Enlarge /. A special 747-400 aircraft will propel Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet before being released into orbit for its rocket-propelled flight.
Welcome to issue 3.28 of the Missile Report, our very first in 2021, and a Happy New Year for what promises to be a great year for Missiles! We're starting January as busy as possible with a hot-fire test of the Space Launch System, likely another spacecraft flight, followed by a second orbital attempt by LauncherOne.
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.
Virgin Orbit sets the date for the second attempt at launch. After postponing its mission to launch Demo 2 from December due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Virgin Orbit announced a new window opening from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. (3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. UTC) on Wednesday January 13th at. Should there be a problem, the company said they have additional options later in the month.
On our way into orbit … "With COVID-19, a constant subject of observation, we are testing more often than ever and using every approach available to protect everyone's health. The numbers in our local communities are still severe – please stay safe and cover your faces! ”the company added in a separate tweet. The company, after its first attempt in May 2020, to wish good luck, stayed behind shortly after the failure of a liquid oxygen supply. (submitted by JohnCarter17)
Rocket Lab will begin its first launch in 2021. The company announced that the 10-day launch window for its next "Another Leaves the Crust" mission will open on January 16. This special mission for the European space company OHB Group will orbit a single communications microsatellite that will enable certain frequencies to support future services from space.
First of a dozen flights? … The mission starts from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the New Zealand peninsula Māhia. Rocket Lab will not attempt to restore Electron to the first stage for this mission. Rocket Lab's honcho Peter Beck previously told Ars that he expects his company to launch about a dozen missions this year, nearly doubling the total from seven last year. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
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Expect lots of small rocket debuts this year. As part of a larger preview of space travel in 2021, Ars noted the spate of launch activity with small satellites on the horizon. Firefly's alpha booster was due to fly in the first half of this year. At some point, the US startup ABL Space Systems should present its RS1 rocket. During a recent interview with Ars, Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space reiterated that his company is on track to debut its Terran 1 rocket in late 2021.
Don't forget the overseas boosters … Internationally, there should be some small rocket premieres too. India is expected to fly its Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) for the first time in the first quarter of 2021. The next-generation European Vega C rocket should now launch in mid-2021 after some delays. One or more of China's myriad of small launch companies will certainly debut missiles this year as well. This should make for a fun start year!
SpinLaunch expands test site in New Mexico. The California-based company expects to conduct the first suborbital tests of a prototype of its centrifugal system for launching small satellites from New Mexico later this year, SpaceNews reports. The company has so far raised $ 80 million to develop a mass accelerator that will serve as a practical first stage of a small satellite launch system.
Spinning into space … SpinLaunch said it plans to hire 59 more people at the site "and complete construction of its centrifugal launch system for the next phase of development". Objects fired from the centrifuge reach a speed of Mach 5 and reach an altitude of approximately 100 kilometers before landing in White Sands. These tests could begin some time in 2021, company officials said. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
First company of the Indian firm. Skyroot Aerospace said it successfully tested a solid rocket stage called the Kalam-5, which is a demonstrator for a larger rocket. According to the Business Standard, this is the first time that a private Indian company has successfully developed, developed and tested a fixed propulsion rocket stage. "The test results were closely in line with our predictions and this success gives great confidence to our Vikram-I vehicle development," said Pawan Kumar Chandana, co-founder and CEO of Skyroot.
Fundraising and Flying in 2021 … The company plans to test the third stage of its Vikram-1 rocket and plans to roll out a full vehicle by the end of this year. Skyroot was founded by engineers and scientists who previously worked for the Indian space program ISRO. An additional $ 15 million is currently being raised. (submitted by JohnCarter17 and Ken the Bin)
The Canadian balloon launch start-up receives a CSA grant. The Canadian space agency awarded $ 500,000 to a Toronto-based startup company, SpaceRyde, as part of a technology development program last year. The funds will be used to develop a rocket nozzle for the company's small satellite launch system.
In the air … The new thing about SpaceRyde is that the company is trying to launch a rocket from a balloon that hangs over the lower atmosphere. During a test in 2019, the company demonstrated a balloon system that stabilized nearly seven miles above the surface of the earth. If SpaceRyde is working on a rocket engine nozzle, it probably still has some way to go before an initial launch. (submitted by Delta Oscar Golf)
Reusable missiles went mainstream in 2020. As the year progressed, it became apparent that SpaceX launch customers were much more comfortable flying the used or "flight-proven" first stages of the Falcon 9 rocket. Commercial customer Sirius launched its XM-7 satellite in December on the seventh flight of a Falcon 9 booster. NASA has also agreed to fly people with used rockets, and the Space Force will put their GPS satellites on them as well, Ars reports.
Other companies were also interested … In particular, Rocket Lab also restored the first stage of Electron for the first time. "When we look back at 2020, we'll say this year was a turning point," said Randy Kendall, vice president of startup and corporate operations for The Aerospace Corporation, in an interview. "Commercial, civil and national security missions have all signaled their intention to use previously flown missiles to fly their most valuable payloads."
SpaceX receives order to launch SDA satellites. The Californian company has received a contract worth 150.4 million US dollars to launch up to 28 satellites for the Pentagon's space agency, the Space Development Agency. That includes 20 communications satellites known as the transport layer and the other eight are missile warning satellites known as the tracking layer, SpaceNews reports.
Best Value Wanted … SpaceX will launch these satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base, and the agency estimates the satellites will be ready to fly by the end of 2022. In its October call for tenders on the contracts, the agency announced that it would select a provider that offered "best value" based on various criteria such as price, schedule and past performance. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
China plans 40 launches in 2021. China's largest aerospace company, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), plans to launch more than 40 orbital launches in 2021, including the launch of a space station module and manned space missions, SpaceNews reports.
Not all made it … the country attempted 39 launches in 2020, of which CASC carried out 34. Four of the country's launches did not reach orbit, including two from CASC and two from private companies. Several private launch attempts are also likely in 2021, including that of the LandSpace Zhuque-2 rocket with methane and liquid oxygen. (submitted by Ken the Bin)