Space transport roundup – June.11.2019

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

[ Update June.12.2019: The launch and deployment of the three RadarSat Constellation spacecraft were successful. Also, the booster landed safely back at Vandenberg AFB, which was fogged in during both the launch and landing.


** SpaceX Falcon 9 to launch with 3 RadarSat Constellation spacecraft on Wednesday during the window 7:17-7:30 am PDT (10:17-10:30 am EDT; 1417-1430 GMT) from Vandenberg AFB in California. The SpaceX webcast will start about 15 minutes before liftoff. Info on the mission is provide by the SpaceX RadarSat launch press kit.

More below in the SpaceX section.

** Relativity Space will 3D print and assemble rockets at Mississippi factory:

Via MDA:

Aerospace company Relativity is expanding its rocket component production and rocket engine testing operations at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. The project is a $59-million corporate investment and will create 190 jobs, increasing employment at Relativity’s Stennis Space Center site to 200 workers.

With this expansion, Relativity is increasing infrastructure to more than 350,000 square feet of operations, production, testing and launch facilities. In the past year, the company has increased its employment from 14 to 90 workers. Relativity became the first venture-backed company to secure a launch site Right of Entry at Cape Canaveral Launch Complex-16 from the U.S. Air Force and has a 20-year exclusive-use Commercial Space Launch Act agreement at Stennis Space Center’s E4 test complex, as well as membership on the National Space Council advising the White House.

Relativity will activate its manufacturing equipment in July and plans to complete development of the world’s first 3D-printed rocket, Terran 1, in 2020. The company is on track to conduct its first orbital test launch at the end of 2020 and enter commercial service in 2021. 

** The SpaceShipCompany is building more SpaceShipTwo rocketplanes in Mojave, California for Virgin Galactic:

** An Embry-Riddle student team fires a liquid-fueled rocket engine, which they designed and built:

** The Stanford Student Space Initiative (SSI) also fires a liquid fueled engine that they designed and built:

** Equatorial Space Industries is a Singapore-based rocket start-up that’s developing the Volans Block 1 vehicle, powered by a hybrid motor (Paraffin/LOX), for smallsat launch services.

Volans Block 1 Rocket“Named after southern sky’s constellation representing a flying fish, Volans
is a two-stage, hybrid-propelled launch vehicle capable of delivering
20-70kg of payload to a wide range of orbits.”

The company had a successful fund-raising round earlier this year: Equatorial Space Industries Secures Angel Funding – SpaceWatch.Global. The unspecified amount of money will

… support development of ESI’s upcoming suborbital SHARP (Suborbital Hybrid Ascent and Recovery Program) vehicle slated to fly in early 2020. The vehicle’s engine will use liquid Nitrous Oxide as compared Liquid Oxygen used in the previous v.2.2 Engine ground prototype, and will be capable of in-flight restartability.

The location of the test flight, as well as cooperation and arrangements with local suppliers and authorities, will be revealed in the next few months. ESI’s Volans microlauncher is expected to conduct its first test flight in 2021 from a yet-to-be determined location in the APAC region.

** Misc:

** SpaceX:

*** Falcon 9 booster will attempt to land back at Vandenberg after liftoff with the 3 RadarSat Constellation spacecraft:

The booster, which will be on its second flight, was test fired on the VAFB pad last Saturday: SpaceX static fires Falcon 9 for West Coast pad’s second booster landing ever – Teslarati

*** SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch of USAF STP-2 mission now set for the evening of June 24th from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center sometime between 11:30 pm-3:30 am EDT (0330-0730 GMT on 25th). This will be the 3rd launch of the FH and will carry 24 different satellites, most of which were funded by the USAF but also includes satellites from NASA, NOAA, and several universities.

The Planetary Society will also be flying the LightSail 2 solar light powered vehicle on the FH: LightSail 2 Has a New Launch Date! – The Planetary Society

*** SpaceX raises funding for new projects: SpaceX worth $33B after raising more than $1B for Starlink and Starship – Teslarati

Since April 2018, SpaceX has successfully raised more than $1.24 billion through the sale of equity, likely sold to investors by extrapolating the company’s current record of success to include the potential of its next two products, Starlink and Starship.

Thanks to SpaceX’s successful streak of fundraising, the company is now valued at $33.3 billion according to sources that spoke with CNBC reporter Michael Sheetz. The same source indicated that demand for SpaceX equity remains strong as the company seeks to continue extremely expensive development and production programs. Most notably, SpaceX is simultaneously building two full-scale orbital Starship prototypes at separate facilities in Texas and Florida, readying an earlier Starhopper testbed for serious test flights, and is in the midst of ramping up its Starlink satellite production to levels unprecedented in the history of spaceflight.

*** Starhopper still waiting for the Raptor engine that will power its low altitude test flights: SpaceX testing rescheduled – Brownsville Herald

According to the notice, State Highway 4 to Boca Chica Beach is scheduled to close from 2 to 8 p.m. on June 17 and/or in the alternative during the same time period on June 18 and/or June 19.

*** Views of Starhopper and Starship Orbital demo vehicle activities recently at the Boca Chica Beach, Texas facilities:

*** And some photos of the second Starship demonstrator under construction in Cocoa Beach, Florida:



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