Space transport roundup – March.5.2019

A sampling of recent items related to traveling to and through space:

** Randa Milliron and InterOrbital Systems are profiled in this article: The Rocket Woman and the Smallsat Invasion by Sarah Scoles — Winter 2019: The New Landscape in Space | The Wilson Quarterly

Their first simple launcher was a small suborbital rocket, meant to fly high, but not high enough to start circling Earth. Then came the TACHYON, made of tubes of propellant bundled against each other like firewood, rather than stacked like those of a traditional rocket. It also wasn’t meant for orbit, but the design allowed Interorbital to add and subtract the propellant tubes to make the rocket more or less powerful.

NEPTUNE, also a bundle of fire sticks, is the next step in the company’s evolution – and the rocket that will compete for DARPA’s attention. Intended to launch things much higher, the smallest configuration can get your little payload to low Earth orbit. If the Pentagon wanted to send a 20-kilogram spy satellite to take pictures from 310 miles above Earth, it could order such a configuration of the rocket. If – oops! – it actually wanted two satellites, it could just ask Interorbital to add more fire sticks.

A recent video from InterOrbital:

** The Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering (DARE) student team at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands is “one of the largest and most advanced student rocketry teams in the world”. Here is a video about a recent launch campaign:

This video describes DARE’s Stratos IV rocket, which they hope will reach space, i.e. exceed 100 km, in August 2019:

** Firefly Aerospace wins a launch contract with D-Orbit, an Italian company that provides a wide range of small satellite products and services: D-Orbit Signs Framework Agreement with Firefly to Acquire Launch Capacity – Firefly Aerospace

“We are proud of this partnership with Firefly, one of the most innovative small payload launch operators,” said Pietro Guerrieri, D-Orbit Chief Strategic Officer. “Capitalizing on the capabilities of ION CubeSat Carrier, our free-flying CubeSat deployer, we are expanding our launch services portfolio and taking an additional step in our roadmap to offer the New Space market an innovative launch transportation solution.”

“Firefly Alpha was specifically designed with the needs of our rideshare partners in mind,” said Firefly CEO Dr. Tom Markusic. “Alpha’s 630 kg to 500 km SSO capacity allows D-Orbit significant flexibility in manifesting missions. Our agreement with D-Orbit for up to fifteen launches over 5 years will allow their customers frequent, reliable access to space, on the schedule of their choosing and to the orbit that best matches their business needs.

See also Firefly inks deal with D-Orbit – Austin Business Journal.

** PLD Space tests parachute rocket recovery with an air drop test in Arizona. The Spanish company is developing reusable rockets, starting with the suborbital MIURA 1.

PLD Space performed on February 16th our Drop-Test 1 of the MIURA 1 suborbital launch vehicle, in close collaboration with Airborne Systems North America. The test was conducted in Eloy, Arizona Desert (AZ).

** Interstellar Technologies of Japan test fired the engine on March 1st on the company’s third MOMO suborbital rocket for the full duration needed during flight.

They will now move forward to the test flight. Last summer the second MOMO rocket failed shortly after liftoff:

The first MOMO launched in July of 2017 and flew for over a minute before a break in the telemetry communications connection caused a premature shutdown of the engine.

** SpaceX:

**** Crew Dragon docking to the ISS – more videos and articles:

Video of welcoming ceremony (the crew appears at 10:19):

ISS Expedition 58 crewmembers Anne McClain of NASA, Oleg Kononenko from Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques from the Canadian Space Agency during welcome ceremony for the DM-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon in the Node 2 module on Sunday, March 3, 2019.

Scott Manley discusses the Crew Dragon mission:

More at:

**** A view of the Crew Dragon launch from outside the Cape perimeter (via

**** More picts/vids of the Crew Dragon mission at

**** The booster from the launch of the Nusantara Satu satellite and SpaceIL spacecraft returns from Port Canaveral to the hangar (via

**** Latest views of activities at Boca Chica Beach:


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