Space transport roundup – Mar.11.2020

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

** SpaceX planning for May launch of astronauts on Crew Dragon to the ISS: SpaceX aiming for May astronaut launch, will reuse Crew Dragon – CNBC

    • SpaceX is “gunning for May” to launch NASA astronauts on its first spaceflight with crew, president and COO Gwynne Shotwell said Tuesday.
    • She noted that the length of the mission is still under consideration, saying its “kind of TBD right now.”
    • Shotwell also noted that SpaceX is planning to reuse its Crew Dragon capsules, a decision that was in doubt previously.

Find more SpaceX items below

** Update from Boeing and NASA on Starliner problems during the uncrewed test flight: NASA Update on Orbital Flight Test Independent Review Team – Commercial Crew Program/NASA

The joint NASA and Boeing Independent Review Team formed following the anomalies during the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program has completed its initial investigation. The team was tasked with reviewing three primary anomalies experienced during the mission: two software coding errors and unanticipated loss of space-to-ground communication capability. During the investigation, the team identified several technical and organizational issues related to Boeing’s work. Separate from the independent team, NASA reviewed its role in the flight test and identified several areas where the agency can improve its level of participation and involvement into company’s processes.

While the review team, NASA and Boeing have made significant progress during the last month, more work will be required to inform the agency’s decision of whether Boeing will need to perform another uncrewed test flight of the Starliner system. NASA will determine if a repeat of the flight will be needed after Boeing has presented its detailed resolution and rework plan and NASA has independently assessed the thoroughness of that plan.

** China launches BeiDou navigation satellite on a Long March 3B rocket. Constellation nears completion.

China Launches Penultimate BeiDou 3 Navigation System Satellite – CCTV Video News Agency

China launched a new satellite of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) into space from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province at 19:55 Monday (Beijing Time), paving the way for its completion and full global coverage in May. The satellite, the 54th of the BeiDou family, was sent into a geostationary orbit as planned by a Long March-3B carrier rocket. It will go through the orbital transfer, in-orbit test, and test evaluation before it starts its service.

** Blue Origin releases more videos showing progress in New Glenn launch system development:

** Rocket Lab aims for late March for next Electron launch: Rocket Lab’s Next Mission to Launch Satellites for NASA, NRO and the University of New South Wales | Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab, a space technology company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has announced today that its next mission will deploy payloads for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra Space.

The launch will take place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula, with a 14-day launch window scheduled to commence from 27 March 2020 NZT. The mission will be Rocket Lab’s 12th Electron launch since the company began launches in May 2017.

The rideshare mission will launch several small satellites, including the ANDESITE (Ad-Hoc Network Demonstration for Extended Satellite-Based Inquiry and Other Team Endeavors) satellite created by electrical and mechanical engineering students and professors at Boston University. The satellite will launch as part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) and will conduct groundbreaking scientific study into Earth’s magnetic field. Once in space, the ANDESITE satellite will initiate measurements of the magnetosphere with onboard sensors, later releasing eight pico satellites carrying small magnetometer sensors to track electric currents flowing in and out of the atmosphere, a phenomenon also known as space weather. These variations in the electrical activity racing through space can have a big impact on our lives here on Earth, causing interruptions to things like radio communications and electrical systems. The ANDESITE satellite follows on from Rocket Lab’s first ELaNa (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) launch for NASA, the ELaNa-19 mission, which launched a host of educational satellites to orbit on Electron in December 2018. 

The mission also carries three payloads designed, built and operated by the NRO. The mission was procured under the agency’s Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract vehicle. RASR allows the NRO to explore new launch opportunities that provide a streamlined, commercial approach for getting small satellites into space, as well as provide those working in the small satellite community with timely and cost-effective access to space. This mission follows Rocket Lab’s first dedicated mission for the NRO, Birds of a Feather, which was launched on 31 January 2020 NZT from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1.

The ANDESITE and NRO payloads will be joined on the mission by the M2 Pathfinder satellite, a collaboration between the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra Space and the Australian Government. The M2 Pathfinder will test communications architecture and other technologies that will assist in informing the future space capabilities of Australia. The satellite will demonstrate the ability of an onboard software-based radio to operate and reconfigure while in orbit.

** Black Arrow Space Technologies in the UK obtains investment to fund launcher development program. Black Arrow

is a new British company developing spaceflight technologies designed to launch satellites into orbit. Black Arrow unique offer is their seaborne launch system – commercial rockets launched from their own Space Ship! This will enable Britain to offer a global service unavailable elsewhere in the world, bypassing many of the issues faced by land launches. Initially, the company aims to launch payloads of up to 500Kg into Polar Low Earth Orbit or 300Kg into Sun Synchronous Orbit. This will support a growing niche in the space market, currently under-served by the international ‘access to space’ sector. In time, the concept will be developed to enable much larger payloads to be launched to higher altitudes and more trajectories.

Black Arrow Space Technologies has negotiated an agreement with a major investor to fully fund the company development activities, up to the completion of the test launch phase of the project, which is anticipated to take between two and three years.

Design and development work will take place in the Oxfordshire area, with engine test stands and the ship fleet, including the launch vessel and support ships, based in South Wales. It is anticipated that around 300 high-skilled jobs will be created by the time that commercial launches begin. Initial launches are planned to take place from the Atlantic Ocean, South West of Ireland.

A Black Arrow rocket launches from a sea-going vessel. Credits: Black Arrow

More at:

** Rocket Fuel Injectors – Things Kerbal Space Program Doesn’t Teach – Scott Manley

Rocket Propellent Injectors are critical parts of the engine design, they take the propellents and mix them so that they can quickly burn in the combustion chamber. Injectors can make or (literally) break a rocket design, and over the years we’ve seen rocket engines move from injector plate designs to more efficient options as engineers have come to understand what works well. Thanks to Copenhagen Suborbitals for sharing some video of their injectors being tested, I hope get get to see some more flights with these:

** Briefs:

** SpaceX:

**** SpaceX set to launch another batch of 60 Starlink satellites on March 14th. Liftoff time of the Starlink 5 mission is around 9:36 am EDT (1336 GMT). A static firing on Pad-39A probably will happen on Friday March 13th.

**** SpaceX Falcon 9 launched CRS-20 cargo mission with final Dragon 1 successfully on March 6th. Future cargo missions will use the Dragon 2 vehicles. The first stage booster made a successful landing back at the Cape. This marked the 50th successful landing of a F9 booster.

CRS-20 Mission

****** SpaceX Webcast

****** Watch SpaceX launch their LAST Dragon 1 Capsule for CRS-20Everyday Astronaut

****** SpaceX – CRS20 – The Last Dragon – Launch 4K 03-06-2020 – USLaunchReport

**** Cargo Dragon berthed to the ISS on the morning of March 9:

**** Elon Musk spoke about Falcon 9, Crew Dragon, Starship, Starlink, etc during an on-stage interview this week at the Satellite 2020 conference:

**** SpaceX raising more money for development projects: SpaceX raising $500 million in new funding for Elon Musk’s company –

SpaceX is raising half a billion dollars in new funding, according to documents seen by CNBC on Monday, as the Elon Musk company continues work on three ambitious projects.

The company authorized $500.06 million at a price of $220 per share, the documents show, and values SpaceX at around $36 billion — up from $33.3 billion last year. Notably, the round is about double the $250 million that SpaceX was looking to raise, as CNBC reported previously.

**** Starship

**** Following SN1 pressure test failure last week, a second propellant tank was built and tested over the weekend successfully:

Can now proceed with test flight vehicles:

See also: SpaceX’s latest Starship test was uneventful and that’s great news for its flight debut – Teslarati.

***** SN2 Tank Test – March 8 – SPadre – YouTube

******  SpaceX Boca Chica – Starship SN2 Test Tank Cryo Test – March.8.2020 – – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

At SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch site, the Starship SN2 Test Tank underwent what appears to have been a successful cryo proof test under pressurization. Videos and Photos from Mary (@bocachicagal).

****** SpaceX Boca Chica – Post SN2 success, facility grows for more Starships – March.9.2020 – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

As SpaceXers prepare to remove SN2 from the launch site, Starship SN3 is being constructed amid a large scale work on growing production facility in Boca Chica. Videos and Photos from Mary (@bocachicagal).

****** SpaceX Boca Chica – Starship Rings on the move amid more construction – March.10.2020 – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

Lots happening at Boca Chica as SpaceXers lay the foundations for yet another new facility, while Starship rings dodge the concrete smoothers and SN3 continues to prepare for stacking. Videos and Photos from Mary (@bocachicagal).

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