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Home / Science / Rocket Report: Firefly to the Moon, SpaceX makes a splash, H3 nets a customer

Rocket Report: Firefly to the Moon, SpaceX makes a splash, H3 nets a customer

  Cartoon rocket superimposed on the launch of a real rocket.

Welcome to the 1.28 edition of the Rocket Report! A lot of news this week, and many of these are good, with Stratolaunch having achieved an important test, Firefly won a sweet contract from NASA and the H3 got its first commercial flight. All in all, a nice launch week.

As always, we welcome the readers' presentations and, if you do not want to miss a problem, please sign up using the box below (the form will not appear in the site's AMP-enabled versions). Each report will include information on small, medium and heavy rockets and a quick look at the next three launches on the calendar.

Branson says that Virgin will reach the space before Christmas . The entrepreneur behind Virgin Galactic told CNN Business at the end of November that he was "confident enough" that his space tourism adventure could reach its goal by the end of the year. "Obviously I'd like to try our wrong criticisms, and I'm pretty confident that before Christmas, we'll do it," said Richard Branson. The VSS Unity spacecraft was previously brought to 32 miles.

First test pilots … Branson reiterated that he intends to fly into space on one of the first flights (space, in this case, means to break an altitude of 50 miles). The pilots will test the first few missions, but then he and some members of his family will fly before the customers who have paid the tickets will go. Branson still believes that Virgin Galactic will reach space with people before Blue Origin does it. Stop us if you have already heard this.

The New York company has a long view of the launch of smallsat . The launcher Launcher stated to SpaceNews that he hired his chief designer Igor Nikishchenko, who has more than 30 years of experience in the development of liquid fuel engines. Previously, Nikishchenko worked as deputy chief designer in the liquid propulsion department of the Ukrainian aerospace company Yuzhnoye and for the Italian launch company Avio.

Waiting … According to the report, Launcher is interested in a progressive combustion rich in oxygen, similar to that used for the RD-180 engine but with a smaller engine for a rocket size reduced. The company is targeting payloads up to 300 kg for the low Earth orbit, but does not plan to have a rocket ready for commercial launches until 2026. Needless to say it is a & a half ages in the market for launching rapidly developing small satellites. (presented by Ken the Bin)

Firefly among the winners of the lunar load program . Firefly, which is developing the smallsat Beta launch vehicle, was among the bidders selected by NASA for the award of a Commercial Payroll Services contract, reports SpaceWatch. Now they will be eligible to win orders of agency assignments for the delivery of small scientific experiments to the surface of the Moon.

At the moon and beyond … "In conjunction with our Beta launch vehicle and our partnership with Intuitive Machines, Firefly will provide integrated services of lunar services, from the launchpad to the surface of the Moon", said Tom Markusic, CEO of Firefly. It seems clear that the Texas launching company has ambitions that go beyond the smallsats.

Stratolaunch will test the pre-burner of the engine at full power . The printed Stratolaunch 3D pre-burner has undergone its first hot fire at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, according to Geek Wire. A pre-burner is a key component that usually starts the process of combustion of a rocket engine and this hot fire suggests that the company is making good progress with the PGA engine, named after the founder of the company Paul G. Allen.

Moving fast … The company indicated that its engineers had designed, built and tested the pre-burner in 11 months. "According to public records, this is the fastest pre-burner development in US history," said Hanna Steplewska Kubiak, vice president of business development at Stratolaunch. We are not sure, but it makes us believe that the company's first rocket can actually fly for its planned target of 2022. (presented by Ken the Bin)

Rocket Lab sets the launch window for the fourth mission . Rocket Lab is approaching the third orbital launch of the company in the year and the fourth general flight of its Electron rocket. The company said it would try to run the educational launch of the Nanosatellites (ELaNa) -19 mission for NASA between December 13th and 21st. The take-off is scheduled between 04:00 and 08:00 UTC from the Rocket Lab launch site in New Zealand.

A big step forward … "It is an honor and a privilege to launch NASA's payload on Electron and to be the first launcher of small satellites to fly with a NASA Venture Class Launch Services contract "said Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Peter Beck. From our point of view, flying only a month or so after the company's first fully commercial mission, Business Time would represent a major step forward for the company (presented by Ken the Bin)

SpaceX is missing a Falcon 9 landing . After successfully landing its Falcon 9 rocket 26 consecutive times on the coast and at sea, SpaceX has lost one for the first time since June 2016. "The fin hydraulic pump has stalled, so Falcon has landed at sea open, "SpaceX's founder and lead designer Elon Musk tweeted shortly after the rocket hit the ground. The accident is quite dramatic came after the successful launch of the CRS-16 mission to provide the International Space Station.

Effect of this uncertain … It is unclear how (if at all) this failure could affect society launch manifest. The company is planning another mission for 2018, an important GPS launch for the Air Force. However, SpaceX did not plan to recover the booster anyway. We anticipate that SpaceX engineers will learn from this and continue to improve their system.

The Soyuz's vehicle returns safely on the fly . Less than two months after a problem of separating the booster with a Soyuz rocket caused a dramatic high-gravity landing, the Russian vehicle climbed back to space on Monday. The launch from Kazakhstan, under mostly clear blue skies, was nominal, and each of the first, second and third stages of the rocket fired normally.

Back in activity … The launch sent the NASA astronaut Anne McClain, the Canadian David Saint-Jacques and the Russian Oleg Kononenko in the space aboard their Soyuz MS spacecraft. 11. This marked a critical launch for both the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, and NASA, because it means that the only life line of the partnership for the International Space Station is back in business.

China sets the launch date for the lunar mission . China has officially announced that it will launch a Chang & # 39; and 4 mission on the far side of the Moon on Saturday December 8th, Beijing time (Friday afternoon in the United States, 6.30pm UTC), Space Policy Online reports. The lander and rover will fly into space on a Long March 3B rocket at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

A first for China? … This is an ambitious mission for China, which at the start of this year launched a space shuttle to facilitate communications between landers, rovers and land. The six-wheeled rover is 1.5 meters long and, although it looks very similar to Yutu, its chief designer, Wu Weiren, told the Chinese Xinhua news agency that changes were made to the different terrains on the opposite side and the need to communicate through the Queqiao Satellite relay. (sent by BH)

The same Falcon 9 flies for the third time . Monday's launch of a Falcon 9 rocket with 64 smallsats marked the first time that a single orbital rocket ever took off and landed vertically for the third time. SpaceX has chosen not to waste time, money or mass by painting over the used rockets, so they look burnt and sooty.

Block 5 flexing his muscles … This was an exciting step forward for SpaceX, which had only twice its previous Falcon 9 fly. This core of Block 5 is now flew three times in seven months and could be put back into service at the beginning of 2019. Will it reach the goal of 10 flights? We will have to wait and see.

The H3 rocket gets its first commercial flight . According to Peter B. de Selding of Space Intel Report the new Japanese H3 rocket has found its first commercial customer: the Inmarsat satellite operator. The rocket, which will debut in 2020, will aim to launch the Inmarsat mission not specified in 2022.

An important step … With the cheaper H3 rocket, Japan Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is trying to increase the number of launches that runs from four a year to around eight. The only way the company can really do this is to sell more commercial launches. It is not an easy undertaking in an increasingly crowded market of envelopes offering geostationary transfer orbit services. Ars deepened this problem in depth in November

Europe Clipper could fly on a Falcon Heavy It is all but certain, but NASA is seriously trying to fly the Europa Clipper scientific mission of six tons on a Falcon Heavy rocket. The current law imposes the launch of the spacecraft on a Space Launch System rocket, which would get the payload on the Moon of Jupiter in less than three years. But mission engineers are trying to protect themselves from the potential for further delays in the development of SLS, reports Ars

Want to fly on SLS, but … NASA has discovered that the addition of a 48 "kick stage" star would allow the Clipper to launch the Falcon Heavy rocket to Jupiter on SpaceX without requiring a fly over Venus, which introduced thermal complications to the mission. "No one is saying we're not going into SLS," Barry Goldstein, the project manager of Europa Clipper, said in a closed meeting. "But if we do not do it, we do not have the challenge of the internal Solar System. This was an important development. This was a big problem for us."

Delta IV Heavy prepares for next flight . The big booster built by United Launch Alliance is scheduled for its second flight of 2018 on Friday. The launch of the NROL-71 mission for the national reconnaissance office would be from the Vandenberg Air Base in California and is scheduled for 20:18 PT (04:19 UTC Saturday).

One to be appreciated . .. This will be the 38th flight for a Delta IV rocket from 2002 and the 11th for the Delta IV Heavy variant with three cores. If the skies are clear, this should be a spectacular launch for the West Coast. And with only four known Delta IV Heavy raises left on the manifest, look one before this big rocket withdraws in the course of 2020.

The next three launches

Dec. 7 : Long March 3B | Chang & 4 and lander and rover | Xichang Satellite Launch Center | 17:30 UTC

Dec. 8 : Delta IV heavy | Spy vehicle NROL-71 | Vandenberg Air Force Base, California | 04:19 UTC

Dec. 13 : Electron | Mission ELaNa-19 | Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand | 04:00 UTC

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