A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport:
** Russian Soyuz launches 33 satellites last wee including the primary Meteor-M No.2-2 weather satellite and 32 smallsats from a host of countries and organizations:
- Soyuz rocket and Fregat upper stage deliver 33 satellites to three different orbits – Spaceflight Now
- Soyuz-2-1B launches Meteor-M No.2-2 and numerous secondary payloads – NASASpaceFlight.com
A busy month planned for Russian rockets: Russia plans seven space launches in July – TASS
** PLD Space releases video of a high altitude drop in April of a demo booster for the MIURA 5 orbital rocket, which will have a reusable first stage booster: Successful drop test of the demonstrator of the first stage of MIURA 5 – PLD Space
Drop Test of the demonstrator of the first stage of MIURA 5 orbital microlauncher. This project was part of ESA’s FLPP-LPSR programme. PLD Space successfully completed in April the first drop test with a full-scale demonstrator of the first stage of the MIURA 5 orbital rocket. As a result, we have documented assessment of all the recovery and reusable technologies that will help PLD Space to develop its recovery and reusability technology roadmap. One step closer to reusability in Europe!
With this, we have validated many operational procedures, including all recovery and reusability steps, as well as the telemetry down-links, among others. This project is part of the FLPP-LPSR program, promoted by the European Space Agency (ESA), supported by CDTI, INTA, Ejército de Tierra #FAMET #BHELTRAV and with the participation of Tecnalia.
** Amateur spacecraft observers capture images of the X-37B spaceplane: Mysterious X-37B Military Space Plane Caught on Camera (Photo) – Space.com
** Rocket Crafters thruster demos suffer various glitches: Cocoa-based Rocket Crafters working through issues ahead of 2021 debut – Florida Today
Check out this ❄️ frosted 🚀 engine while being test fired – our liquid oxygen (LOX) cooling design is so effective that the temperature of the LOX after cooling the engine rose only to -148F while combustion inside the engine is at more than 5,300F. 3D @EOSGmbH by @3T_am_ltd pic.twitter.com/jXmN0vvPkr
— LAUNCHER (@launcher) July 3, 2019
An exciting morning at @RocketCrafters: A test firing of the company’s STAR-3D hybrid engine was safely aborted ~1.5 seconds post-ignition — still enough time for my cameras to capture images! I look forward to following & watching Rocket Crafters grow in the coming years. pic.twitter.com/lsLmFFGw56
— John Kraus (@johnkrausphotos) July 3, 2019
** System for long duration in-space storage for cryogenic propellants has been developed by a Chinese team: Scientists make breakthrough that enables rockets to orbit longer – Xinhua
Scientists from the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology have developed two insulating materials that can reduce propellant evaporation loss and keep rockets in flight for longer than before.
According to Zhang Shaohua, a member of the research team, a cryogenic rocket will face a severe thermal environment when it flies in orbit, which will cause lots of propellant evaporation, accelerate propellant loss and reduce the time in orbit.
Long term cryogenic propellant storage is important for space tugs and fuel depots.
** Canadian SpaceRyde developing a high-altitude balloon rocket launch system for orbiting smallsats:
- SpaceRyde wants to make access to space more available and more affordable | TechCrunch
- SpaceRyde Releases Video of First Test Flight – SpaceQ
** The latest on space elevators: ISEC Space Elevator Newsletter July 2019
According to Pete Swan, president of the ISEC (Int. Space Elevator Consortium), the development of space elevators is “Closer than you Think”:
There are two factors that lead to this conclusion:
The first is that the material for space elevator tethers has been discovered and is in the laboratory now. Single Crystal Graphene has been developed towards a continuous growth production concept (grow a single molecule very long – hundreds of meters) (currently at 0.5 x 0.1 meter single molecule one atom thick in laboratories). Adrian Nixon projected that future of very long molecules during his talk at our recent ISEC Webinar. The material is going to be available in the required strength and length for space elevators.
The second is that we (ISEC with the other organizations such as IAA, Obayashi Corporation, and JSEA) have conducted engineering studies and testing showing great progress across the engineering design segments of a space elevator. The following year long (IAAs and Obayashi were multi-year) studies have lead to the conclusion that the space elevator is ready to start testing the technologies needed inside each of its major segments and regions.
The 2018 ISEC Space Elevator Conference will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington over August 16-18.
*** Launch contracts:
- SpaceX’s flight-proven Falcon 9 snags NASA launch contract, second of 2019 – Teslarati
- NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Astrophysics Mission – NASA
- SpaceX wins NASA contract to launch X-ray telescope on reused rocket – Spaceflight Now
To add to this: NASA says SpaceX can use a previously flown booster on this mission.
IXPE is a small satellite, but this launch contract is less than what NASA paid for for the still-pending Pegasus XL launch of ICON ($56.3M in a 2014 contract). Think about that… https://t.co/sJlWVMHC5c
— Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) July 8, 2019
*** Practicing for Crew Dragon docking to the ISS: NASA, SpaceX Simulate Astronauts Docking to Station on Crew Dragon Spacecraft – Commercial Crew Program
NASA and SpaceX practiced Crew Dragon rendezvous and docking to the International Space Station during a virtual dress rehearsal on June 26 for the company’s first crew flight test, known as Demo-2, to the microgravity laboratory
The activity is part of a series of integrated simulations bringing together NASA and SpaceX flight control teams to complete multiple practice runs for each dynamic phase of a mission from launch to splashdown. These simulations provide the teams plenty of practice to ensure they safely and successfully perform the planned operations of the actual spaceflight, with opportunities to fine-tune their procedures and gain experience on how to solve problems should they arise.
*** Views of a recovered Falcon fairing: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy fairing tries to enter hyperspace, lands in net in new videos – Teslarati. Here Scott Manley discusses the fairing return videos:
*** Raptor engine debugging nearly done: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says major Starship engine bug is fixed as Raptor testing continues – Teslarati
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has revealed the latest official photo of the company’s Raptor engine in action and indicated that a major technical issue with vibration appears to have been solved, hopefully paving the way for Starhopper’s first untethered flights.
Partly due to Musk’s own involvement in the program, SpaceX’s propulsion development team have struggled to get any single Raptor engine to survive more than 50-100 seconds of cumulative test fires. According to information from sources familiar with the program, Musk has enforced an exceptionally hardware-rich development program for the first full-scale Raptor engines to such an extent that several have been destroyed so completely that they could barely be used to inform design optimization work. Although likely more strenuous and inefficient than it needed to be, the exceptionally hardware-rich test program appears to have begun to show fruit, with the sixth engine built (SN06) passing its first tests without exhibiting signs of a problem that has plagued most of the five Raptors that came before it.
A Tweet from Elon on the rocket engine development process:
Between first development engine & first flight engine with operational payload, there are always hundreds of changes to both hardware & software. Over time, thousands.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2019
*** Starship launch facility development underway: SpaceX’s Starship/Super Heavy rocket needs a launch pad and work is already starting – Teslarati
*** An update presentation from Elon on Starship program tentatively set for late July:
Will do Starship presentation a few weeks after Hopper hovers, so prob late July. If that timing works, free LJ chips for all present!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2019
*** Assembly of the Starhopper and two orbital Starship demonstrators appear to be moving along:
The crews at #SpaceX are making excellent progress on #StarShip🚀, I have a lot of respect for the team here! The Texas sun is no joke and having StarShip as a reflector, probably doesn’t help.😅 #StarHopper sitting on the pad, awaiting for Raptor SN6!🔥🔥🚀 pic.twitter.com/J4PIjk39r1
— Austin Barnard🚀 (@austinbarnard45) July 8, 2019
— Maye Musk (@mayemusk) July 7, 2019
*** A fire at the Cocoa Beach facility wasn’t too serious apparently:
- Fire at SpaceX Starship facility in Cocoa causes damages to equipment – Florida Today
- SpaceX’s orbital Florida Starship yard suffers damage after catching fire – Teslarati