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Home / Science / Rocket Report: A big step back for Stratolaunch, a stunning spaceship

Rocket Report: A big step back for Stratolaunch, a stunning spaceship

  The rocket report is published weekly.
Enlarge / The rocket report is published weekly.

Welcome to issue 1.34 of the Rocket Report! It's a sad week for new space, because just three months after the death of Paul Allen, who shared the vision of cost-effective access to space, Stratolaunch abandoned its plans to build a missile line for its large aircraft. In somewhat happier news, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin seem to be getting closer to commercial space tourism.

As always, we welcome reader contributions, and if you do not want to miss an issue, please subscribe to the box below (The form will not be displayed in AMP-enabled versions of the site.) Each report contains information on small, medium and heavy rockets as well a quick look at the next three launches of the calendar.

Stratolaunch abandons the development of the rocket . Following the successful preburner test, Stratolaunch will discontinue its programs to develop a new rocket engine and rocket array, Geek Wire reports. "Stratolaunch Completes the Development of the Launch Rocket and Rocket Engine Family [its] We Streamline Operation [and] and Focus on the Aircraft and Our Ability to Support a Demonstration Launch of the Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL Launcher." Company said.

A pretty impressive turn of events … This development comes only three months after the death of founder Paul Allen. The company says its huge 385-foot aircraft will make its first test flights later this year and that Stratolaunch will push ahead with the launch of the Pegasus rocket. However, it is almost impossible to see how this will become a commercially competitive alternative to existing or under development small satellite launchers. This was a sad day for new rooms. (submitted by Unrulycow and Ken the Bin)

Commercial flights for Virgin could begin in mid-2019. In an interview on CBS This Morning said the founder of Virgin Galactic Richard Branson : "I hope I will go up in the middle of this year myself … We have it In just a few weeks there was another test flight from Mojave, then a few weeks later, then another, and then we bring everything to New Mexico, where we have a nice spaceport. "[19659004 No official word yet Company … Executives of Virgin Galactic were more cautious about the number of test flights and their schedule, SpaceNews reports. George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic's chief executive, said after the test flight last month that "not a large number" of test flights are scheduled before commercial operation begins at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

Shutdown holds small start-up companies . The partial governmental downturn hinders the activities of a number of companies and organizations that collaborate with relevant federal agencies, need information, or require permission from them, including launch licenses, according to SpaceNews . Exos Aerospace has already delayed the launch, and Vector and Rocket Lab are also worried about future launch licenses due to future regulatory approvals.

Electron's Next Launch … Rocket Lab Still Pending FAA Approval Next Scheduled Launch End of February. "We hope the government will reopen soon," said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab's chief executive. "We need a new license for this launch as we are choosing a completely new trajectory, and this always requires a new launch license." He added that DARPA was trying to approve this license. (submitted by Unrulycow)

New Shepard flies for the first time in six months . The 10th flight of the launch system served a dual purpose. It provided additional test data for the launch system as Blue Origin approached the crew flights, and the launch enabled the company to fly eight NASA-sponsored research and technology payloads through NASA's Flight Opportunities program.

Targeting End of the Year … During the webcast, Ariane Cornell, Sales Director of Blue Origin, said the company wanted to make human flights aboard New Shepard before the end of 2019, but also stressed that Blue Origin would not compromise on security to meet any deadlines. The booster for the first test on humans has already been shipped to the launch site in West Texas, but the capsule for the crew remains in Washington.

SpinLaunch signs contract with Spaceport America . Spaceport America has announced that SpinLaunch has signed a lease to conduct tests at its facility in southern New Mexico and that the company will invest up to $ 7 million in facilities there, reports Parabolic Arc. The company considered several sites for the test site, but the New Mexico site offered the best blend of affordability and location.

A Novel Approach … SpinLaunch Develops a Kinetic Energy Launch System That would orbit itself at up to 5,000 miles per hour before it is released to fly into space. The system would not use fuel and the company reportedly spent $ 40 million on venture capital. We are fascinated, but remain skeptical up to a few test flights. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

At the next launch of the ISS crew, slippage may occur. This year's first crew of the Soyuz vehicle with crew could be moved to early April, said Roskosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin, according to TASS. The launch was originally scheduled for March 1st. Rogozin said Russia is working with NASA to set a suitable date for the launch of Nick Hague, Christina Koch and Aleksey Ovchinin.

A Scheduling Problem … The delay stems in part from Russia's desire to fly an astronaut named Hazza Al Mansouri from the United Arab Emirates. He may return with this vehicle, and Roscosmos tries to compensate for the NASA astronaut's stays on the station. However, there does not seem to be any technical issues with the Soyuz rocket and spaceship for this mission.

The contract with Ariane 6 was maintained . European launch provider Arianespace says that in order to sign a manufacturing contract for the next 14 Ariane 6 next generation rockets, European government organizations will initially be required to buy at least four more Ariane 6 missions for the period from 2020 to 2023 ] SpaceNews reports. The company had anticipated signing a manufacturing agreement with ArianeGroup in the second half of 2018 to begin production beyond the first rocket.

Not a big sign … "We are confident that this will happen," said CEO Stéphane Israël of the remaining government missions. "But it has not happened yet, we are working in that direction, it is urgent now because the industry foresaw the production of these first launches, but now we need these institutional contracts to make the first Ariane 6 fully contractual." Needless to say, this is not a great situation with a new booster. If European countries stay with the Ariane 6, what will commercial customers do? (submitted by Ken the Bin)

Russian boss criticizes the decline in commercial launch . Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday, Roskosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin, he should talk less and work more. Part of the criticism came from Russia's declining commercial launch. "We must not forget that space is a huge competitive market, so we need to work seriously to stay in the market," said Medvedev. "Our rocket and space industry can and must be a commercial success in today's environment, and we are far from it for the time being."

From the top to the number three … As of late 2015, Russia was the clear leader in the launch of spacecraft. Since then, both China and the United States have lost ground with their burgeoning trading industry. The situation worsened in 2018, when Russia launched only 20 orbital missiles. This put Russia in third place behind China (39 starts) and the United States (27).

The spaceship crashed in strong winds and delayed tests. "SpaceX's 'Starship Hopper' prototype, recently completed at Boca Chica's launch site and awaiting test flights, was hit by strong winds associated with a cold front that hit the Rio Grande on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. The upper part of the rocket sustained severe damage after overturning, "reports The Brownsville Herald .

A Short Delay … On Twitter, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the damage would take several weeks to repair. The company has built the test vehicle in an open-air pavilion at its launch site in South Texas. It is not uncommon for strong winter cold fronts to bring gusts of wind of around 50 km / h, which hit the Brownsville area this week. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

Angara's launch pads were delayed by up to two years . In the next phase of the new Russian Vostochny launch complex, a new pad for the large Angara rocket was added. The Angara 5M Booster, designed to replace the Proton missile, needs facilities to handle large commercial satellites to compete with other large missiles. Russia had hoped to complete these facilities by 2021, but that will not be possible, reports the Russian space network.

Even before 2023 … "Let us not make any illusions, nobody will manage to build (Angara-pad) until 2021," said Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, who has space and the Defense. "Today, the deadline for juggling is the prime contractor beyond 2021. But it must be by 2023 at the latest, otherwise it would be aligned with the development of the missile, but there would be no place to start. "Needless to say, the Angara-5M will participate in a crowded launch vehicle competition in 2023.

What about the missile fire delta Delta IV Heavy ? With a clear sky and close-up A fireball , which briefly covers the lower part of the three boosters of the Delta IV Heavy, was clearly visible just before the launch of the NROL-71 mission at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Saturday.

What's The Fireballs Phenomenon Shows Not only because of the design differences between the RS-68 and shuttle main engines, but also because the RS-68 fuel valve is opened longer before the oxidizer begins to flow In essence, engines only run on liquid hydrogen through the engine because it is chemically less active than oxygen, and this hydrogen flows out of the engine and there is hydrogen compared to the ambient air very light, it rises outside the rocket. When the liquid oxygen stream starts, the hydrogen is ignited to a fireball. It offers a pretty exciting view.

Next Three Launches

Feb. 5 : Ariane 5 | HellasSat 4 / SaudiGeoSat 1 and GSAT-11 | Kourou, French Guiana | 21:01 UTC

Feb. 16 : Falcon 9 | Demo 1 Mission | Kennedy Space Center, Florida | 13:15 UTC

Feb. 21 : Soyuz | EgyptSat-A | Baikonur, Kazakhstan | 16:47 UTC

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