A selection of recent items related to space access:
** ISRO flew the latest version of the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) launched on Thursday and put a military spysat (Microsat-R) and a student developed technology demo spacecraft (Kalamsat-V2) successfully into orbit:
- PSLV-C44 successfully launched Microsat-R and Kalamsat-V2 – ISRO
- India debuts new version of workhorse PSLV – Spaceflight Now
- PSLV launches debut orbital platform use of the fourth stage – NASASpaceFlight.com
** Scott Manley gives a
round up of big space news stories, with Blue Origin flying its first commercial mission while Elon Musk Starship Hopper falls over in high winds. We also got the details on why building the Super Heavy Booster from stainless steel was ‘counter intuitive. Stratolaunch’s Roc looks like it’s becoming the modern equivalent of the Spruce Goose and Vector Space Systems gears up for a test launch.
We have a lean and mighty team in mission control on launch day – about 30 people who operate New Shepard. Meet our teammate Laura who, like all of us at Blue, is focused on lowering the cost of access to space.
New Shepard’s reusability is lowering launch costs and creating routine access to space. Lowering the cost of microgravity research increases the opportunities for universities, government researchers and entrepreneurs to test payloads and technologies in space.
When we delivered New Shepard PM 4 to our West Texas launch site in December, it was the first time we had two rockets in the barn in Texas. We’re building our fleet of versatile reusable launch vehicles step-by-step as we move towards operations.
Blue Origin demonstrated the versatility of the New Shepard system by taking 8 NASA-sponsored research and technology payloads into space today.
*** A pad test firing was carried out at Cape Kennedy on Jan.24th of the Falcon 9 that is to send the first Dragon-2 vehicle to dock with the ISS. The demo mission, which will have no astronauts on board, is currently expected to happen sometime in the second half of February.
- Falcon 9 rocket fires engines in key test ahead of Crew Dragon demo flight – Spaceflight Now
- SpaceX conducts static fire test on Falcon 9 ahead of Crew Dragon debut – NASASpaceFlight.com
The firing starts at around 3:22 into this video from Florida Today:
*** Elon Musk explains why the structure of the SuperHeavy/Starship reusable space transport system has been changed from carbon composite to stainless steel:
- Elon Musk Interview: Why the Starship Is Built of Stainless Steel – Popular Mechanics
- SpaceX CEO Elon Musk teases white-hot Starship heat shield testing in video
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 25, 2019
*** A drone view on Thursday of the Boca Chica Beach facility shows the collapsed nose-cone section of the StarHopper, which was blown over earlier this week (see Scott Manley’s report above), under the roof of the open shelter:
Find latest images and videos of the facility and StarHopper at:
- SpaceX BFS – Phase 1 Big Falcon Hopper (BFH) – Photos and Updates.
- Austin Barnard (@austinbarnard45) | Twitter
- Cowboy Dan (@CowboyDanPaasch) | Twitter
*** Top of a propellant tank was added to the lower section:
— Cowboy Dan (@CowboyDanPaasch) January 25, 2019
*** Fairing catching practice continues in California:
- SpaceX isn’t giving up on catching rocket fairings, boat spotted with new net – Teslarati
- SpaceXFleet Updates (@SpaceXFleet) | Twitter
Helicopter Drop Test Coming Up! Mr Steven has departed LA to make a catch attempt later today. Tug Sir Richard is already at Santa Catalina Island towing the test fairing. pic.twitter.com/Mlwk4d2anu
— SpaceXFleet Updates (@SpaceXFleet) January 25, 2019
** Tom Mueller, head of SpaceX propulsion since the founding of the company, reviews the history of the Merlin engine, which powers both stages of the Falcon 9 rocket. He was accepting an award from the National Space Society at the NSS’s annual ISDC meeting last May. (Mueller’s comments start at 5:25):