Space transport roundup – July.23.2019

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

** LightSail-2 unfurled today: Live Coverage: LightSail 2 Sail Deployment | The Planetary Society

** India launches the Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission, which includes an orbiter, lander, and rover. The spacecraft’s elliptical orbit of Earth will gradually extend farther and farther out until on August 14 the engines will fire to put the spacecraft on course for the Moon. It will go into lunar orbit on August 20th. The goal is to separate the lander/rover combo from the orbiter on September 1st and settle down on the lunar surface on September 6th. If successful, the landing will be the first time a spacecraft has reached the southern polar region, where water ice is believed to be embedded in the floors of permanently dark craters.

An animation of the mission:

More about the mission:

** Russian Soyuz launches 3 new ISS crew members and docks with the station just 6 hours after liftoff. The July 20th flight took place on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon. Currently, the US has no operational system for putting people into orbit (though, in a pinch, the SpaceX Cargo Dragon could certainly be configured to take someone to orbit).

The new members of the ISS crew include cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA physician-astronaut Andrew Morgan. More at:

** Rocket Lab’s next launch set for August and will carry four satellites: Rocket Lab’s Next Mission Focused On Building Constellations And Enabling R&D | Rocket Lab.

Rocket Lab

announced its next launch is a mission carrying satellites destined to begin a new constellation for UNSEENLABS, as well as more rideshare payloads for Spaceflight, consisting of a spacecraft for BlackSky and the United States Air Force Space Command.

The mission – named ‘Look Ma, No Hands’ – will lift-off in August from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, carrying a total of four satellites aboard an Electron launch vehicle.

See also:

** Gilmour Space Technologies prepares for a suborbital launch of the company’s OneVision rocket. The 8.6 meter high, 1600 kilogram vehicle

will flight test the company’s first-stage 80kN orbital engine, and demonstrate their mobile launch capability.

The company plans to launch smallsats into orbit in the 2021 time frame. More about Gilmour Space:

** Blue Origin is making progress with its BE-7 rocket engine that will power the Blue Moon lander vehicle: Blue Origin fires BE-7 lunar lander engine for full 6 minutes – GeekWire

** SpaceX:

*** Falcon 9 set to launch Cargo Dragon on CRS-18 mission on Wednesday at 6:24 pm EDT (2224 GMT) from Cape Canaveral. The weather forecast (pdf), however, gives only a 30% chance of acceptable conditions for liftoff within the instantaneous launch window.

A view of the Falcon 9 static fire test last Friday (via

*** A fuel leak fire following the Starhopper static engine test last week resulted in a scary fireball but caused no significant damage to the vehicle. The first brief flight of the vehicle is planned for this week.

Some recent views of the Starhopper and the orbital Starship demonstrator at Boca Chica Beach, Texas:

*** Elon gives more clues about Super Heavy Booster/Starship system design: SpaceX’s Elon Musk says Starship, Super Heavy will have more than 40 Raptor engines – Teslarati

If the above Starhopper test flight is successful, Elon promises to provide a more extensive update soon after on the latest design details.

*** Elon Musk discusses SpaceX projects in two interviews. Highlights include his belief that the first crewed Dragon mission to the ISS will happen within 6 months, an uncrewed Starship could land on the Moon within 2 years, and with a crew in 3-4 years:

*** More about the Crew Dragon test explosion. Last week, SpaceX released an Update on the In-Flight Abort Static Fire Test Anomaly Investigation that occurred in April. Scott Manley gives a lucid description of the investigation’s findings:

See also:

*** Crew Dragon parachute development and testing appear to have reached a successful conclusion:


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