Space transport roundup – Nov.30.2019

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

** Rocket Lab‘s launch of an Electron rocket has been delayed:

More about the mission:

** China launched the Gaofen-12 earth observation satellite on a Long March-4C rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Taiyuan, capital of north China’s Shanxi Province, on Wednesday Nov. 28th9.

** More about latest UP Aerospace‘s SpaceLoft sounding rocket launch: UP Aerospace Announces Successful Launch of Space Loft-14 Rocket from Spaceport America – Spaceport America

The SL-14 Launch Vehicle reached an altitude of 57 miles. Additionally, as a fundamental step in UP Aerospace’s testing of new systems, this mission included a small second stage rocket motor and attitude control system. Advances made with the successful mission of these payloads will be pivotal as UP Aerospace moves toward the launch of their larger orbital vehicle, SPYDER.

In addition to these systems, SL-14 carried an experimental payload that seeks to improve access to space through the use of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology. Using ADS-B for future space launch missions is expected to improve safety and reduce detrimental effects on commercial aviation. Other payloads on the mission also were designed to advance the state-of-the-art in avionics, flight management, and data recording with particular applications for emerging small launch vehicles.

** Blue Origin construction of Florida facilities continues apace: Blue Origin’s New Glenn launch pad taking shape at Cape Canaveral – ClickOrlando

Work has been ongoing on the launch complex preparing for New Glenn’s first launch but recently locals say it’s starting to take shape.

Space Florida’s Dale Ketcham called it a “monster” of a launch pad.

“It is going to be a beast,” Ketcham said.

And moving fast in Washington and California as well: Blue Origin expansion rushes ahead at Seattle-area HQ — and in L.A. – GeekWire

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture is rapidly expanding on several fronts, ranging from its headquarters facility south of Seattle to a new beachhead in the Los Angeles area — within the orbit of its main competitor, Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Just three and a half years ago, Blue Origin’s workforce amounted to 600 employees, and even then, Bezos said his company’s 300,000-square-foot office and production facility in Kent was “busting out of the seams.”

Now the employee count is at around 2,500, heading toward 3,500 in the next year. That’s according to a report from a Bangkok space conference quoting Clay Mowry, Blue Origin’s vice president for global sales, marketing and customer experience.

** Boeing highlights reuse of Starliner crew spacecraft:

** SpaceX:

*** Dragon cargo mission CRS-19 set for Dec.4th:

*** Crew Dragon in-flight abort test flight expected in late December or early January: NASA Invites Media to SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test for Commercial Crew – NASA

This will be among the final major tests for the company before NASA astronauts will fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. As part of the test, SpaceX will configure the spacecraft to trigger a launch escape shortly after liftoff and demonstrate Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the rocket in the unlikely event of an in-flight emergency. The demonstration also will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceX’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

** SpaceX and Blue Origin aim to win a contract to take big NASA payloads to the Moon:  SpaceX’s Starship to spar with Blue Origin for NASA Moon landing contracts – Teslarati

Assuming SpaceX’s technical know-how is mature enough to allow Starship to preserve cryogenic propellant for weeks or months after launch, it’s entirely conceivable that a Moon launch with, say, 10 tons of cargo could be achieved with just one or two in-orbit refuelings, all while leaving that Starship enough margin to safely return to Earth. Given that NASA awarded Intuitive Machines and Astrobotic approximately $80M apiece to land 50-100 kg on the Moon, it’s far too easy to imagine SpaceX quoting a similar price to deliver 10+ tons to the Moon by enabling full Starship reuse.

All things considered, politics still looms in the distance and there is just as much of a chance that SpaceX (and maybe even Blue Origin) will be passed over by CLPS when the time comes to award the next round of Moon delivery contracts. Still, the odds of something far out of the ordinary happening are much higher with a program like CLPS. Stay tuned!

*** Lots of interesting activities at the Boca Chica beach facilities in the aftermath of the Mk.1 demo Starship explosion during pressure testing. This includes construction of a launch site for the complete Super Heavy Booster/Starship.

**** SpaceX Boca Chica – Building the Starship Super Heavy Pad – November 26, 2019 [NSF]

Views around SpaceX Boca Chica, including groundwork on the future Super Heavy’s pad. Guest Stars: Concrete Smoother Guys. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF.

**** SpaceX Starship Mk3 hardware arrives – Boca Chica Expansion – November 27, 2019 [NSF]

 As parts of Starship Mk3 arrive (mostly bulkhead), expansion of the Boca Chica site continues, including at the Super Heavy pad. Guest appearance from Stargate Arrays being tested (likely ahead of CRS-19). Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF.

**** SpaceX Starship Bulkhead and Second Ring Relocated Boca Chica, Texas [Nov.29.2019 – LabPadre]

Time lapse of the new partial bulkhead being moved to Iron Henge and second ring being moved from ring tent. This 24/7 stream is powered by LabPadre, in cooperation with Sapphire Condominiums and @BocaChicaMaria1 (Twitter) @SpaceXBocaChica (Facebook). All copyrights to live images are owned explicitly by LabPadre.

**** SpaceX Boca Chica Starship Progress Update  [Nov.29.2019 – Maria Pointer/LabPadre]

Second new tent frame continues to be erected. Tons of earth being moved on the West end of the property. More close ups of the damaged bulkhead from last weeks failure. New bulkhead has been moved into Iron Henge. MK-1’s nose sits quietly awaiting its fate.

**** SpaceX Starship Mk3 – Bulkhead heading for assembly/ongoing launch site work – November 29, 2019 [NSF]

The pace is picking up for Starship Mk3 in Boca Chica, with monolithic steel rings being fabricated (seen previous videos) and the bulkhead heading into the windbreak facility for assembly. Includes ongoing launch site work. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF. Edited by Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer) Learn about Starship Mk1, Mk3 onwards: UPDATES:… ARTICLES:…

*** In Florida, there are signs the Mk.2 components will move soon to KSC. There are also hints that construction activities will be re-distributed to facilities with fewer roadblocks for reaching KSC.

**** SpaceX Closing Down Starship work at Cocoa? [Nov.27.2019 – John Winkopp]

Aerial view. The big white crane is positioned at the nose cone so they can remove the header tank from the nose cone in prep for a move out of Cocoa. The header tank extends below the lip of the nosecone. The nosecone needs to be lifted to remove the header tank. It needs to be removed if the nosecone comes off its base for shipping. Wish I knew they were going to remove it, but did not see the actual removal.

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