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Missile report: Iranian launch failed, SpaceX rides are booming

  The launch vehicle from Electron is ready to go.
Enlarge / The launch vehicle from Electron is ready to go.

Welcome to issue 2.13 of the Rocket Report! There is no shortage of news about rideshares this week, and it seems SpaceX, with its new ̵

1; and changing – plans to launch satellites at very low cost, has really messed up the smallsat industry. The company also had a big week with its Starhopper test vehicle.

As always we are happy about reader contributions. If you do not want to miss an issue, please subscribe to it using the box below (the form will not appear in AMP – enabled versions of the site). Each report contains information on light, medium and heavy duty rockets as well as a brief look at the next three launches in the calendar.

Iran fails in another start attempt in orbit . Satellite images show that an Iranian rocket has exploded on Thursday on the launch pad, reports NPR. At the Imam Khomeini Space Center in northern Iran, images of the trading company Planet were shown as smoke spilled out of the pad. The pad had been repainted in recent days, and numerous vehicles had been discovered in preparation for the launch attempt on the job site.

Not a Good Average … If This is the third failure of the Iranian orbital launch in 2019, giving the country a record of 0-3. The exact nature of the rocket that failed on Thursday is unclear, but the circular pad had previously been used to launch a two-stage rocket with liquid fuel, the so-called Safir. The rocket is relatively small and can only transport small satellites into orbit. Iran should prepare for another satellite launch. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

X-37B Sets Record for Space Flight Duration . The Washington Post reports that the ultra-secret, awkward Luftwaffe spacecraft, which looks like a miniaturized version of the Space Shuttle, has just broken its own 719-day flight record in continuous orbit. The spacecraft launched into orbit in 2017 with a Falcon 9 rocket.

What is it doing up there in the near-Earth orbit? … Previously, the Air Force said, "The main objectives of the X-37B are twofold: reusable spacecraft technologies for America's future in space and operational experiments that can be returned to Earth and studied there." In addition, we are deep delved into speculation, but one of the things the vehicle definitely does is prove its ability to fly in space for a long time before it gets home.

German company building smallsat launcher . The German satellite manufacturer OHB SE is developing a space rocket for small payloads. The first flight of the planned rocket is scheduled for late 2021, said OHB CEO Marco Fuchs in an interview with Bloomberg. The company employs around 35 people in Augsburg, Germany, who work on a so-called mini-launcher, which is designed to bring small payloads into orbit at low cost.

Next logical step … "For OHB, the construction of a rocket is a logical step," said Fuchs in an interview at the company headquarters in Bremen. "We become our own customer and launch our own satellites." It may or may not be the next logical step. Developing a rocket is time-consuming, costly and not as easy as it sounds. The company did not comment on potential launch locations.

SpaceX Increases Ride Rate of Ride Program . On Wednesday, the company said it had received "great interest and feedback from customers" for its proposed Falcon 9 small satellite rideshare program. Rather than flying just one mission a year, the company is now planning three regularly scheduled annual missions for ESPA class payloads into Sun-synchronous orbit for just $ 1 million per mission.

Fascinating development … In addition, the company will offer mid-season launch opportunities on a monthly basis for Starlink missions as well as missions in Sun-Synchronous and / or Polar orbits. The company has updated its website offerings for the program here. This is a pretty interesting development, indicating either the pent-up demand for satellite launches or the interest in the price offered by SpaceX.

Rideshare versus dedicated launch of small satellites is one thing . Earlier this month, on the day SpaceX announced its plans to launch rides, Arianespace offered a similar service. The company announced that it will fly several small satellites directly into geostationary orbit in the first half of 2022 with an Ariane 64. The GO-1 mission will be able to launch up to 4,500 kg of satellites and place them in GEO six hours later. "There's a market out there," said Wiener Kernisan, president of Arianespace's US subsidiary, according to SpaceNews. Arianespace is in talks with three or four potential customers, and he expects the first contracts to be signed within three to six months.

Price vs. Convenience … The advantage that Arianespace and SpaceX offer small developers is the price: per kilogram, a large rocket is generally cheaper than a small one. When vendors of small launches have concerns about losing business through cheaper rides, they are not publicly concerned. Dozens of companies are working on small carrier systems and there is a widespread belief that the carrier market can only accommodate a handful of new companies dealing with small carrier systems. This will be part of the comprehensive market consolidation of launch providers in the next few years.

Starhopper is the first major flight test. On Tuesday night SpaceX launched its test vehicle Starhopper for the second time in South Texas. In this test, it flew much higher than last month, almost straight up to 150 m. Then, under the power of a single Raptor engine, the vehicle moved approximately 100 meters transversely before descending in a controlled manner in the middle of a landing pad.

Next stop, suborbital flight? … The test was technically impressive and demonstrated the thrust and vector control of the new Raptor engine. This was the first time that a large rocket engine burning liquid methane fuel had made a significant flight, and it seemed largely, if not completely, successful. SpaceX engineers can rely on this test as they transition from Starhopper to the completion of their star ship orbital prototypes in Texas and Florida.

The battle for the Europa Clipper missile increases . On Tuesday, NASA Inspector General Paul Martin wrote an extraordinary letter to US Senators setting the budget for the space agency. In fact, the independent NASA official asked Congress not to interfere in decisions concerning actual missile science. The letter addressed the question of which rocket NASA should launch its multi-billion dollar mission to explore Jupiter's Moon Europa, Ars reports.

Stay on Track … For several years, Congress has mandated an appropriation law that the Space Agency launch the Clipper mission with the Space Launch System rocket. NASA can get planning security with commercial missiles and pay up to $ 1 billion less, Martin wrote. The notable feature of this letter is that, in essence, Martin has to call on Congress to stay on track – Congress may set the budget for NASA, but actual rocket scientists should decide how the agency will bring its valuable payload safely to Jupiter can be on time for optimal science. (submitted by Tfargo04)

No changes to the procurement of the Luftwaffe . The Luftwaffe launch vehicle procurement competition is expected to buy national security missiles for the years 2022 to 2026, but has encountered legal and political challenges in recent months. But SpaceNews reports that the Pentagon currently has no plans to change the program, said Ellen Lord, Undersecretary for Defense for Acquisition and Conservation.

Foursome … "There are no changes imminent," Lord said Monday at a Pentagon press conference. However, it did not completely rule out future revisions to the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement. "We'll see how it works and adapt if necessary," Lord said. Four companies submitted proposals for Phase 2 procurement: United Launch Alliance, SpaceX, Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

Boeing completes the SLS Rocket Engine Division . Officials of NASA and the main contractor of the rocket, Boeing, officially signed the first assembly of one of the most complicated elements of the SLS booster. After reviewing the data from a two-month functional test at the Michoud Assembly Facility, the engine section element of the first SLS Core Stage is completed and released for connection to the rest of the vehicle, reports NASASpaceFlight.com.

Final completion of the core phase … The engine section is the compartment at the bottom of the core phase where the main drive elements come together to meet the various propellant, hydraulic, pneumatic, and electrical interfaces of four RS-25 engines. Boeing hopes to complete construction of the core stage by the end of this year to complete the vehicle's Green Run test in 2020. (Submitted by platykurtic and Ken the Bin)

The next three launches

30. August : Rokot | GEO-IK 2 Satellite | Cosmodrome Plesetsk, Russia | 14:00

Sept. 10 : H-2B | Eighth HTV Supply Mission for the ISS | Tanegashima Space Center, Japan | 21:33 UTC

Sept. 25 : Soyuz | Soyuz MS-15 Crew Mission | Cosmodrome Baikonur, Kazakhstan | 13:57 UTC

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