Welcome to Issue 3.01 of the Missile Report! Yes, we are starting our third year creating this weekly report and hope to celebrate this weekend with the launch of Crew Dragon. Until then, there are many other news items to report.
As always, we look forward to readers̵
Virgin Orbit’s first attempt to launch ends quickly. After more than seven years of development, testing and preparation, Virgin Orbit reached an important moment on Monday – launching and firing the LauncherOne rocket over the Pacific. After ignition, the engine burned “for a few” seconds before something happened to the booster and exploded.
A hardware-rich company … The company’s vice president of special projects, Will Pomerantz, told Ars that the missile had dropped from the plane as intended and under control. The engine also fired when and how the company expected it – a real challenge for a liquid fuel rocket in the air. “This is the single biggest technical risk that the program will retire,” said Pomerantz. Now they will check the data and try to fly again as soon as possible. Several subsequent rockets are in different production states.
Rocket Lab celebrated the third year of its success. May 25 was the third anniversary of the company’s first attempt to launch when the Electron rocket went into space due to a software error, but not to orbit. Since then, the company has flown a total of 11 missions. It also has two operational space ports, a third of which is underway, the company’s CEO, Peter Beck, wrote in an update.
A long and bumpy road … Three years after its success, Rocket Lab remains the only company in the new generation of Smallsat carriers that successfully reaches orbit. The growing pain is also remarkable. Despite all efforts to get started quickly, the cadence is now up to six starts per year. It’s respectable and the company is ready for growth, but it highlights the myriad of difficulties in developing and manufacturing a missile on a large scale. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
Selection of the 30 best space companies in China. We often talk about various milestones in the Chinese commercial space industry. Recently China NewSpace has translated a list of the “Top 30” space companies in China. Of the 30 largest companies, 11 are involved in the manufacture of rockets or missiles. A total of more than 100 companies were considered for inclusion.
Rankings are subjective … Many of these companies are supported by government funds or have started a technology transfer. “Most of these metrics are fairly vague, and unfortunately the compilers haven’t provided any of the data they use. Even though they’re subjective, these rankings are a useful starting point to learn about the state of a rapidly growing industry,” said the Website. Indeed.
Norway is upgrading the Andøya spaceport. The facility is located on an island above the Arctic Circle and has been launching rockets with suborbital sound since the 1960s. Now, reports NRK, the national broadcasting organization, the Norwegian government is ready to provide the necessary funds to expand the facility for handling small orbital missiles.
Private funds are also needed … Due to its location, the system is suitable for polar orbits or orbits with a high inclination. The government has provided approximately $ 36.5 million of the $ 130 million needed to modernize the spaceport. The rest are said to come from commercial sources, and government funds are only paid out if private money is secured first. (submitted and translated by Polykin)
Historic crew dragon scrubs due to the weather. SpaceX scrubbed the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft a little less than 17 minutes before launch on Wednesday, Ars reports. Although the weather conditions at the launch site improved – thunderstorms earlier in the day and a tornado warning for the Kennedy Space Center – , they didn’t improve quickly enough.
Part of the deal … The dragon’s commander, Doug Hurley, was informed of the peeling and said from the spaceship: “It was a good effort by the teams and we understand. Everyone is probably a bit crazy. It’s only part of the deal . ” There were no technical problems with Dragon or the rocket. SpaceX is now working to recycle the systems for another attempt to start on Saturday at 3:22 PM ET (7:22 PM UTC). A backup option is available on Sunday, but the weather doesn’t look good on both days.
Russia wishes NASA good luck with Crew Dragon. In an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda radio on Monday, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin admitted that the Russian space company would lose money if NASA stopped buying Soyuz crew seats. However, he said of TASS: “We will be very happy if the Americans have an alternative system for delivering crews to the space station.”
A matter of honor … Rogozin said Russia felt pressure was the only lifeline for the station. “No money can measure the emotional stress on those responsible for manned space missions,” he said. Rogozin said he also understood America ‘s pride in this achievement: “I can imagine how it felt for you all nine years when you had no opportunity to bring your astronauts to the ISS. It is a matter of honor and honor National pride. Let us wish them professional success. “(Submitted by dramamoose)
NASA’s virtual invitation doesn’t stop the masses. Before the launch of Crew Dragon, NASA invited people to “virtually” take part in a series of online activities. And to be honest, the 4.5-hour countdown show that aired on NASA television and included NASA, SpaceX, and other moderators was excellent. NASA tried to minimize the crowd and promote social distancing during the pandemic.
They came anyway … As Florida Today reported, thousands still came. Crowds flocked to the coveted lookouts across Brevard County along with heavy rain before the mission was scrubbed a few minutes before the scheduled launch. And even after it became known that the start was a no-go, many plans made plans to return for the next attempt scheduled for Saturday. (submitted by Ken the Bin and JohnCarter17)
The Mars rocket arrives at the Cape by plane. Two important pieces of hardware needed for NASA’s next Mars rover – an Atlas rocket booster and sterile components of the rover’s sample collection system – arrived in Cape Canaveral on July 17 before the mission was scheduled to start. After unloading the booster from the cargo jet, ULA moved the missile to the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center for post-shipment checks, reports Spaceflight Now.
A special delivery … The first stage of the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket reached the runway at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Skid Strip station on May 18 on board an Antonov An-124 transport plane built in Ukraine. ULA typically supplies rocket hardware launch sites with the company’s ocean-going vessel called “RocketShip”. The ship recently brought Delta 4 rocket cores to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California and was not available for Atlas V delivery to Florida. The mission stays on track for a punctual start. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
China’s Mars rocket also reaches its launch pad. China is preparing to launch its Tianwen-1 Mars mission after a launch vehicle was delivered to the Wenchang launch center on March 5, SpaceNews reports. The missile components arrived in Wenchang on May 24 after being delivered to Hainan Island by cargo ships Yuanwang 21 and 22.
No official start date … Space officials at China’s ongoing annual political meetings in Beijing confirmed the launch of the combined orbiter and rover mission for July. The exact launch date has not been released, and this is probably because the Chinese government believes that if it misses a launch target, it will lose face. Earlier launch campaigns on March 5th took two months, so the launch can be expected in late July. The launch window is likely similar to the one from July 17 through August 5 for NASA’s Perseverance Rover. (submitted by JohnCarter17 and Ken the Bin)
China plans to launch many Long March missiles. China is preparing to conduct eleven space station construction missions in two years, reports SpaceNews. The first module for the Chinese space station will launch next year, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the Chinese manned space program. The start of the Tianhe core module on a long March 5th could take place in Wenchang in early 2021.
An intense start plan … China wants to complete the construction of the space station by about 2023, said Zhou. These launches include the core and two experimental modules, as well as four manned spacecraft and four cargo spacecraft. The intensive launch plan was announced on May 5 after the successful test flight of the Long March 5B heavy-duty rocket. The missions are carried out with the Long March 5B, Long March 2F and Long March 7 launchers. (submitted by JohnCarter17)
Netflix Space forces uses an interesting rocket. One of the key tensions in the first episode of the new show is whether or not the Space Force’s first major mission, a satellite, should be launched on its “Epsilon” rocket, Ars reports. (There is a real one for the recording Epsilon rocket, a relatively small booster developed by the Japanese space agency.) It is a large, heavy-duty booster that appears to require low humidity to launch.
A hybrid rocket … The Space Force rocket seems to be the love child of two real rockets: an Atlas V rocket core (built by United Launch Alliance) and two side boosters that are striking like the first stages of Falcon 9 (SpaceX) look like a single engine. The performance of such a vehicle is interesting to consider. Overall, I thought the show was excellent, although the lack of attention to detail is sometimes unsettling.
The next three starts
May 29th: Long March 11th CX-6-01 satellite | Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China | 20:03 UTC
30th May: Falcon 9 | Crew Dragon | Kennedy Space Center, Fla. | 19:22 UTC
31. May: Long March 2D | Gaofen 9 Earth observation satellite | Jiuquan, China | 08:52 UTC