A sampling of items regarding rockets, spaceships, etc:
** China’s Long March 5, the country’s largest heavy lift rocket, is set to launch again this year : China Plans Return-to-Flight of Long March-5 Booster – LeonardDavid.com
An essential launcher for China’s future space station and Moon exploration plans is being readied for a July flight.
The third Long March-5 takeoff follows a mishap of this booster-class on July 2, 2017. An intensive investigation was carried out to identify why the rocket failed less than six minutes after liftoff.
China’s Xinhua news agency reports that Yang Baohua, vice president of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), that the cause of the failure had been found.
2019 will be another busy launch year for China: China will attempt 30-plus launches in 2019, including crucial Long March 5 missions – SpaceNews.com.
And Chinese commercial launch companies are ramping up as well: Chinese companies OneSpace and iSpace are preparing for first orbital launches – SpaceNews.com.
** The USAF’s X-37 reusable spaceplane is still in orbit after nearly a year and a half: U.S. Air Force Space Plane Wings Past 500 days of Earth Orbiting – LeonardDavid.com
The secretive mission of a U.S. Air Force X-37B mini-space plane has winged past 500 days of flight. This robotic drone is performing classified duties during the program’s fifth flight.
This mission – tagged as Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-5) — was rocketed into Earth orbit on September 7, 2017 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
** Firefly Aerospace shows off an engine test:
Testing rocket engines never gets old. Ignition dramatically interrupts calm in different ways from day to day. This video shows LOx fog settling before ignition, then being rapidly carried away. #MakingSpaceForEveryone pic.twitter.com/ZhVsgBSTaV
— Firefly Aerospace (@Firefly_Space) January 29, 2019
** Vector Launch is testing as well:
Heres some long duration Vector-R stage 1 engine testing from earlier this evening for your viewing (and listening) pleasure (note we’re still working on perfecting image stabilization of our cameras at night with the high thrust engines) #NewSpaceRace pic.twitter.com/AuruLYjvVg
— VECTOR (@vectorspacesys) January 25, 2019
*** A local TV news station reports on activity at the SpaceX launch facility near Brownsville, Texas:
*** The first Falcon Heavy commercial mission, and the second flight of the launch system, looks to happen in March and a third flight with mostly military payloads could happen in April: After government re-opened, SpaceX sought two Falcon Heavy permits | Ars Technica
Of potentially more interest are applications for two permits related to the launch of the next Falcon Heavy mission, Arabsat 6A, and the landing of two side boosters and the central core. These applications indicate that the launch of the Arabsat 6A mission will occur no earlier than March 7 from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. This is consistent with existing estimates for the current launch date.
The landing permit also confirms that SpaceX will seek to land the two side boosters at its landing zone along the Florida coast—setting up for a repeat of the dramatic side-by-side landings during the inaugural Falcon Heavy test flight last February. The company will also attempt to land the center core on an ocean-based drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,000km offshore. During the first test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket, SpaceX narrowly missed landing the center core.
There is a lot riding on these landings, as SpaceX intends to reuse both the side boosters and the center core for its third Falcon Heavy mission, Space Test Program-2. This flight could occur as early as April, although some slippage to the right seems likely, as a one-month turnaround of three boosters is ambitious. The payloads for this ride-share mission, bought by the US Air Force, include six weather research satellites, several demonstration missions, and academic projects.
- SpaceX workers cap Starship with tank dome as Raptor arrivals and hop tests near – Teslarati.com
- SpaceX BFS – Phase 1 Big Falcon Hopper (BFH) – Photos and Updates.
- Austin Barnard (@austinbarnard45) | Twitter
- Cowboy Dan (@CowboyDanPaasch) | Twitter
*** Two Falcon 9 missions are set for February:
- Feb.18: Indonesia’s PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara GEO comm-sat + SpaceIL lunar lander. SpaceIL is a non-profit Israeli endeavor that sought the Google Lunar XPRIZE but has continued after the GLXP expired.
- Feb.23: Crew Dragon Demo 1 is an unmanned test of the Dragon Crew system, which will dock with the ISS. If the mission goes well, the first crew flight should happen early this summer.
*** The Falcon 9 fairing catcher ship is traveling from the West Coast to Florida, where it will have more opportunities to use its net to snag nose-cone fairings ejected from the rockets during satellite launches: SpaceX fairing catcher Mr. Steven heads for Panama Canal after one last drop test – Teslarati.com
Iconic fairing recovery vessel Mr. Steven appears to have quietly departed for SpaceX’s Florida launch facilities a few days after completing (successfully or not) one final controlled fairing catch test in the Pacific Ocean.
While bittersweet for those that have closely followed the vessel’s development and many attempted Falcon fairing recoveries, this move should ultimately give Mr. Steven around three times as many opportunities to attempt fairing recoveries thanks to SpaceX’s significantly higher East Coast launch cadence.
For updates on Mr. Steven, check out: SpaceXFleet Updates (@SpaceXFleet) | Twitter.
** Other items:
- Blue Origin:
- Virgin Galactic trims staff:
- More on the Stratolaunch rocket development cancellation:
- Arianespace tests a solid-fueled rocket booster that will be used on the Ariane 6 rocket: