May 18, 2022

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Rocket Report: NASA Buys SpinLaunch, Space Force Copper Visits Starbase

Rocket Report: NASA Buys SpinLaunch, Space Force Copper Visits Starbase

Zoom / A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Endeavor spacecraft await the launch of the Axiom-1 crew on Friday.

Trevor Mahleman

Welcome to Rocket Report 4.38! We’re already in the second quarter of 2022, it’s hard to believe. This means that several companies aspiring to launch new rockets this year, including United Launch Alliance, ABL Space Systems, Relativity Space and Arianespace, have been out of business for less than nine months.

As usual we Readers’ offers are welcomeAnd if you don’t want to miss any issue, please sign up using the box below (the form won’t appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small, medium and heavy missiles as well as a quick look at the next three launches in the calendar.

Missile lab is ready to take over helicopters. After several test runs, Rocket Lab announced that it will attempt to capture the first stage of the Electron missile in midair for the first time. The company will make the attempt during its next flight, with a launch window opening on April 19 for a “there and back again” mission to deploy 34 small satellites. After the first stage completes the boost stage, at 2 minutes 30 seconds, it will separate and begin descending at speeds of up to 8300 km/h.

Falling, spinning, catching? …nominally, a bicycle parachute should deploy at 13 km, followed by the rocket’s main parachute at around 6 km to slow the stage dramatically to 10 meters per second. As the stage enters the capture area, the Rocket Lab’s Sikorsky S-92 helicopter will attempt to meet the return stage and capture the parachute line via a hook. If successful, Rocket Lab engineers and technicians will perform a thorough analysis of the stage and assess its suitability for re-flying. Happy hunting, rocket lab! (Submitted by Ken Ben Watfargo 04)

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Georgia spaceport back from the dead? In March, voters in Camden County, Georgia, voted overwhelmingly 78 to 22 percent to prevent the local government from purchasing 4,000 acres of land for a vertical spaceport. But some county officials didn’t seem to get the message. Now, says Steve Howard, Camden County Manager and Spaceport Camden Project Director, officials from Spearhead Capital will host a public workshop session with the county commission. During this session on April 7, they will discuss the creation of a special fund to collect funds from private investors, Local TV station reports.

Ignore the will of the public Howard said… “We are excited to hear from this company next week; what their vision is and how they can align well with the PPP opportunity that we think would be great to take advantage of.” To date, the county has spent more than seven years and more than $10 million developing the Spaceport project. It seems to me somewhat strange that local officials are pursuing this project so vigorously that the public is so opposed to it. (Provided by zapman987)

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

The United Arab Emirates tends to the space sector. Over the next decade, the UAE plans to invest more than $800 million in the private space sector to develop the country’s capabilities in space. Dedicated economic zones for space activities will be established across Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah to allow startups and established companies to set up their operations, National News reports. The country seeks to support the commercial space industry through a series of public-private partnerships.

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Sub-orbital launch, at least … “Some of the greatest private companies in space today, for example, SpaceX, would not have achieved the incredible success they are today and pushed the boundaries of innovation without the support of NASA and government contracts,” said Ibrahim Al Qassim, Executive Director of the Emirates Space Agency. It’s clear if the country has any orbital launch ambitions, but it’s already working with Blue Origin to support the New Shepard sub-orbital space tourism system.(Provided by EllPeaTea)

SpinLaunch to fly NASA payload on test flight. NASA signed off on launching a payload using a sub-orbital kinetic energy-based system developed by a California-based company SpinLaunch. The test flight, expected later this year, will “provide valuable information to NASA for potential future commercial launch opportunities,” SpinLaunch representatives Tell Space.com. That NASA is moving this mission through its Flight Opportunities program is interesting because there is a fair amount of skepticism in the space industry about SpinLaunch’s approach.

spin to win? …the company’s strategy includes accelerating rockets to enormous speeds on the ground, using a rotating arm, and then propelling them toward the sky (Great wallpaper here from Scott Manley). The launch vehicles will then light their engines when they are already in the sky, drastically reducing the amount of fuel and instrumentation — and therefore money — needed to reach orbit. But, Video of a test flight The one that the company released last November wasn’t overly impressive. The company claims it will be ready for orbital flights by 2025. (Provided by Tfargo04 and Ken the Bin)

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Astra reports operational progress. First successful delivery of commercial satellites to low Earth orbit, small launch company Astra published a blog post Thursday, with the aim of demonstrating its increased operational efficiency. “This is the ultimate measurement we can provide to our customers,” wrote Bryson Gentile, the company’s vice president of operations. “We have worked to reduce the number of days between launches and hope that this trend will continue.”

More missiles, fewer delays … In its post, the company demonstrated both an increased firing cadence and a higher production rate for its Rocket 3. Astra said it is currently producing a missile per month and aims to increase that rate later in 2022. Astra has also released other metrics that show it is disrupting operations, noting that While her LV0007 attempt required 10 days of steady fire and countdown activities, these activities were completed within 2 days of the LV0009’s final mission. (Provided by Ken Ben)