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Rocket Report: NASA Dishes On Small Rockets, Jeff buys Flight on Falcon 9

Rocket Report: NASA Dishes On Small Rockets, Jeff buys Flight on Falcon 9

A rocket engine is under construction inside a huge white-walled hangar.
Zoom in / Photo of the first AR1 engine built by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Welcome to Rocket Report version 3.29! What a wild weekend we’re heading into in the rocket and launch world, with apparently plenty of news to cover:

• Electron, Sat, 07:38 UTC

• SLS Hot Fire, Saturday, 22:00 UTC

• SN9, Saturday probable, ¯ _ (ツ) _ / ¯

• LauncherOne, Sunday, 18:00 UTC

• Falcon 9, Mon, 13:45 UTC

As usual, we’ll do our best, and we will Readers’ offers are welcomeAnd if you don’t want to miss out on any issues, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-supported versions of the site). Each report will include information on small, medium, and heavy rockets as well as a sneak peek at the next three launches on the calendar.

New Shepard launches new crew capsule. After a delay due to mid-level winds, Blue Origin successfully launched the New Shepard-14 (also known as NS-14) mission from West Texas on Thursday morning. Test flight (See the webcastIt looks like it’s going well. This was the first flight of a new capsule, to be outfitted for human flights, and the Mannequin Skywalker flew together to collect data.

Human flights when? … during the hour-long webcast, unfortunately Blue Origin did not provide any details about its testing plan before humans boarded the sub-orbiter. We’ve heard rumors that the NS-16 flight might carry passengers, but the company has not provided specific information. If true, that means there will be a final unmanned flight for this capsule.

NASA offers insight into small launch companies. Most recently, NASA awarded Venture-class launch services contracts to Astra Space, Firefly Aerospace, and Relativity Space. After the awards are announced, SpaceNews dug in The “source selection” document that talks about why these companies were chosen, but seven other bidders were not selected.

Worth checking out … the document provides an insight into the condition of some of the familiar names who have made longstanding claims about missile development but have not yet been made. For example, Interorbital Systems demonstrated “a lack of understanding of the complexity of space launch service” with its Neptune missile, according to the NASA document. The entire report, which links to the source selection document, is worth reading. (Provided by DanNeely)

The easiest way to keep up with Eric Berger’s satellite coverage is to subscribe to his newsletter, and we’ll collect his stories in your inbox.

Rocket Lab is looking for some components. The Rocket Lab missile recovered the first stage of the Electron missile for the first time after launching in November. And while the company never intended to rework the entire stage, the company now believes that some electronic components are repairable. Reports things.

Journey of great success “The electron is back in such good condition that we will try to rehabilitate it and restart some components in future missions,” said company spokeswoman Morgan Bailey. Overall, she said, the flight was a huge success and Rocket Lab will attempt to recover more early stages later in 2021 as it moves forward with an electron reuse plan. (Submitted by Platecortec)

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The battle continues at the launch site in Georgia. Environmental groups continue to fight the construction of a spaceport in Camden County, Georgia. Recently, the Southern Environmental Law Center said the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to limit its review of the Space Port plan was “illegal”. The issue is whether the Federal Aviation Administration can rely on the draft Environmental Impact Statement, completed in 2018, for revised plans for the spaceport, Parabolic Arc Reports.

Small equals average? … Initially, Camden Space Port planned to launch “medium” and “large” rockets, but the site will now launch “small” and “medium” missiles, according to its revised plans. Environmentalists say the Federal Aviation Administration should conduct a new, complete review with a public comment period. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says the potential environmental impacts of small lift launch vehicles are among the potential impacts of medium and large lift class vehicles. (Submitted by Ken Bin)

BluShift Aerospace is planning to launch the prototype. The Maine-based space company says it will attempt to launch a prototype Stardust 1.0 single-stage missile on Friday, January 15th, from the Loring Mall in Limestone, Maine. The company said in a press release that the launch of the low-altitude test offer is the culmination of six years of research and development and more than 200 engine tests. release It will be streamed.

Use of vital energy … the company says this is the first-ever commercial launch of a biofuel rocket anywhere in the world. The missile is equipped with a standard hybrid rocket engine. The small company has not yet outlined a public plan to develop an orbital or orbital launch vehicle.

The Canadian spaceport is still alive today. Supporters of a spaceport in Nova Scotia say the dream is alive. Little progress has been made towards developing a spaceport in 2020, as the CEO of Maritime Launch Services recently acknowledged, According to the CBC. “We are definitely moving forward with the initiative,” said Steve Matter, who is leading the project.

Tough year … “It has been a tough year for everyone in terms of the pandemic, of course, and things certainly haven’t gone as fast as we had hoped and planned, but I’m looking forward to more in 2021, Mattier also said. The Canso spaceport as envisioned will serve as a launch pad for the Cyclone missiles. -4M Ukrainian. There is no set timeline to start construction, investors still needed. (Submitted by Glen and BH)

Florida could see as many as 53 missions in 2021. As many as 53 space missions are expected to be launched in 2021 from the Space Coast in Florida, the deputy commander of the 45th Space Wing said on Tuesday. “We have 53 launches in our prospects with one already in the books,” Colonel Brand Walton told the National Space Club of Florida during an online event. Reported by SpaceNews.

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Of course, not everything will happen … the 45th US Space Force Space Wing oversees space launches from the East Coast, including commercial, civilian and military launches. Walton said a total of 31 space launches were launched in Florida in 2020. The 2021 forecast is just a forecast as the launch schedules change from month to month. The launch toll includes some missions that we’re not sure will happen so it’s likely to be high. But we are looking forward to a busy year in the Sunshine State. (Submitted by Ken Bin and Platecortek)

MethaneSAT will be launched on the Falcon 9 missile. Environmental Defense Fund He said Thursday MethaneSAT will launch Earth observation on the Falcon 9 rocket in October 2022. This innovative mission, which will augment climate science data, will aid decision-makers in their struggle to tackle climate change

Jeff buys a missile launch … the satellite will fly 350 kg as participation in a flight on an unspecified Falcon launch. An interesting note is that the satellite and its launch will be largely paid for by a $ 100 million grant from the Bezos Earth Fund. So, yeah, Jeff Bezos buys a shot at SpaceX. And this is for good reason. (Submitted by Ken Bin)

Europe is seeking an “alliance” to compete with SpaceX, China. The European Union will pursue a more aggressive European space strategy to prevent it from being pressured by American and Chinese missiles, Reuters Reports. European Commissioner Terry Breton said: “We must ask ourselves: Will our current approach succeed in bringing us to 2050, given the disruptions in the sector that we all observe? I strongly doubt that, and I think we need a more offensive and aggressive strategy.” .

The plan will need funding … Europe is concerned about the emergence of SpaceX, with its low-cost reusable missile, and the growing competition from a new generation of Chinese missiles. In order to remain competitive in launching commercial satellites, Breton said he would start a “European bomber alliance,” which would outline a roadmap for developing a new generation of missiles. In a separate press conferenceAriane Space Chairman Stefan Israel has urged European governments to request more launches on his company’s missiles. (Submitted by Ken Bin)

NASA is moving the hot test shooting of the SLS to Saturday. NASA said It was transporting the four-engine hot fire test of the Space Launch System missile base stage the day before, to Saturday, January 16. The eight-minute test will take place at the Stennis Space Center. During a pre-briefing with reporters, NASA officials said the symbolic time to ignite the main engines of the space shuttle is 4 pm CST (22:00 UTC), but that a delay is likely.

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The last step before shipping … this is the last major test of the primary stage before it is shipped from the Mississippi test site to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA said the missile can still say a launch date in 2021, but we are not so sure. Ars will be ready to launch the test in Mississippi and will have a full report after the test ends. (Submitted by Ken Bin)

SpaceX tests the spacecraft fires three times in four hours. Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and chief engineer, said after running the first three tests on Wednesday On Twitter, “Today at SpaceX is all about the practice of starting the Starship’s engine. The ship is held in place by massive pins while the motors are running.” After the third test, Musk confirmed that the three tests were completed without much problem. Ars Reports Conducting three tests like this in rapid succession is a remarkable achievement, and indicates the maturity of the spaceship hardware, ground systems, and procedures for the SpaceX launch program.

After that, a test flight … Musk said the goal is to get to a point where a traveler can “hop and go” to Mars. This ability remains for the Starship years into the future, if achieved at all. But the company appears to be making progress towards a solid launch system. The next step for SN9 is to go and fly. The car is already in the launch pad, and Musk and his engineers will now undertake a “readiness” review in advance of what is expected to be another test flight of about 12.5 kilometers. The flight may take place on Friday or Saturday.

Aerojet says it has completed its first AR1 engine. On Tuesday, Aerojet Rocketdyne shared a photo of its new engine Via Twitter, Reports that it is complete. About the engine, the company said: “The first American-made oxygen / kerosene phase-combustion engine. The AR1 is the ideal engine for many possible solutions; it provides the appropriate level of propulsion, size and performance for a variety of launch vehicles.”

A large rocket is required … you might remember that the AR1 engine was competing with the Blue Origin BE-4 engine to power the Vulcan missile developed by the United Launch Alliance. The company eventually chose the BE-4 engine because it was longer and less expensive. The future of the AR1 engine is unclear as there is currently no rocket planned to be used. Now that Lockheed Martin plans to acquire the Aerojet, we will probably get more clarity about the future of the AR1. (Submitted by Ken Bin)

The next three launches

January 16: Electron | ‘Another leaves the crust’ | Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand | 07:38 UTC

January 17: LauncherOne | Demo-2 Mission Launch | Mojave Air and Space Port | 18:00 UTC

January 18: Falcon 9 | Starlink-16 | Kennedy Space Center, Florida | 18:35 UTC