Space transport roundup – Nov.16.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport (find previous roundups here):

** SpaceX executes successful static firing of Crew Dragon launch escape system.  A similar firing last April led to an explosion caused by leaks and other problems in the propellant plumbing. Assuming the data looks OK in closer examination, this firing allows for SpaceX to proceed to the in-flight abort test flight, presumably in December, in which a Crew Dragon will detach from a Falcon 9 upper stage not long after launch to simulate the escape from a failing booster.

See also

More SpaceX entries below.

** China launches two rockets on same day – Sept.13th: China carries out 2 orbital launches inside 3 hours –

Firstly, a Kuaizhou-1A (Y11) launcher sent a remote sensing satellite into low earth orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu Province in northwest China, on 13 November 2019:

The Jilin-1 satellite constellation was developed on China’s Jilin Province and is the country’s first self-developed remote sensing satellite for commercial use. Data will be provided to commercial clients to help them forecast and mitigate geological disasters, as well as shorten the time scale for the exploration of natural resources.

The satellites were developed by the Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd under the Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

And then a Long March-6 sent five  small remote-sensing satellites into orbit from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China’s Shanxi Province:

The new satellites – also designated Zhongzi, were developed by the DFH Satellite Co., Ltd. and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST) – are part of a commercial satellite project financed by the Ningxia Jingui Information Technology Co., Ltd. and will be mainly used for remote sensing detection.

This mission was the first low-inclination orbital launch for the Long March-6 launch vehicles, in response to the mission needs. The rocket was submitted to a series of technical upgrades, including take-off roll, horizontal guidance, new composite material double-walled mount barrel and others.

** UK govt. aims to develop plan for flight-testing Reaction Engines‘ SABRE engine:

The purpose of this call is to produce a roadmap for the next phase in the SABRE development. It is focused on flight-testing the core SABRE air-breathing engine and assessing the potential competitive positioning of future SABRE-powered applications in the future space transportation segment.

** US rocket company Launcher gets $1.5 million for rocket engine development:

From launcher:

Launcher Inc. has scheduled the first full-scale test of its E-2 rocket engine for mid-2020 after securing a $1.5M award from the U.S. Air Force and taking delivery of the world’s largest 3D printed combustion chamber. 

3D printed by AMCM (An EOS Group Company) in Copper Alloy on AMCM’s M4K machine, it is the world’s largest liquid rocket engine combustion chamber 3D printed in a single part. The combustion chamber is 34in (86cm) tall with an exit nozzle diameter of 16in (41cm).

Launcher E-2 engine employs a large 3-D printed combustion chamber.

** EXOS Aerospace says structural failure led to the in-flight abort and loss of the SARGE vehicle  on the recent launch at Spaceport America in October : Exos blames suborbital launch accident on structural failure –

In a statement released by the Texas-based company Nov. 14, Exos said its Suborbital Autonomous Rocket with GuidancE, or SARGE, rocket was lost 48 seconds after its Oct. 26 liftoff from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

“We are still in the process of evaluating video and telemetry data; however, it appears a structural failure resulted in an abort and deployment of the recovery system at speeds far beyond its design capability,” the company stated.

** Airbus team flies TEXUS suborbital rocket from Esrange launch facility near Kiruna in northern Sweden:

Airbus has completed another successful space mission. On 15 November, the TEXUS-56 rocket completed a scientific research flight.

The research rocket took off at 10:35 CET from Kiruna, north Sweden, and gave the scientists involved six minutes of research in microgravity.  After the parachute landing of the rocket, the experiments were recovered by a helicopter team. The research teams will now evaluate the results.

“Mission accomplished! Our TEXUS team from Bremen has once again done a great job for our customers, ESA and DLR,” enthuses project manager Detlef Wilde. “With TEXUS, we offer very short preparation times, integrate the payloads and take care of the complete mission execution, including procurement of the rockets – a service that our customers love to use”.

Launch of the Airbus suborbital TEXUS-56 mission from Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden.

** SpaceX:

*** Falcon 9 first stage returns to port following landing at sea for the Starlink launch:

Incredible how well the first-ever four-time flown booster looks. Was sort of bad weather, the B1048.4 traveled thru 15ft seas.

*** Update on the first group of fully operational Starlink satellites to reach orbit: SpaceX says upgraded Starlink satellites have better bandwidth, beams, and more – Teslarati

Aside from a general improvement to the overall visual fit-and-finish of the v1.0 spacecraft, SpaceX’s official comments on the matter indicated that the most substantial changes between v0.9 and v1.0 were more related to each spacecraft’s advanced electronics and payloads. In the case of Starlink, each satellite’s primary payload is a high-performance suite of electronically-steered phased array antennas. Initially developed to improve the flexibility of tracking and scanning radars used by military fighter aircraft, phased array antennas (and radar) allow multiple beams to be aimed without physically moving the antenna.

SpaceX says that Starlink v1.0 satellites added a number of Ka-band antennas alongside upgraded Ku-band hardware similar to what was installed on Starlink v0.9. Ka and Ku refer to similar but different communications frequencies, with Ku-band generally offering greater reliability and cloud/rain tolerance, while Ka-band is a bit more sensitive to environmental factors but offers a substantially higher theoretical bandwidth.

*** SpaceX aims to launch the Kacific-1 comm-sat to orbit in DecemberSpaceX’s next Falcon 9 satellite launch a step closer as spacecraft heads to Florida – Teslarati

Known as Kacific-1 or JCSat-18 the massive spacecraft is scheduled to launch no earlier than mid-December and is current set to be SpaceX’s second to last or final launch of 2019. According to tweets published by operator Kacific and satellite manufacturer Boeing, the satellite departed Boeing’s El Segundo, California factory on November 4th and has probably already arrived in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

After arrival, Boeing technicians will inspect the satellite to ensure its road trip caused no damaged and fuel the spacecraft’s bipropellant and xenon propellant tanks. SpaceX technicians will then take over, encapsulating Kacific-1 inside a Falcon 9 payload fairing, transporting the assembly to its Launch Complex 40 pad, and attaching the fairing to an integrated Falcon 9 rocket.

*** Views of Starship Mk.1 construction activity at Boca Chica Beach, Texas:

Starship Mk1 is now preparing for cryo loading tests in the coming days, which will mark fuel tests ahead of the testing with her three Raptor engines.

*** Latest fly-around the Florida orbital Starship demo construction facility:

Aerial view of Cocoa Facility. Attachment points in the top of the engine section are close to completion so that the top dome can be installed. Three very large containers have arrived at the site who’s purpose is unknown. They are located in various locations. One out front of main facility, one on the side of the facility and one in the small tent on the side of the facility.

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