Space transport roundup – July.22.2020

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

** SpaceX Falcon 9 launches S. Korean ANASIS-II milcomm sat with same booster used for ISS crew mission. The booster landed safely on an ocean platform. The 51 day turnaround time was the fastest so far for reusing the Falcon boosters and faster than the best Space Shuttle turnaround of 54 days.

Both of the nosecone fairings were also captured in nets on two ships for the first dual catch on the same flight. While SpaceX has re-flown fairings recovered after landing in the ocean, it’s obviously better for reuse if they can avoid dealing with the effects of seawater and impacting the surface of the sea.

A view of the rocket in super slo-mo:

See also:

Find more about other SpaceX activities below.

** Japanese H-IIA rocket launches UAE Hope mission to Mars. The H-IIA is built and operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

** Long March 5 moved to pad in preparation for launch of China’s Tianwen 1 Mars mission. The time for liftoff from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on the southern coast of Hainan province is currently given at SpaceflightNow as Thursday, July 23 at  12:45 am EDT (0445 GMT). The payload includes an orbiter, a lander, and a rover.

** The ULA Atlas V launch of the Perseverance rover to Mars is currently set for liftoff on July 30th.

Here is a discussion with ULA CEO Tory Bruno about the upcoming launch: 79 – Preparing for a Martian Launch (feat. Tory Bruno) – WeMartians Podcast

** Russian Soyuz rocket set to launch Progress cargo carrier to the ISS on Thursday: Soyuz rocket raised on Baikonur launch pad for space station resupply flight – Spaceflight Now

A Russian Soyuz rocket rolled out to a launch pad Monday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, ready for final inspections, checkouts and fueling before liftoff Thursday with a Progress supply ship bound for the International Space Station.

The Soyuz-2.1a launcher emerged from a hangar at the Baikonur Cosmodrome just after sunrise Monday, riding a mobile railcar across the Kazakh steppe to Launch Pad No. 31. A hydraulic lift raised the launcher vertical on pad 31, and gantry arms rotated into position around the rocket to allow workers access to the vehicle for final pre-launch preparations.

Launch is scheduled for 10:26:22 a.m. EDT (1426:22 GMT; 7:26:22 p.m. Baikonur time) Thursday to kick off a three-hour pursuit of the space station. The launch time is set to occur around the time the research outpost flies over Baikonur.

The Progress will catch up with the ISS for docking in less than 3 hours after liftoff:

Russian ground teams loaded 3,351 pounds (1,520 kilograms) of dry cargo into the cargo freighter’s pressurized compartment, according to Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. Roscosmos says there’s around 1,322 pounds (600 kilograms) of propellant aboard the Progress MS-15 spacecraft for transfer into the space station’s tanks, along with 926 pounds (420 kilograms) of water and 101 pounds (46 kilograms) of compressed gas to replenish the space station’s breathing air.

**** Firefly sends mobile launch platform to Vandenberg launch facility:

** Virgin Orbit to use Japanese airport as base for some LauncherOne missions:  Virgin sets up Japan spaceport to lure Asian satellite builders – Nikkei Asian Review

Asia’s first [commercial] spaceport, located at Oita Airport on the Japanese island of Kyushu, is readying support for Virgin Orbit as the company looks to fire off its LauncherOne rocket in 2022.

Virgin Orbit — a space venture of the Virgin Group — will use a modified Boeing 747, christened “Cosmic Girl,” as the launch platform for LauncherOne, which carries small commercial satellites into either a sun-synchronous or low-Earth orbit, depending on customer requirements.

In addition to its prime Oita location, the U.S.-based company has chosen four airports in the U.S. and Europe for launching satellites, including Mojave Air and Space Port in California and the U.K.’s Spaceport Cornwall at Cornwall Airport Newquay.

** An update on the Southern Launch commercial spaceport facility on the southern coast of Australia: Southern Launch prepares for lift off In South Australia –

Historically, launch sites have been constructed closer to the equator to support large satellites launches into equatorial orbit. However, direct launch to polar orbit is achieved most efficiently from launch sites nearer the poles, which have minimal interference from aviation and maritime traffic.

Southern Launch, founded in 2017, is developing a multi-user launch complex at the tip of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, offering a turn-key launch service solution to polar and sun-synchronous orbit.

In addition to providing the complete launch infrastructure, Southern Launch has the ability to undertake flight and range safety, vehicle design, avionics componentry and assist with launch permitting and other support services. The year-round temperate weather coupled with the highly skilled local workforce and a robust logistics supply network enables a launch site that offers high cadence launch operations at cost competitive prices.

The growing global demand for launch services and a world class launch location has attracted several early investors, with Southern Launch running an oversubscribed seed funding round at the end of 2019 with a larger Series A round to be finalised in coming months.

The first orbital rocket launch from the facility is expected in 2021.

For more details about the project, see Frequently Asked Questions — Southern Launch.

** Astra heading to Kodiak Island, Alaska for another attempt at an orbital launch

** Study provides the latest on space elevator technologies and prospects:

From the abstract:

A new paradigm has emerged:

      • space elevators can be accomplished because we now have a material
      • space elevators enable interplanetary missions
      • fast transit to Mars (as short as 61 days, with variations out to 400+)
      • can release towards Mars EVERY day (no 26 month wait)o Can move massive amounts of cargo (180,000 MTs/year to GEO-beyond)
      • space Elevators are Earth friendly
      • space solar power replaces 100s of coal power plants
      • no rocket exhaust to contribute to global warming
      • no additional space debris
      • opens up remarkable commercial enterprises at Earth Port, GEO Region +
      • offer to all future scientists: any size science experiment, any solar system destination, releases every day towards multiple scientific destinations

** Briefs:


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Riding a Dragon, Rockets Rising, Space Resource Policy
Vol. 15, No. 4, June 14, 2020

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** SpaceX:

** NASA targets August 1st for departure of the SpaceX Crew Dragon from the ISS on August 1st. The Endeavour Dragon spacecraft will bring back astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to a splashdown in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida on August 2nd.

** The McGregor, Texas test facility is always busy:

**** Starship

SpaceX has carried out cryogenic pressure testing the propellant tanks of the Starship SN5 prototype currently mounted on a launch fixture at Boca Chica. If the subsequent fueling and engine tests go well, then a hop of about 150 meters will come soon after:

SN5 is using a less advanced steel alloy than what is planned for operational vehicles. The SN8 prototype currently in construction is believed to be using the alloy labeled 304L –  SpaceX begins building upgraded Starship prototype – Teslarati. However, Elon says the formulation of the final alloy for the Starships may not follow the standard recipe for 304L:

**** Latest videos from Boca Chica:

****** Exclusive! Space X Launch Site Flyover 07/20!RGV Aerial Photography

****** July 15: SpaceX Boca Chica – Nosecone Progress – High Bay Grows – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

New Starship parts are lining up at the build site including new ring stacks and the completed nosecone section. The high bay continues to grow at a rapid pace, and SN5 continues to be worked on ahead of engine testing. As a special bonus: 3 entire minutes of scrapping footage at the end for your enjoyment. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)

****** July 16: SpaceX Boca Chica – SN5 waits, expansion continues, fin washing – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

While Starship SN5 continues to wait for its Static Fire test (still at least a few days away) and soon-to-follow Hop, the expansion of Spaceport Boca Chica continues and future Starships get in line. Video includes fin power washing! Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer).

** July 21: SpaceX Boca Chica – SN8 Common Dome Spotted – SN5 Fueling Test – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

The Common Dome for Starship SN8 has been spotted, clearly labeled as such. SN5 underwent a fueling test, the results of which are unknown, the next level of High Bay sections has started to go up, and yet another new nosecone has been spotted inside Tent 3. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer).

****** July.21: SpaceX Boca Chica – High Bay Grows as Robots and Raptor arrive – NASASpaceflight – YouTube

While Spaceship SN5 remains in preparations for a Static Fire test, numerous new arrivals were spotted, from welding robots to a new Raptor engine, all while the High Bay continues to grow. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer).

**** Webcast reports on Starship and other rockets:

**** July 19: SpaceX Boca Chica Weekly Update – Starship fabrication continues at speed as high bay takes shapeNASASpaceflight – YouTube

NSF’s second weekly update video showing the highlights of work ongoing at SpaceX Boca Chica as Starship SN5 prepares to enter a week of testing. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal), Nomadd and Jack Beyer. Edited by Jack Beyer (@TheJackBeyer)

**** July 18: SpaceX Starship SN5 150m flight countdown, Starlink Beta, Minotaur IV Launch and Skylab AnniversaryMarcus House

Many topics this week including a SpaceX Starship SN5 150m flight countdown update, Starlink Beta, the Minotaur IV Launch, and the 41st Skylab Anniversary. The Starship prototype Serial Number 5 still awaits that 150-meter flight test but getting very close now. Some news on the Starlink terminals and information on the roll-out of the private beta beginning this summer with a public beta to follow. We had the super-rapid Minotaur launch just the other day, look at that go, and we’re going to talk a little about Skylab that 41 years ago made its undignified return to earth into parts of the Indian Ocean and Western Australia.

**** July 21: SpaceX Starship Updates – Solar Orbiter: Close To The InfernoWhat about it!?

The Common Dome for Starship SN8 has been spotted, clearly labeled as such. SN5 underwent a fueling test, the results of which are unknown, the next level of High Bay sections has started to go up, and yet another new nosecone has been spotted inside Tent 3. Video and Pictures from Mary (@BocaChicaGal). Edited by Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer).

**** July 17: SpaceX Starship Updates – Boca Chica Developing Faster & Faster!What about it!?


=== Space Art from C. Sergent Lindsey ===

Sweatshirt imprinted with “SpaceX Delivers the Goods” by C Sergent Lindsey. Available at Fine Art America.