Welcome to Edition 3.22 of the Rocket Report! After a spate of current scrubs, the Cape will get all the way down to enterprise in the coming week with again-to-again authorities launches, one by United Launch Alliance and the different by SpaceX. Fingers (and toes) are crossed.
As at all times, we welcome reader submissions, and if you do not wish to miss a difficulty, please subscribe utilizing the field under (the type will not seem on AMP-enabled variations of the web site). Each report will embody info on small-, medium-, and heavy-elevate rockets as effectively as a fast look forward at the subsequent three launches on the calendar.
Rocket Lab orbits its fifteenth mission. Rocket Lab efficiently launched its fifteenth Electron mission and deployed Earth-imaging satellites for Planet and Spaceflight Inc. buyer Canon Electronics, the firm stated. The “In Focus” mission launched from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula at 21:21 UTC Wednesday.
So many Electrons … The mission (see the video) was Rocket Lab’s fifth launch in this calendar yr, making Electron the second-most steadily flown US launch automobile in 2020 after the Falcon 9 rocket. The firm stated its subsequent mission is scheduled to happen from Launch Complex 1 in the coming weeks. (submitted by Ken the Bin and platykurtic)
Concerns raised about Virgin Orbit particles in Pacific Ocean. The US Federal Aviation Administration is evaluating a proposal by Virgin Orbit to fly its LauncherOne rocket from Guam, a US territory in the western Pacific Ocean. The software—for a most of 10 launches in a single yr, and no more than 25 from the interval of 2021 to 2025—features a draft environmental assessment.
Rockets dropping into oceans … As a part of its launch process, the Cosmic Girl plane would fly east of Guam earlier than releasing the two-stage rocket. Along this flight path, the FAA has decided that falling particles might adversely have an effect on endangered marine mammals, sea turtles, and fish species. “The impact of debris striking a marine mammal or sea turtle may result in injury or mortality to individuals,” the environmental evaluation states. The FAA is accepting public remark on the evaluation till November 16, Pacific Daily News reports.
Firefly bets on making rockets with robots. On Thursday, the Texas-based rocket firm introduced “a substantial commitment” to extend its manufacturing capability by transitioning massive-components manufacturing from Ingersoll Machine Tools to Automated Fiber Placement methods starting subsequent yr. Once absolutely operational, the AFP capabilities may allow manufacturing the all-composite Alpha rocket airframe in as little as 14 days, the company said.
Going massive on composites … “From the outset Firefly chose to utilize 21st-century materials and manufacturing processes in our spacecraft and rocket designs. Metallics were the most prevalent aerospace material of the last century; composites, which are stronger and lighter than metallics, are the choice for modern aircraft. Firefly’s Alpha is the world’s largest all-carbon-fiber liquid-fueled rocket,” stated Firefly CEO Tom Markusic. The firm will start putting in the manufacturing methods subsequent May. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
SpaceX particulars “lacquer” concern with new Falcon 9 boosters. NASA and SpaceX confirmed on Wednesday that they’re concentrating on November 14 for the launch of the Crew-1 mission that can carry 4 astronauts to the International Space Station. Originally scheduled to launch on Halloween, NASA delayed the launch after an engine concern aborted an October 2 launch try of a Falcon 9 rocket, at T-2 seconds, carrying a GPS III satellite tv for pc for the US Air Force.
“You have to be on your toes” … During a teleconference with reporters on Wednesday, SpaceX’s Hans Koenigsmann defined what occurred with the October 2 launch abort and what has been performed to deal with the concern going ahead. In short, some masking lacquer utilized earlier than an anodizing course of was not correctly cleaned away earlier than flight. For the longer, more full story, see this Ars Technica article.
Space Force not involved about spate of scrubs. A streak of United Launch Alliance and SpaceX launch scrubs has annoyed rocket-firm executives and house aficionados. But Space Force launch managers are not discouraged and in reality see scrubs as proof that methods are working like they need to, Col. Douglas Pentecost stated in a report from SpaceNews.
Range security, safety are paramount … “We see that as a success,” stated Pentecost, the deputy director of the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise. Pentecost spoke at a virtual house business convention organized by AFCEA, the National Defense Industrial Association and the Air Force Association. “Falcon 9 and Delta 4 stopped within seconds of launch? This is good stuff,” stated Pentecost. “We’re learning a lot; we’re working with both ULA and SpaceX to understand what happened.” (submitted by Ken the Bin)
Atlas V set for Election Day launch. United Launch Alliance groups mounted a top-secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Office on top of an Atlas 5 rocket at Cape Canaveral Monday in preparation for a liftoff scheduled simply after sundown November 3, Spaceflight Now reports. Codenamed NROL-101, this launch might be the first Atlas 5 rocket flight to be powered by a new mannequin of strap-on strong-rocket boosters constructed by Northrop Grumman, changing strong-fueled motors from Aerojet Rocketdyne.
Swapping with Delta … The Atlas 5 flight from pad 41 is going forward subsequent week as ULA continues resolving launch pad infrastructure points at the firm’s different Cape Canaveral launch facility. Those issues have delayed the flight of a Delta 4-Heavy rocket with a special NRO spy satellite tv for pc since late August and induced ULA to swap the order of its missions to have the subsequent Atlas 5 flight go first. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
SpaceX reaches the century milestone. On Saturday, with a Starlink mission, SpaceX launched its a centesimal profitable flight. This milestone dates to September 28, 2008, and the fourth launch try of the firm’s Falcon 1 rocket.
Fly and re-fly … To mark the second, the firm released a video with a snippet from every of those 100 missions, and it is fairly cool to behold. SpaceX additionally famous that it has recovered 63 of the first phases it has launched and re-flown boosters 45 occasions. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
Axiom near finalizing private ISS launch. Axiom Space hopes to quickly finalize its first business mission to the International Space Station, scheduled for late 2021, SpaceNews reports. Michael Suffredini, president and chief govt of Axiom Space, stated his firm had lined up the clients for that first mission, a ten-day flight to the house station on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2021.
Just about performed … “We have all of our customers identified and we’re about to finish their contracting,” he stated. The firm beforehand introduced a contract with SpaceX for the flight and is “just about done” with a NASA contract for the mission. “We’re cautiously optimistic that, by the end of October, we will have everything in place to move forward for a launch in the fourth quarter of 2021,” he stated. Finding private clients for orbital house tourism can be actual boon for launch firms such as SpaceX. (submitted by Joey SiVB, platykurtic, and JohnCarter17)
BE-4 rocket engine shifting into manufacturing. Blue Origin seems to have solved some improvement points associated to the turbopumps in its highly effective BE-4 rocket engine. United Launch Alliance Chief Executive Tory Bruno stated Friday that the drawback was “sorted out” and that the full-scale, flight-configured BE-4 engine is now accumulating a variety of time on the check stand, Ars reports.
Getting previous the technical stuff … Bruno’s firm, ULA, is shopping for the BE-4 engine to supply thrust for the first stage of its upcoming Vulcan-Centaur rocket. This booster might make its debut subsequent yr, though ULA is nonetheless awaiting supply of BE-4s for the first flight. Bruno stated the focus at Blue Origin is shifting from improvement of the engine to ramping up manufacturing. “That is always a good moment in time in the development program, because that means your big technical stuff is behind you,” he stated throughout Friday’s interview on The Space Show.
Ariane 6 rocket delayed till 2022. The debut flight of the Ariane 6 rocket will slip into the second quarter of 2022, European Space Agency officers stated throughout a teleconference with reporters on Thursday. The delay is attributed to the must resolve final technical difficulties as effectively as the interruption of labor as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe, the place the rocket is being assembled, and the launch web site in French Guiana. ESA may even ask member states for a further 230 million Euros to finance the rocket’s improvement.
Responding to SpaceX … Developed over a lot of the last decade, Ariane 6 is Europe’s reply to the rise of SpaceX and its low-price Falcon 9 rocket. Although the rocket is not reusable, it is designed to be easier, more environment friendly, and to ship payloads at a decrease price. Originally, it was as a result of launch in 2020, however earlier this yr the European Space Agency introduced it will slip to the second half of 2021. Daniel Neuenschwander, Director for Space Transportation for ESA, additionally stated the Vega C rocket debut would slip to June 2021.
SLS Green Run check delayed once more. As of earlier this month, NASA and Boeing had been concentrating on mid-November for the SLS Green Run check in Mississippi. But now that is off. In a blog-post update, NASA stated Tuesday that it now expects to set a new date subsequent week, after Hurricane Zeta and after assessing “data from recent tests to ensure the team is ready to proceed.”
Saw one thing they did not like … Chris Bergin reported on Twitter that the check would slip into December “and possibly further” as a result of technical points. The Boeing and NASA groups appear to have found some information from the sixth of the eight assessments which might be as a result of be accomplished. They wish to overview what they’ve discovered earlier than conducting the moist costume rehearsal and, in the end, a scorching-fireplace check of the massive core stage. This slip makes all of it however sure that the SLS rocket will not make its debut launch in 2021. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
Starship for use to gather orbital particles? SpaceX may use its Starship autos to clear out house particles in Earth orbit, alongside the program’s more publicized function of ferrying individuals and cargo to the Moon and Mars. “Starship is an extraordinary new vehicle capability,” President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell stated in a dialogue posted on-line October 22, Spaceflight Now reports.
Junk in the trunk … “Not only will it decrease the costs of access to space, it’s the vehicle that would transport people from Earth to Mars,” Shotwell stated in an interview with Time’s know-how columnist Patrick Lucas Austin. “But it also has the capability of taking cargo and crew at the same time, and so it’s quite possible that we could leverage Starship to go to some of these dead rocket bodies—other people’s rocket’s, of course—basically pick up some of this junk in outer space.” Starship will little question be a sport changer if and when SpaceX will get it flying. (submitted by platykurtic and Ken the Bin)
Next three launches
Nov. 3: Atlas V | NROL-101 categorised mission| Cape Canaveral, Fla. | 22:58 UTC
Nov. 4: Falcon 9 | GPS III-04 | Cape Canaveral, Fla. | 23:28 UTC
Nov. 6: Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle | RISAT-2BR2 mission | Satish Dhawan Space Center | 09:45 UTC