Space transport roundup – Apr.30.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport:

** SpaceX Cargo Dragon launch delayed from Wednesday to at least Friday due to power problems on the ISS.

From SFN:

A SpaceX Dragon supply ship packed with nearly three tons of experiments, crew provisions and supplies will remain on the ground until at least Friday morning to allow more time for NASA flight controllers to troubleshoot a problem with an electrical distribution unit on the International Space Station.

Multiple sources said the commercial resupply launch, previously scheduled for Wednesday, will be pushed back at least two days to no earlier than Friday at 3:11 a.m. EDT (0711 GMT).

Find more SpaceX items below.

[ Update: Northrop Grumman has released this video about the first flight of the giant Stratolaunch aircraft:


** China launches two Tianhui II-01 satellites remote sensing satellites with little warning: China launches two satellites for scientific experiments – Xinhua |

Long March 4B rocket, with two Tianhui II-01 remote sensing sciencie satellites. Credits: Xinhua

Booster lands on a local village:

*** Update on Chinese launch startup companies who will one can hope will be less likely to drop boosters on communities:

** Interstellar Technologies MOMO 3 suborbital rocket launch was postponed from Tuesday due to a problem with an engine valve. The launch is now set for Thursday:

We are now targeting May 2nd for launch of MOMO third flight. A 75-minute launch window would open at 11:15 JST, 2:15 UTC.

** Firefly tests Alpha upper stage for full launch duration:

From Firefly:

Firefly has achieved a major milestone toward flight qualification of the Alpha second stage, supporting Firefly’s goal of Alpha first launch in 2019. A 300 second hotfire test of the complete upper stage was accomplished on the company’s vertical stage test stand. The length of the test successfully demonstrates the capability of the integrated system (flight avionics, structures, and propulsion systems) to operate for the duration of a flight mission (i.e., a mission duty cycle).

** Blue Origin hints at an announcement from Jeff Bezos on May 9th when he gives a talk at a satellite industry conference: Blue Origin tweets picture from Antarctic voyage, hinting at moon mission – GeekWire

*** Blue Origin facilities in Washington state expand: Construction is well under way for Blue Origin’s expanded HQ – GeekWire

** SpaceX:

*** Latest on Crew Dragon test explosion and status of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program:

*** Everyday Astronaut explains why launch abort towers are being replaced on crew vehicles by integrated liquid fuel engines: Why have SpaceX, Boeing & Blue Origin ditched abort towers? – Everyday Astronaut

There’s a new trend going around in the commercial space industry when it comes to launch abort systems. All three commercial companies who are putting abort systems on their crewed vehicles have ditched the classic launch abort tower we’ve seen dominate abort systems in the past. Previous vehicles like the Mercury capsule, the Apollo capsule and even the Soyuz all used an escape tower that sat on top of the crew module, capable of pulling the vehicle away from a failing rocket in a hurry.

*** Falcon Heavy core booster tested in preparation for the STP-2 Mission set for launch in June:

*** Falcon 9 booster spotted on way to Vandenberg AFB: SpaceX ships Falcon 9 booster west for second California launch of 2019 – Teslarati

Barring a surprise reassignment, the booster Joshuah Murrah caught is Falcon 9 B1051, on its way west some 50 days after successfully supporting Crew Dragon’s March 2nd launch debut. Despite the availability of B1046, B1047, and B1049, B1051 was assigned to the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM) shortly after landing aboard OCISLY, triggering major launch delays. The most logical explanation for customer CSA’s and satellite contractor Maxar Technologies’ curious decision is that they must believe that Falcon 9 Block 5 boosters with more than one launch in their past add more risk than those that do not.

*** Broken Falcon Heavy core prepared for departure from Port Canaveral:

*** FCC grants SpaceX permission to launch StarLink Internet satellites into an orbit lower than in the original plan:

In this Order and Authorization (Order), we grant the application1 of Space Exploration Holdings, LLC (SpaceX) to modify its previously authorized 4,425 non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite constellation using Ku- and Ka-band spectrum.2 Specifically, we authorize SpaceX to slightly reduce the number of satellites in this constellation, to operate a substantial portion of these satellites at a lower orbital altitude than previously authorized, and to include the use of Ku-band gateway earth stations for fewer than 75 of these lower-altitude satellites.3 Grant of this modification will allow SpaceX to make efficient use of valuable spectrum resources more safely, quickly, and cost-effectively as it initiates a new generation of broadband services available to customers worldwide, including those in areas previously underserved or even totally unserved by other broadband solutions.

A statement from SpaceX:

*** The first launch of operational Starlink satellites to this new orbital altitude is expected in May: SpaceX’s first batch of Starlink satellites already in Florida for launch debut – Teslarati

Above all else, SpaceX’s confirmation that the first batch of Starlink satellites are already in Florida drives home the reality that the company’s internet satellite constellation is about to become very real. Said constellation has long been the subject of endless skepticism and criticism, dominated by a general atmosphere of dismissal. There is no doubt that Starlink, as proposed, is an extraordinarily ambitious program that will cost billions of dollars to even begin to realize. SpaceX will have to find ways to affordably manufacture and launch ~11,900 satellites – together weighing something like 500 metric tons (1.1 million lbs) – in as few as nine years, start to finish.

*** Raptor engines tested for Starhopper flights : SpaceX wants to unleash Starhopper but longer Raptor test fires come first – Teslarati

According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the next round of Starhopper activity will focus on removing the spacecraft prototype’s tethers and performing far more substantial hop tests.

Longer tests demand that SpaceX begins expanding the known performance envelope of its full-scale Raptor engine. Towards that end, longer-duration tests would need to be done at the company’s McGregor, TX development facilities to reduce risk, tests that Musk confirmed are already well underway. A recent Raptor static fire reportedly lasted no less than 40 seconds, more than enough time for a single-engine Starhopper to significantly expand both the maximum altitude and velocity of future hop tests. In support of the upcoming Starhopper test campaign, significant construction work is also ongoing at SpaceX’s Boca Chica test and development facilities.

*** Progress on construction of the orbital Starship test vehicle continues at Boca Chica Beach:

*** Elon posts artwork for stainless steel Starships on the Moon and Mars:


Moon Rush: The New Space Race