Space transport roundup – April.16.2019

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

** Northrop-Grumman Antares set to launch Cygnus cargo vehicle to the ISS from Wallops Island, Virginia on Wednesday, April 17th at 4:46 p.m. EDT (2046 GMT): U.S. Resupply Ship Poised for Launch as Crew Studies Life Science – Space Station/NASA

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft is seen during sunrise on Pad-0A, Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 11th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station will deliver about 7,600 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Cygnus will

will deliver about 7,600 pounds of science, supplies and hardware to the orbital residents. Flight Engineer Anne McClain, with astronaut David Saint-Jacques backing her up, will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus Friday about 5:30 a.m. [EDT].

NASA TV will webcast the launch.

** A review of rocket designs chosen by Chinese commercial launch startups: The Technical Choices of China’s NewSpace Launcher Companies in 2019 – The China Aerospace Blog

… a good half of these startups (7 out of 11) are also developing liquid propulsion. This is partly due to the intrinsic performance, but also the possibility to be reusable (although solid systems can sometimes also be refurbished, such as the Space Shuttle SRBs). Reusability actually seems to be one of the dominant reasons, as nearly all liquid propulsion rockets are being developed with a reusable design, often based on the return of the first stage through retropropulsive landing. It is striking to see the extent of the consensus around SpaceX’s business model within the Chinese private sector, while heated debates in Europe and Russia still take place on its sustainability.

** DARPA’s Launch Challenge competition aims to support companies developing rockets that can “demonstrate flexible and responsive launch capabilities in days, not years” –

** SpaceX:

**** Falcon Heavy Core damaged in fall as heavy seas rolled the sea platform on which it landed last week:

“Over the weekend, due to rough sea conditions, SpaceX’s recovery team was unable to secure the center core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral,” said James Gleeson, a SpaceX spokesperson. “As conditions worsened with eight to ten foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was unable to remain upright.

“While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence,” Gleeson said in a statement. “We do not expect future missions to be impacted.”

Elon Musk later tweeted that the “Engines seem ok, pending inspection”. There are reports that the rocket is lying horizontal on the platform so we’ll see the level damage when the platform returns to Port Canaveral. Though the vehicle is unlikely to fly again, having the core will be useful to SpaceX to examine to better understand the wear and tear that it endured during the flight. Also, perhaps some components like the engines can be reused.

**** FH fairings returned to Port Canaveral. As mentioned in the previous roundup, Elon Musk says the fairings will be used for a Falcon 9 launch of the company’s Starlink Internet satellites:

**** A nice collection of videos and images of the FH launch and boosters landings:  SpaceX’s flawless Falcon Heavy Block 5 launch and landing in pictures – Teslarati

**** Cargo Dragon flight to the ISS set to launch on April 26th from Cape Canaveral at 5:55 am EDT (0955 GMT). This will be the 17th operational Dragon mission to the ISS.

**** A giant space telescope a good fit for the Starship. Most all of the mainstream space industry and government agencies are going out of their way to pretend the Super Heavy Booster/Starship project doesn’t exist. So while this is just a graphic done for fun, it’s nevertheless a bit of a surprise that even a lower level group at NASA would dare to show the proposed LUVOIR telescope in a Starship:


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