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
#LightSail2 pass 3 is complete. The spacecraft was successfully commanded into solar sailing mode, and the momentum wheel spun up as expected! The team was not able to get image thumbnails down. They will try during today’s final pass starting at 15:11 PDT [18:11 EDT].
— Planetary Society (@exploreplanets) July 23, 2019
** 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:
- ISRO launches India’s first lunar landing mission – NASASpaceFlight.com
- India launches robotic mission to land on the moon – Spaceflight Now
- Is ISRO’s “cryogenic curse” finally over? – The Space Review
** 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:
- Soyuz crew docks with space station; Pence reaffirms commitment to moon missions – CBS News/Spaceflight Now
- Soyuz-FG on penultimate flight delivers three new crewmembers for ISS – NASASpaceFlight.com
- Rocket Rolls Out Ready to Launch New Station Crew on Apollo 50th – Space Station/NASA
- Soyuz crew vehicle arrives at launch pad in Kazakhstan – Spaceflight Now
- Photos: Soyuz crew blasts off from Baikonur Cosmodrome – Spaceflight Now
** 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.
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.
- Rocket Lab announces August launch with commercial and military satellites – Spaceflight Now
- Rocket Lab hits engine production milestone as next Electron launch approaches – SpaceNews.com
** 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:
- Gilmour Space Tech counts down to momentous rocket launch – BusinessNewsAus.com
- Fast internet via satellites is the next big thing in the space race – CNBC
** 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
Zeitouni says when he joined Blue Origin two years ago, it had about 1,000 employees. Now at 2,200 and still growing. #NewSpace2019
— Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) July 19, 2019
*** 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.
- SpaceX T-24 hours to NASA’s first Falcon 9 Block 5 reuse, Cargo Dragon milestone
- With a launch and a hop coming up, SpaceX has a big week ahead | Ars Technica
A view of the Falcon 9 static fire test last Friday (via www.USLaunchReport.com):
*** 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.
- Starhopper update: SpaceX’s ungainly Starship testbed survives night of fireballs, Raptor testing – Teslarati
- SpaceX Ready to Resume Starhopper Testing with Static Fire and Hop – NASASpaceFlight.com
Some recent views of the Starhopper and the orbital Starship demonstrator at Boca Chica Beach, Texas:
— SPadre (@SpacePadreIsle) July 23, 2019
#SpaceX crews hard at work today under the hot #Texas.☀️ progress on the polishing of #StarShip nosecone is making significant progress, meanwhile the team seem to be preparing to erect another section for the windbreaker. Crews seen doing inspections on raptor and #StarHopper.🚀 pic.twitter.com/ByYMYYAzgo
— Austin Barnard🚀 (@austinbarnard45) July 22, 2019
*** 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:
- SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on the next giant leap for mankind – CBS News
- Extended transcript: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on putting boots on the moon and Mars – CBS News
- Watch Sunday Morning: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on the next giant leap for mankind – Full show on CBS All Access
- SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says Crew Dragon spaceship 6 months from astronaut launch debut – Teslarati
- Elon Musk Says We Can Land on the Moon in Less Than 2 Years | Time
*** 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:
- SpaceX nears completion of Dragon investigation, has a “good path forward” – Ars Technica
- SpaceX says Crew Dragon capsule exploded due to exotic titanium fire – Teslarati
*** Crew Dragon parachute development and testing appear to have reached a successful conclusion: