February 15, 2021: After weather delays on previous attempts (one of which would have been visible over the Daytona 500), SpaceX got the next batch of 60 starlinks flying. While the primary mission was a success, the first stage booster was lost after an unknown anomaly occurred around the time of the entry burn.
This week the Independent Enquiry Commission (IEC), set up by ESA and ArianeSpace, released their findings and future roadmap after the loss of the VV17 mission. The launch had failed back on November 17, resulting in the loss of the two payloads on board. The loss also came on only the second flight after another Vega loss in July 2019.
With reusing rockets becoming the new trend in spaceflight, it’s no surprise that the European Space Agency (ESA) is developing the capability for themselves. The development is spurred on by the same reason as everyone else: cost savings. The ability to reuse a booster turns into savings for the manufacturer and lowers cost to orbit for the customer.
The newly-formed U.S. Space Force is in the market for a new headquarters, and they’re closer to making a choice of where it should be located. The team in charge of making the decision is touring the small list of existing installations and doing evaluations both in-person and virtually.
After a scrub on Friday, SpaceX successfully launched the SXM-7 satellite for SiriusXM on a bright and sunny Florida morning. Maxar technologies built the satellite as an upgrade to the existing fleet. Liftoff was at 12:30 EST followed by a successful first stage landing and payload deployment.
In the coming months, Launch Complex 48 (LC-48) will become as talked about as all of the other launchpads on Florida’s Space Coast. NASA has been working on the development of this pad to be used by multiple launch providers with smaller classes of rockets. According to a press release issued today, they’ve set a limit of 500,000 pounds of thrust or less at liftoff.
The booster that recently launched CRS-21 also happens to be the same booster used to launch SpaceX’s DM-2 mission with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. To commemorate the mission, SpaceX painted NASA’s iconic worm and meatball logos on each side of the booster.
SpaceX will soon conduct its 21st mission for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program. While it’s hardly SpaceX’s first cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station, CRS-21 is notable for being the first flight of SpaceX’s redesigned Dragon 2 spacecraft.
The second round of Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) missions is set to begin with CRS-21. This will be SpaceX’s 21st mission for the service, and it’ll be the first flight of SpaceX’s Dragon 2 capsule which looks like the Crew Dragon variant but stripped down inside for cargo missions.
In a time where we routinely see launches on rockets named Atlas, Falcon, and Electron, the Delta IV Heavy is a rare bird for a number of reasons. United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy, as its name implies, is the company’s heavy lift launch vehicle.
It’s the big brother of the Delta IV medium that has since been retired and had its last flight in August 2019. In fact, the heavy variant of the Delta IV series is on its way out as well: ULA’s new Vulcan rocket system will pick up where Delta IV Heavy leaves off.
NASA has closed its space center in Mississippi and secured a critical piece of Moon-bound rocket hardware ahead of Hurricane Sally’s impact on the Gulf Coast this week. Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi is home to the B-2 Test Stand where NASA engineers have been busy testing the rocket core stage for Space Launch System.
Hurricane Sally is expected to make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane (96-110 mph wind speeds) Tuesday night before weakening to a tropical storm on Wednesday. The current trajectory shows Stennis Space Center directly in the storm’s path.
The first Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) for the inaugural flight of SLS may be done and ready for Artemis I, but NASA contractor Northrup Grumman continues to try to make it better. Today, they successfully fired an upgraded version of their booster for use in missions beyond Artemis III, presumably for deep space missions like Europa Clipper.
On the outside, the Ariane 5 can easily be mistaken for any generic rocket but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Arianespace’s largest launcher falls into the heavy-lift category of rockets and it regularly flexes its might. And it does it in a unique way.
The sharp downturn of the stock market in recent months brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has brought a slew of new casual investors hoping to capitalize on the rebound. Thanks to apps like Robinhood with free commission trading, people from all different walks of life are trying to turn a negative into a positive. Those involved in spaceflight are no exception, whether they’re employed in the industry or just enthusiasts.
Over a year after the failed launch of the FalconEye 1 satellite for the United Arab Emirates, Arianespace is ready to return its Vega launch vehicle to operational status. The flight was originally planned for earlier this year but after multiple scrubs due to winds, Arianespace decided to postpone it until a period of more favorable seasonal weather conditions.
Update August 4: Arianespace has announced that they have set a NET date of August 14th to try again for launch.
Update August 2: The Ariane 5 launch vehicle is being returned to the assembly building to replace the troublesome sensor. A new launch date is expected to be announced on August 3rd, according to Arianespace.
Arianespace scrubbed its launch of the Ariane 5 today. The countdown was proceeding smoothly until just over two minutes when the “board” (a screen showing the different launch systems and weather and their status for launch) showed red for one of the launch systems. Teams paused the countdown and tried to resolve the trouble before the 40+ minute launch window closed but were unable to resolve the issue.
A statement later said that a sensor in the first stage liquid hydrogen tank was to blame. In that same statement, Arianespace said that the next launch opportunity would be at 5:30 EDT on Saturday, August 1st, however, at the time of writing, they have not said whether or not the issue had been resolved and they would be able to launch at the next window. This article will be updated as needed.