Rocket Report: Virgin Galactic delayed again, June targeted for next SLS test

Enlarge / Tory Bruno this week shared an image of a brightly painted Vulcan rocket first stage tank on Twitter.

Curator Bruno

Welcome to Rocket Report 4.42! I’m sorry to say that there will be no Rocket Report next week as I will be traveling to Washington, DC to attend the Ars Frontiers conference on Thursday. I will speak with former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver about commercial spaceflight and an esteemed panel about the space debris problem.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please sign up using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP versions of the site). Each report will contain information on small, medium and heavy rockets as well as a quick overview of the next three launches on the schedule.

Rocket Lab catches a booster from the sky. For the first time on Monday night, Rocket Lab attempted to catch the first stage falling from its Electron Thruster with a helicopter. And briefly, he was successful with that in-flight recovery, Ars reports. As the rocket descended under its main parachute at about 10 meters per second, a drug parachute trailed behind with a 50-meter line. A Sikorsky S-92 helicopter followed this descending rocket, and it too had a 50-meter line with a hook at its end.

Sounds like an easy fix … “It’s a bit like ghost hunters in a way,” Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, said in a call with reporters Monday night. “You want those two streams to intersect. Those two lines cross and slide over each other and then there’s a grappling hook and a grab.” That’s exactly what happened on Monday before the helicopter pilots felt the charge. induced on the vehicle was outside of what was predicted in the simulations, so they jettisoned the rocket, where it was recovered at sea. attempt to recover Electron should be “trivial” (submitted by platykurtic, Ken the Bin and EllPeaTea)

Angara 1.2 takes off successfully. Last Friday, the Russian Angara 1.2 rocket launched a payload for the Russian Aerospace Forces during its operational flight. Previously, the Angara rocket performed a suborbital test flight to verify that all systems were working, as well as three test flights of the A5 variant to prove its ability to launch payloads into geostationary orbit, NASASpaceflight.com reports. . The mission was launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

Small and large versions … While the Angara 1.2 can only launch 3,800 kg into low Earth orbit, the most capable version, the Angara A5, has performed the majority of Angara missions to date. Angara A5 uses four strapped URM-1s, a larger second stage, and can choose to use a third stage depending on mission requirements. It is the first of three Angara launches scheduled for 2022, with another launch planned for Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, and a commercial flight for South Korea. (submitted by EllPeaTea and Ken the Bin)

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Virgin Galactic delays start of commercial service. In its first quarter 2022 financial results published on Thursday, Virgin Galactic announced its intention to resume flights of its VSS unit spacecraft in the fourth quarter of 2022 and begin commercial service in the first quarter of 2023. Previously, the company had planned to begin commercial flights before the end of this year. “Amid escalating supply chain and labor constraints, our teams are getting the majority of these issues under control to minimize the impact on schedules,” said Vigin Galatic CEO. , Michael Colglazier.

It’s not a question of demand … Virgin Galactic reported a net loss of $93 million in the first quarter of this year, but said demand for its services was strong and it had “cash equivalents, cash subject to restrictions and marketable securities of $1.22 billion”. The problem for Virgin Galactic is not the demand, the problem is whether it can meet that demand with a vehicle that to date has had a very low theft rate compared to the company’s projections. . Now, it will be at least another year before we begin to get an answer to this question.

Canada’s spaceport appoints launch tenant. A spaceport under development in Nova Scotia, Canada, this week named the first launch company to use the facility. Reaction Dynamics, which is based in Quebec, plans to launch its small hybrid-fuel rocket as early as 2024, reports the Toronto Star. “Canada’s first launch will include a Canadian launch site, a Canadian launch vehicle — Reaction Dynamics — and Canadian satellites,” said Stephen Matier, spaceport developer at Maritime Launch Services.

There are a few caveats … I should probably note that the Nova Scotia Spaceport has yet to be built and there is some local opposition to the project. Also, this is the first time I’ve heard of Reaction Dynamics. And with no disrespect, company founder Bachar Elzein appears to have started the company after working as a research assistant at Polytechnique Montreal. And according to his LinkedIn page, the company’s “propulsion test manager” appears to have worked as a ski instructor for two years before joining the company. So 2024? Maybe not. (submitted by JoeySIV-B)

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