Enlarge /. SpaceX has launched the Falcon 9 88 times, including 11 in 2020.
Welcome to Issue 3.06 of the Missile Report! On Saturday, the Americans celebrate July 4th with absurdly small solid rockets. However, readers of this report will know that it is worth celebrating with rockets every day of the year. And there's a lot of news this week, so let's get started.
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.
The weather forces a very long delay when Vega starts. European rocket company Arianespace has been trying to launch a Vega rocket with dozens of small satellites for almost a year. Most recently, unfavorable winds in the upper level sunk three different start attempts at the end of June. On Wednesday, Arianespace appeared to be throwing up his hands in frustration and postponing the flight to August 17, "when the forecast is likely to be more favorable due to the modeling of the winds."
OK, it wasn't just weather … A seven-week weather-related delay seems excessive, so Ars dug a little further. The forecast for the next week or the next 10 days looks rough in terms of higher winds. After this time, the batteries on board the vehicle (and some of the payloads) must be recharged. This would delay an Ariane 5 launch scheduled for July 28. As a result, Vegas flight return mission was stalled.
DoD withdraws orders for small starts. That was fast. On June 16, the Department of Defense announced it had selected Aevum, Astra, X-Bow, Rocket Lab, Space Vector, and VOX Space to receive non-competitive contracts to launch two ridesharing services for government customers over the next 24 months. The department overturned the decision on Wednesday.
Justification required … According to SpaceNews, several industry sources have found that the selection of the six companies has generated widespread criticism, as it is unclear how these suppliers were selected from others. If contracts are awarded without an open competition, DoD is required by law to submit a "justification and approval document" that explains why a contract comes from a single source. In this case, no such documents were submitted. (submitted by Trimeta, JohnCarter17 and Ken the Bin)
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Firefly is now targeting mid-October for alpha launch. In a recent interview, Firefly founder Tom Markusic said the company had lost a month due to a fire in January and possibly a month or two due to COVID-19. "The plan is now mid-October this year, which is a few months earlier," he told Connectivity Business about the first launch of the Alpha rocket. "Overall, I think we were very lucky with both incidents that we were no longer reset."
Material is coming in, rocket parts are going out … During the interview, Markusic said the vertical integration of the company had helped limit the time Firefly lost through the pandemic. "We had some interruptions in the material supply, especially the composites, which delayed us a bit, but I think the vertical integration really helped us, as opposed to just branding the material and assembling, waiting for finished boxes, to come in the mail, "he said.
SpaceShipTwo makes the second gliding flight to New Mexico. Virgin Galactic conducted its second test flight of its suborbital SpaceShipTwo vehicle on June 25 from its spaceport in New Mexico. The company is now ready to resume spacecraft engine flights, reports SpaceNews. "It was an important test that means that until the data is verified, we can now start preparing the vehicles for powered flight," said George Whitesides, managing director of Virgin Galactic.
Testing handling conditions … The company charged this flight as a "high speed test" from SpaceShipTwo, with the spacecraft reaching speeds of up to Mach 0.85 during the descent. The higher speed was developed to test how the vehicle drives in conditions closer to powered flight. Virgin Galactic also said it will reveal the interior of the spaceship on July 28 (submitted by Ken the Bin, platykurtic and JohnCarter17).
The Australian company is testing its rocket engine. Queensland-based Gilmour Space Technologies announced at the end of June that it had successfully completed a 45-second hot fire on its top-tier hybrid rocket engine. "This has been our longest and most efficient test brand to date," said Adam Gilmour, CEO and co-founder of Gilmour Space.
A growing company … The company is developing hybrid propulsion technology to power its "Eris" orbital rocket. Gilmour, which claims to have 50 employees, has set itself the goal of launching its rocket in 2022. His short-term goals include tests of his guidance, navigation and control systems at low altitudes, as well as a static fire test of his first. Stage motor. (submitted by Ken the Bin)