Enlarge /. An Ariane 5 rocket will launch on August 15, 2020.
Welcome to Issue 3.13 of the Missile Report!
This week's report is one of the longest ever as there seems to be a lot of news in the world of heavy haulage.
We're trying to cover everything from bad vibrations on the SLS rocket to the Raptor engine setting records.
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.
COVID-19 cases suspend activities at the Indian launch site. New regulations have been issued for ISRO's Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota that temporarily suspend all regular activities as the coronavirus pandemic spreads. Some employees have called for the facility to be closed completely, New Indian Express reports.
Locals on lockdown … The missile launch station on a barrier island in the Bay of Bengal will operate with minimal staff to carry out critical activities. All movements in and out of the employee's living area were strictly prohibited. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
PLD Space Targeting 2024 for reusable orbital launch. A report in the Spanish newspaper El Pais takes up the background of the start-up PLD Space. Founded in 2011 by Raúl Torres and Raúl Verdú. The company will first build the suborbital vehicle Miura 1 before working on the larger orbital missile Miura 5, which will be recovered and reused.
Taking steps into orbit … The company has raised approximately $ 21 million over the course of its life, the majority of which is from private sources. PLD Space estimates it will likely take around $ 100 million in total to hit the Miura 5's first launch. The company can test key technologies with the suborbital rocket. "First we create one that we can learn enough with and then do the last one," said Verdú. The company hopes to launch the smaller Miura 1 rocket next year. (submitted by Leika)
HyImpulse aims for the first launch in 2022. SpaceNews reports that another European rocket startup founded by engineers from the German space agency DLR is aiming for the maiden flight of a small launch vehicle with hybrid engines in late 2022. HyImpulse is developing a three-stage rocket that can carry 500 kg into a 400 km long orbit.
Simpler hardware? … According to Christian Schmierer, Co-CEO of HyImpulse, the 40-strong company is being financed by Rudolf Schwarz, the chairman of the German technology company IABG. HyImpulse has also received a $ 3 million grant from the European Commission to advance its launcher technology. HyImpulse tries to differentiate itself through the use of hybrid motors that run on paraffin-based fuel and liquid oxygen. (submitted by platykurtic, Ken the Bin and JohnCarter17)
NASA plans October 23 for the crew's next launch. NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission will be the first regular rotation mission to the space station upon completion of NASA certification, the agency said. Crew-1 will launch at the end of October to begin spacecraft traffic for the upcoming rotation of the Soyuz crew and to best meet the requirements of the International Space Station.
From two to four … The launch date is still pending until the data reviews and certification after NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 test flight are completed. The mission will carry Crew Dragon Commander Michael Hopkins, Pilot Victor Glover, and Mission Specialist Shannon Walker, all from NASA, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Mission Specialist Soichi Noguchi, for a six-month stay on the ISS . (submitted by JohnCarter17 and Ken the Bin)
SpaceX raises tons of money. SpaceX is on the verge of closing $ 2 billion in new funding after the company increased the round due to strong demand, according to Bloomberg, reports Bloomberg. The company did not comment.
The round of funding is oversubscribed … When the deal closes, the company will have an equity value of $ 46 billion, including the new $ 2 billion in capital, the release said. This makes SpaceX one of the most valuable US venture-backed companies. The funds will likely be used to support the company's Starship and Starlink projects. (submitted by Ken the Bin, JohnCarter17 and Rick S)
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Ariane V launches for the first time since the pandemic began. On Saturday, Arianespace launched two communications satellites and a satellite servicer on an Ariane 5 rocket, completing the company's first launch since the Guiana Space Center reopened in Kourou, French Guiana, SpaceNews reports.
Vega on deck … The launch was delayed for two weeks to replace a problematic sensor on the first stage of the rocket and was delayed again for a day because of the winds in the upper tier. The weather introduced a 34-minute delay before takeoff. Arianespace's next launch will be a long-awaited Vega mission on September 1st with 53 Smallsats, last postponed from June. (submitted by Ken the Bin and JohnCarter17)
SpaceX flies a Falcon 9 for the sixth time. Just in time for the schedule, a Falcon 9 rocket launched from Florida on Tuesday morning at 10:31 a.m. local time. When that first leg made its sixth flight, a record for smooth first legs, all appeared nominally for the mission. A few minutes later, the first stage of the Falcon 9 landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic, reports Ars.
Ready for seven? … The Starlink platform could eventually become a profitable business for SpaceX, although there is still a lot of work to be done on ground stations, receiving signals, complying with regulations, and more. What is undeniable, however, is that SpaceX has exceeded the limits of reuse by launching Starlink missions with its Falcon 9 rocket.
Musk talks about the reusability of Falcon 9. In a series of tweets this week, SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk reiterated that SpaceX will aim for 10 flights with every first stage of Falcon 9. Given the Block 5 upgrade of the Falcon 9 rocket's 37 successful launches to date, this suggests that the final version of the single-stick rocket has achieved the goals set for 2018, Teslarati reports.
A little more about turnaround work … Musk said the company almost never needs to replace an entire engine. On the other hand, some parts (such as turbine wheels) are sometimes changed. Regarding the limits for the Falcon 9, Musk added that more than 100 flights are possible, although some parts will need to be replaced or upgraded. Cleaning all nine Merlin turbines is difficult, he said. (submitted by danneely and Ken the Bin)
Northrop appears to have canceled the Omega missile. Earlier this week, Northrop sent staff an email saying they had finished development on the large Omega rocket, which was supposed to launch from Florida. However, the company made no public announcements until Thursday morning.
No Air Force, No Omega … The decision to quit Omega comes as no big surprise as the U.S. Air Force didn't select it for national safety launch contracts in the mid-2020s. These awards went to SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance. Northrop Grumman had talked about moving forward with no guaranteed customers – but that's not going to happen now.
The SLS rocket can wobble too much for Clipper to shake. At a meeting of NASA's Planetary Science Advisory Committee this week, Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said the Europa Clipper mission recently discovered compatibility issues related to the Space Launch System. According to SpaceNews, this is Congress's preferred vehicle to launch the Clipper spacecraft.
A valuable $ 4 billion spacecraft … "There were some issues that were only recently exposed," she said of Europa Clipper's use of SLS. Industry insiders reported to the publication that these compatibility issues likely affect the environment the spacecraft would be exposed to during launch, such as: B. Vibrations. If NASA doesn't want to launch the Clipper on the SLS, the alternative is SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. (submitted by BH and Ken the Bin)
Could a heavy hawk fly kites to the moon? In a feature story, Ars examines the political and technical dimensions behind the possibility of using the Crew Dragon spaceship and the Falcon Heavy rocket in the Artemis Moon mission. The rocket and spacecraft could provide an alternative to NASA's Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket for moving crews to and from lunar orbit.
But, but, but … Such a solution has advantages in terms of much lower cost, and the SpaceX vehicles have now proven themselves in flight. It wouldn't be trivial, however, to redesign Dragon to meet the needs of a longer space flight. And Congress is unlikely to fund such an approach as it wants to keep old jobs. At the very least, SpaceX seems like a good option for NASA to keep in their back pocket if there are further delays with the SLS rocket.
Northrop is testing the Vulcan Centaur Booster. According to SpaceNews, Northrop Grumman has completed the first qualification test for a new strap-on rocket engine being developed for the United Launch Alliance's future Vulcan Centaur vehicle. The 63-inch diameter graphite-epoxy motor known as the GEM 63XL was statically fired at Northrop Grumman's facility in Promontory, Utah.
That's a big booster … the engine fired for about 90 seconds, producing nearly 449,000 pounds of thrust to qualify the engine's internal insulation, propellant grain, ballistics, and nozzle. That is, according to Charlie Precourt, Northrop Grumman's vice president of propulsion systems. The GEM 63XL version is 72 feet long and will be flying the Vulcan Centaur rocket as early as 2021. (Submitted by Ken the Bin and JohnCarter17)
SpaceX is continuing with the Air Force's claim. SpaceX said in a court document filed on Wednesday that a legal complaint against the U.S. Air Force for assignments to United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin will continue in October 2018, SpaceNews reports. SpaceX reiterated its claim in a May 2019 protest that the Air Force had given other companies an unfair advantage by awarding them Launch Service Agreements and banning SpaceX.
According to SpaceX, the Air Force should end all contracts for 2018 … Earlier this month, the Air Force announced that SpaceX and ULA were selected as launch service procurement winners for Phase 2 of the National Security Room, with the ULA receiving 60 percent of national security launches has five years while SpaceX snapped 40 percent. SpaceX insists that Air Force Development Awards for 2018 did "irreparable harm" to SpaceX and gave ULA a key edge in winning the larger portion of Phase 2 launches. (submitted by platykurtic and JohnCarter17)
The Raptor engine sets chamber pressure records. While SpaceX is fine-tuning, testing and developing its Raptor rocket engine, the company is understandably putting the engine through its paces. This week, company founder Elon Musk published a graphic that shows the Raptor on a test bench and briefly achieves a main combustion chamber pressure of 330 bar during controlled combustion, reports Teslarati.
Raising the Bar … The publication reports that in the 1980s, the Soviet Union achieved the highest main combustion chamber well known to orbital-class missile technology outside of sub-scale laboratory testing with the RD-701 engine. The unique engine was discontinued before use, but reportedly reached pressures of 290-300 bar in one mode. Now Raptor has exceeded that by 10 percent. (submitted by Ken the Bin and JohnCarter17)
The next three starts
26th of August: Delta IV Heavy | NROL-44 | Cape Canaveral, Fla. | 05:50 UTC
August 27: Falcon 9 | SAOCOM 1B | Cape Canaveral, Fla. | 23:19 UTC
September 1: Vega C | Carpooling for 53 satellites | Kourou, French Guiana | 01:51 UTC