A sampling of items related to traveling to and through space:
** Virgin Galactic pilots Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and CJ Sturckow received Commercial Astronaut Wings from the FAA for flying to space on SpaceShipTwo:
The SpaceShipTwo motor from the flight was also given some special recognition:
The rocket motor which powered SpaceShipTwo to space for the first time on December 13th last year, has been donated to the @Smithsonian @AirandSpace as an exhibit in their new Commercial Space Flight Gallery 😍 pic.twitter.com/0PMZPLHf6n
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) February 7, 2019
Richard Branson never ceases to be optimistic on flight schedules: Richard Branson says he’ll fly to space by July – AFP/phys.org.
** Orbex Space in the UK shows a
completed engineering prototype of the Stage 2 rocket (the stage that will transit into orbital flight after launch) [that] is made from a specially-formulated lightweight carbon fibre and aluminium composite and includes the world’s largest 3-D printed rocket engine.
More about the roll out:
- Orbex Unveils Prime Rocket at New Facility in Scotland | Orbex
- Orbex reveals Prime’s second stage as it prepares for UK domestic launches – NASASpaceFlight.com
- Orbex Space (@orbexspace) | Twitter
The first stage booster will be reusable. Orbex has not shown a prototype of the booster or given details about its design.
Orbex is aiming for the first orbital launch in 2021.
Orbex has also obtained launch contracts with two companies:
- SSTL Partners with Orbex for UK Launches | Orbex
- Orbex to Launch Nanosatellites for Planet-wide IoT Network | Orbex
** PLD Space of Spain also makes progress in development of a smallsat launcher with a reusable first stage booster:
As we promised. #MIURA5 Liquid Porpulsion Stage Recovery (LPSR) reusable booster demonstrator is under manufacturing. First stage of the launch vehicle will be integrated in 1month for a full-scale test in April. One of our major milestones this year. Exciting test to come. pic.twitter.com/b6Tw0dyORq
— PLD Space (@PLD_Space) February 7, 2019
Propellant loading underway to begin with #TEPREL-B flight qualification engine tests. Our first flight engine version. #Propulsion team is ready. Upgraded Teruel facilities also ready to support the test. #GoMIURA #GoPLD pic.twitter.com/TbpXDUripu
— PLD Space (@PLD_Space) February 8, 2019
** Intro to NASA’s Launch Services Program, which hires commercial rockets to launch the agency’s unmanned payloads:
** Space elevator proponents continue to pursue this replacement for rockets:
- Making Space Elevators a Reality – JHU Engineering Magazine
- Space Elevator: Bioengineering Approach Advanced – LeonardDavid.com
- Building the Space Elevator: Lessons from Biological Design – arxiv.org
From the magazine article:
While most engineered structures operate at a fraction of their material’s tensile strength—how far they can be pulled without breaking—most biological structures, such as tendons, operate near their max. That’s because biological structures are constantly breaking themselves down and rebuilding, which allows for continual repair.
Space elevators won’t require such a strong cable if the cable also continually renews itself, Sun and Popescu reason. This feat could be achieved, they suggest, by developing a cable that’s constantly serviced by autonomous robots. Rather than waiting for breaks in the cable, these robots can dynamically break down and rebuild the cable to make sure it’s always in good working order. This cable would be segmented so that if a break occurred, it wouldn’t extend beyond a small site, note the researchers, who recently reported their solution on the pre-print website arXiv.
*** Latest pictures of StarHopper work underway in Texas:
Topping out #StarHopper‘s business-end last couple days in South #TEXAS. Strong cold front blowing thru the Valley this morn after a few well above average highs lately. #FlyBocaChica #SpaceX (📷 credit: NSF/BocaChicaGal) pic.twitter.com/AjlqBko3EH
— Cowboy Dan (@CowboyDanPaasch) February 8, 2019
*** More about Raptor engine tests:
Raptor just achieved power level needed for Starship & Super Heavy pic.twitter.com/NcqnAVWc35
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2019
Design requires at least 170 metric tons of force. Engine reached 172 mT & 257 bar chamber pressure with warm propellant, which means 10% to 20% more with deep cryo.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2019
*** More on Crew Dragon demo mission scedule -test flight with no one onboard is now set for no earlier than March 2: First unpiloted test flight of SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule reset for March 2 – Spaceflight Now
*** Other SpaceX related items:
- SpaceX hints at mystery Falcon 9 missions with record breaking launch target – Teslarati
- SpaceX’s Mr. Steven crosses Panama Canal on 5000 mile journey to Florida – Teslarati
- SpaceX’s Starship prototype is looking increasingly rocket-like as hop test pad expands – Teslarati
- Special Report: SpaceX and Beyond – KVEO.com
- SpaceX Texas Launch Site Risks Being Split in Two by Border Wall – Bloomberg
** Rocket news included in the latest TMRO.tv space news report: SpaceX Engine Tests, ISRO Spaceflight, Lunar Craters and SpaceIL