Welcome to Edition 1.28 of the Rocket Report! Lots of news this week, and much of it is good. Stratolaunch achieved an important test, Firefly won a good contract from NASA and the H3 got its first commercial flight. All in all a nice start week.
As usual, we are happy about reader contributions. 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 page). Each report contains information on small, medium, and heavy rockets, as well as a glimpse of the next three launches of the calendar.
Branson says Virgin will reach the room before Christmas . The entrepreneur behind Virgin Galactic told CNN Business in late November that he is "reasonably confident" that his space tourism company can reach its milestone by the end of the year. "I would obviously love to prove our critics, and I'm pretty confident that we'll do this before Christmas," said Richard Branson. The spacecraft VSS Unity had previously flown at a height of 32 miles.
Test Pilot First … Branson reiterated that he wants to fly on one of the early flights (in this case space flight) means to break a 50-mile high). Test pilots fly the first missions, but then he and some of his family members fly before customers who have paid their tickets go. Branson still believes that Virgin Galactic will reach humans before Blue Origin. Stop us if you've heard that before.
The New York company has a long look at the launch of small business . The start-up Launcher told SpaceNews that Igor Nikishchenko, who has more than 30 years of experience in the development of liquid fuels, has hired as chief designer. Previously, Nikishchenko served as deputy chief designer in the liquid propulsion department of Ukrainian aviation company Yuzhnoye and for Italian launch vehicle company Avio.
Ready to Wait … According to the report, Launcher is interested in oxygen-rich combustion stages, similar to the RD-180 engine, but with a smaller engine for a small rocket. The company targets payloads of up to 300 kg for low-earth orbit, but does not plan to launch a rocket for commercial launch by 2026. It is needless to say that this is one and a half years in the fast developing small satellite market. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
Firefly among the winners of Moon Payload Programs . Firefly, which is developing the smallsat beta launcher, was one of the bidders selected by NASA to award a commercial lunar payload service contract, SpaceWatch reports. You will now be entitled to receive orders from agencies to deliver small scientific experiments to the surface of the moon.
To the Moon and Beyond … "In conjunction with our Beta Carrier Squeegee and In partnership with Intuitive Machines, Firefly will offer an integrated range of Lunar Services from the Launchpad to the Moon's surface," said Tom Markusic, CEO of Firefly. It seems clear that the Texas start-up company has ambitions that go beyond just small businesses.
Stratolaunch tests engine pre-engine at full power . According to Stratolaunch's 3D printed pre-burner, the NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi was hot-rocketed for the first time, reports Geek Wire. A preburner is a key component that typically initiates the combustion process of a rocket engine, and this hot fire suggests that the company is making good progress with the PGA engine named after founder Paul G. Allen.
Fast Moving ] … The company stated that the engineers had designed, built and tested the pilot burner in 11 months. "According to public records, this is the fastest advance burner development in US history," said Hanna Steplewska Kubiak, vice president of business development Stratolaunch. We're not sure about that, but it makes us believe that the company's first rocket could actually reach its target of 2022. (Submitted by Ken the Bin)
Rocket Lab Schedules Launch Window for Fourth Mission . Rocket Lab is nearing the company's third orbital launch and the fourth overall flight of its electron rocket. The company said it will try to launch the "Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) -19" mission for NASA from 13 to 21 December. The launch will be between 04:00 and 08:00 UTC from Rocket Lab's launch site in New Zealand.
A Big Step Forward … "It's an honor and a privilege to launch NASA Payloads on Electron and the first small satellite launcher to be launched as part of a NASA Venture Class Launch Services Contract, "said Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab. In our view, he flew only about a month after the company's first commercial mission, "It's Business Time would be a big step forward for the company. (Submitted by Ken the Bin)
SpaceX misses a landing on Falcon 9 . After successfully landing his Falcon 9 rocket 26 consecutive times on the coast and at sea, SpaceX has missed one for the first time since June 2016. "The hydraulic pump on the Grid Fin has stalled, and so Falcon landed directly in the sea." SpaceX founder and chief designer Elon Musk tweeted shortly after launching the missile The incident is quite dramatic After the successful launch of the CRS-16 mission to serve the International Space Station.
Impact of this uncertainty … It is not clear how (if anything) this failure could affect the company's manifesto. The company has another mission planned for 2018, an important GPS launch for the Luftwaffe. SpaceX had not planned this booster anyway. We expect SpaceX engineers to learn from it and continue to improve the system.
Soyuz crew vehicle safely returns to flight . Less than two months after a booster separation problem with a Soyuz rocket, the landing caused a dramatic high-gravity landing. The Russian vehicle rose again on Monday in the space. The start from Kazakhstan – under mostly clear blue skies – was nominal and each of the first, second and third rocket segments shot normal.
Back in business … The launch sent NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian David Saint-Jacques and Russian Oleg Kononenko aboard their Soyuz spacecraft MS-11. This was a critical start for both the Russian space agency Roscosmos and for NASA, as it is the only lifeline of the partnership with the International Space Station ISS back in operation.
China sets the launch date for the distant moon mission . China has officially announced that it will launch a Chang'e-4 mission on the other side of the moon on Saturday, December 8, Beijing time (Friday afternoon in the United States, 18:30 UTC), reports Space Policy On-line. The lander and the rover will fly into space with a Long March 3B rocket at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
A premiere for China? … This is an ambitious mission for China, which took place earlier this year launched a relay ship to facilitate communication between Lander, Rover and Earth. The six-wheeled rover is 1.5 meters long, and although he looks very much like Yutu, chief designer Wu Weiren told Chinese news agency Xinhua that adjustments were made for the different terrain on the other side and the need for communication over the Internet. Relay satellite. (submitted by BH)
The same Falcon 9 flies for the third time . On Monday, a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 64 smallsats launched for the first time a single orbital missile launched and landed vertically for the third time. SpaceX has decided not to waste time, money or mass by overpainting the used rockets so they have a distinctive burnt and sooty appearance.
Block 5 flexing its muscles … It was exciting For SpaceX, who had flown his previous Falcon 9 missiles only twice, one step forward. This Block 5 core has now flown three times in seven months and could be returned to service in early 2019. Will he reach his goal of ten flights? We have to wait.
The H3 missile gets its first commercial flight . According to Peter B. de Selding of the Intel Space Report Japan's new H3 rocket has found its first commercial customer: the satellite operator Inmarsat. The rocket, which is due to debut in 2020, is scheduled to launch the unspecified Inmarsat mission in 2022.
An Important Step … With the lower-cost H3 rocket, Japanese Mitsubishi Heavy Industries strives to increase the number of product launches it makes from four to eight. The only way the company can really do this is to sell more commercial launches. This is not an easy task in an increasingly overcrowded market of boosters offering services for geostationary transfer orbit. Ars examined this question in detail in November.
Europa Clipper can fly on a Falcon Heavy. It's far from certain, but NASA is seriously interested in flying the six-ton Europa Clipper research mission on a Falcon Heavy rocket. Current legislation requires the spacecraft to fly on a space launch system rocket that would bring the payload to Jupiter's moon in less than three years. Mission engineers, however, are trying to protect themselves against possible delays in developing SLS, reports Ars.
They want to fly with SLS, but … NASA has determined that a Star 48 has been added , Kick Stage "would allow the Clipper to fly from SpaceX to Jupiter with the Falcon Heavy rocket without the need for a Venus flyby that would make the mission thermally complicated." Nobody says we're not going to the SLS, " Barry Goldstein, Project Manager of Europa Clipper, said in a closed session, "But if we do not happen by chance, we do not have the challenge of the inner solar system. This was a big development. This was a big deal for us. "
Delta IV Heavy gets ready for next flight The big booster of the United Launch Alliance is expected to perform the second flight on Friday, 2018. The launch of the NROL 71 Mission for the National Reconciliation Bureau would be from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and is scheduled for 4:18 pm (Saturday, 4:19 pm UTC).
A treat . This is the 38th flight of a Delta IV rocket since 2002 and the 11th flight of the Delta IV Heavy variant with 3 cores, so if the sky is clear, this should be a spectacular start for the West Coast Delta IV heavy-starters are on the manifest, you can watch one before this big rocket retires sometime in the 2020s.
Next three starts
Dec. 7 : Long March 3B | Chang & # 39; e 4 Lander and Rover | Xichang Satellite Launch Center | 17:30 UTC
dec. 8 : Delta IV Heavy | Spy Vehicle NROL-71 | Air Force Base Vandenberg, California, | 04:19 UTC
Dec. 13 : Electron | ELaNa 19 mission | Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand | 04:00 UTC