ars.
SN5, SN6 are waiting in the starting blocks … The company founder Elon Musk later explained that an unexpected problem with the quick connector occurred at the starting point. With a lot of hardware being built in South Texas, the limiting factors for the next round of testing could be the company's ability to build a second test bed and convince the Federal Aviation Administration to understand and fix the problem.
The next three starts
June 11th: Electron | "Don't stop me now" Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand 04:43 UTC
17th of June: Long March 2D | Gaofen 9-03 | Jiuquan, China. | 07:25 UTC
June 19: Vega | Carpool | Kourou, French Guiana | 01:51 UTC
Note: There are other short-term starts without exact dates.