Home / Science / Rocket report: spaceship opens on purpose, Delta IV Heavy ready to try again

Rocket report: spaceship opens on purpose, Delta IV Heavy ready to try again

Wide angle view of a rocket taking off from a grassy field.
Zoom in / Firefly tests the first stage of its Alpha rocket.

Welcome to the 3.17 edition of the Rocket Report! Weather and technical issues permitting, we are seeing a busy weekend in Florida, with a Delta IV Heavy booster set for early takeoff on Saturday, followed by a launch of the Falcon 9 on Sunday morning. In the meantime, read all the booster news below.

As always, we welcome contributions from readers, and if you don̵

7;t want to miss an issue, sign up using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small, medium and heavy lift rockets, as well as a quick look at the next three launches on the calendar.

The new Shepard rubs the launch attempt. On Thursday, Blue Origin canceled the first launch attempt on its first New Shepard rocket since December 2019. The mission was to fly several commercial payloads and some lunar landing technology for NASA. “We have detected a potential problem with the power supply for the experiments”, Blue Origin stated. The company added that it would attempt to reboot on Friday, September 24 at 15:00 UTC.

Things moved slowly, but … Some people have started to take a dismissive attitude towards New Shepard, as it takes so long to enter service for humans and is “just” a suborbital system. But how I outlined on Twitter, I think this is still an exciting program and it really takes some time to certify that a system capable of launching loads can do it safely for humans as well. (sent by Tfargo04 and Ken the Bin)

ISRO plans two launches in November. After a nine-month suspension, largely due to COVID-19 issues in the country’s main spaceport, the Indian Space Research Organization is planning two launches of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in November, the New India Express reported. According to the publication, the PSLV-C49 and PSLV-C50 missions are now targeted for that month.

Better not to suppress the information … This program is provisional and relies on effective control of the virus when employees return to work at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota. Employees should immediately report if their family members are subjected to an antivirus test. “The suppression of information will be considered seriously and action will be initiated,” the spaceport told employees. (sent by Ken the Bin and JohnCarter17)

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The German missile company tries to stop the European launch. Co-founder of German rocket company Isar Aerospace said he believes the European state-backed Arianespace-led launch industry is poised for disruption. “Europe is where the US launch industry was 15 years ago,” said Daniel Metzler, co-founder and CEO of the Munich-based company, in an interview with Ars.

Do you need a growing market? … Isar has grown from 25 to 100 employees this year and is aiming for the launch in 2022 of its “Spectrum” rocket, designed to have the capacity to launch up to 1,000 kg into low earth orbit. The company has not set a price for the launch, but is aiming for a competitive price of 10,000 euros ($ 11,700) per kilogram. The company believes there is a growing number of European companies and other groups that will seek affordable access to space for small satellites.

Firefly successfully conducts an initial test phase. On Saturday, the Texas-based missile company performed a first-stage flight test of its Alpha rocket. The four Reaver engines performed 35 seconds of thrust vector control maneuvers. Firefly described the test as an important step in Firefly’s march towards first flight. This could come as early as November. (video here)

A deep dive into the owner of Firefly … The mysterious Ukrainian Firefly supporter who saved the company from bankruptcy, Max Polyakov, has sparked controversy in the aerospace industry over a corporate portfolio that includes bold dating sites. However, a new Bloomberg Businessweek feature offers a perspective on Polyakov and his interest in space. It is worth your time. (sent by Ken the Bin)

Two suborbital rockets launched from Australia. Australian small satellite launch company Southern Launch said it has completed two polar suborbital launches in a row on a Dutch-designed two-stage DART rocket, SpaceWatch. The launches, from the Koonibba Test Range northwest of Ceduna in South Australia, were separated by a period of only 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Stimulate the public … “We Australians have achieved something incredible today, because today in Koonibba, Australia took its first small step towards once again being a proud nation of space,” said Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp. This appears to have been an effort to stimulate public interest in Australia, as the company hopes to develop its own orbital rockets in the future. (sent by Cognac)

OneWeb and Arianespace to restart launches. After coming out of a period of financial uncertainty, OneWeb says it wants to start launching satellites again into low Earth orbit, with the aim of delivering high-speed Internet from space. Prior to its bankruptcy, the company planned to launch another 18 missions on Europeanized Soyuz rockets, deploying a constellation of 648 satellites before the end of 2021.

Flipping from Ariane 6 … Now, under a modified deal, Arianespace will provide 16 additional launches between December 2020 and the end of 2022. The revised contract canceled two launches of Soyuz and also removed OneWeb as a customer for the inaugural launch of Ariane 6, SpaceNews reports. According to OneWeb, Arianespace plans to launch commercial services by the end of 2021 for regions including the UK, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland and Canada. (sent by Ken the Bin, Tfargo04, platykurtic and JohnCarter17)

China could see trade space as a key. A new study by the US Air Force university think tank, entitled “China’s Space Narrative,” evaluates China’s use of soft power and diplomacy as potentially powerful weapons that could undermine the United States. One of the topics he focuses on is the potential of retail space in the coming years, SpaceNews reports.

Envious of SpaceX … Chinese analysts, according to the report, see the US commercial space sector – and especially SpaceX – as role models that Chinese companies should emulate. China sees the US commercial space industry as a big plus for the US. The report states that China’s private commercial sector faces many challenges, including the lack of a favorable political environment and the favoritism of the central government towards the state-owned sector. (sent by JohnCarter17)

The often delayed launch of the UAE satellite was again delayed. The launch of the Russian Soyuz-ST rocket with the UAE’s Falcon Eye 2 satellite from the Kourou launch facility in French Guiana, scheduled for October, is postponed to early November, reports Russian state news agency TASS. No reason was given for the additional delay.

Everything slips … The UAE satellite launch was originally scheduled for March 6, but has been postponed by one day due to problems with the rocket’s upper Fregat stage. Subsequently, UAE and Arianespace decided to replace the stage and postpone the launch. As the new coronavirus pandemic continued to gain momentum, all work at the Kourou launch facility was suspended and the mission was once again postponed. Subsequently, the launch was set for October. (sent by JohnCarter17)

The spaceship explodes. Wednesday morning, early Wednesday morning, just before 5am local time in South Texas, SpaceX finally managed to blow up a test tank for its Starship project. The so-called SN 7.1 tank was built to test a new steel alloy that SpaceX engineers believe will be stronger for Starship and Super Heavy vehicles. The failure was done on purpose.

Looking at the top pop … The good folks at NASASpaceflight.com have a video of the pop, which occurred after the tank was pressurized. So far, SpaceX hasn’t revealed what pressure the tank sustained before bursting. Now the focus at the company’s Boca Chica site will focus on preparing SN 8, a full-scale prototype with fins, a nose cone and three Raptor engines, for a flight campaign. Today it could move to the launch site. It will be something to see.

The weather looks OK for the Delta IV Heavy launch attempt. Weather conditions this weekend are expected to be favorable for a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy mission, marking the three-core rocket’s third attempt to launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida Today reports. The updated forecast requires a 60% probability of “go” conditions.

Is the third time the charm? … If schedules are on hold, the rocket will take off at 00:14 EDT on Saturday (04:14 UTC) from Launch Complex 37, carrying an intelligence-gathering satellite of the National Reconnaissance Office. The main concerns revolve around the clouds. Two previous launch attempts in late August were canceled due to technical issues. The first occurred when pneumatic problems in ground equipment forced teams to retreat; the second was caused by a torn diaphragm in a pressure regulator a few seconds before takeoff. (sent by JohnCarter17)

NASA invites the media to the SLS Green Run test. On Wednesday, the space agency opened media registration for access to the first test launch of the main stage of the space launch system. As part of the invitation, NASA said the test was to take place “early November”. Ars intends to be there.

A key test … This will be a great time for NASA and the first core-stage contractor, Boeing, who has worked for years to build the large liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks and engine section that will house the four main engines of space. shuttle. Under a nominal test, the rocket will fire for about eight minutes to simulate an ascent into orbit. If the booster passes the test, it will be shipped to Florida for a potential launch in late 2021. (sent by Ken the Bin)

Next three launches

September 26: Delta IV Heavy | NROL-44 | Cape Canaveral, Florida | 04:14 UTC

September 27: Falcon 9 | Starlink Mission-12 | Kennedy Space Center, Florida | 14:43 UTC

September 28: Soyuz | Three Gonets satellites | Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia | 11:20 UTC

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