Joining the Constellations Podcast at the recent Small Sat Conference, Leena Pivovarova, NSR Analyst, covered a range of topics that will have significant impact on the persona of the small sat industry. With respect to the role of governments, Leena states that in addition to their regulatory oversight, they are also participants, customers, enablers, facilitators. Because of this, there really must be alignment and government support, which includes having supporting regulations that enable, instead of kind of stifle innovation.
I’ve got a special preview of MECO Headlines for the main feed this week, with news on Orion, NASA’s FY2020 budget, NEOCam’s legacy, Starship, and more.
** The Space Show – Sun, 09/29/2019 – Dr. David Livingston led a discussion with listeners about “the Musk Saturday evening press conference plus the article I called out on spreading Early molecules throughout space including Mars”.
1. Monday, Sept. 30, 2019; 2:00 pm PDT (4:00 pm CDT, 5:00 pm EDT): No show today as Monday is reserved for special programming.
2. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019; 7-8:30 pm PDT (9-10:30 pm CDT, 10-11:30 pm EDT): We welcome back Michelle Hanlon from For All Moonkind, which seeks to protect Apollo landing sites on the Moon, for news and updates.
3. Wednesday, Oct. 2 2019: Pre-recorded Hotel Mars Program with John Batchelor. See Upcoming Show on The Space Show website for details.
4. Friday, Oct. 4, 2019; 9:30-11:00 am PDT (11:30 am-1:00 pm CDT, 12:30-2:00 pm EDT): We welcome back space law expert Laura Montgomery for news and views for legal commercial space issues.
5. Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019; 12-1:30 pm PDT (3-4:30 pm EDT, 2-3:30 pm CDT): OPEN LINES. We welcome back Christopher Stone for news and views and important goings on with national security space.
Some recent shows:
** Sun, 09/29/2019 – Dr. David Livingston led a discussion with listeners about “the Musk Saturday evening press conference plus the article I called out on spreading Early molecules throughout space including Mars”.
** Fri, 09/27/2019 – Dallas Bienhoff talked about “Cislunar and lunar development, space settlement, O’Neill vision, free space habitats, needed technologies, challenges and timelines”.
Musk estimated that Crew Dragon capsule 03 (C203) and its expendable trunk would be sent from SpaceX’s Hawthorne, CA factory to Cape Canaveral, FL as early as October. Crew Dragon capsule C204 is then expected to follow around one month later, arriving in Florida for preflight preparation as early as November
SpaceX has applied for an FCC Special Temporary Authority license to authorize rocket communications during what is likely Crew Dragon’s In-Flight Abort (IFA) test, now scheduled to occur no earlier than November 23rd.
In line with recent comments from SpaceX executives, a November or December In-Flight Abort test would almost certainly preclude Crew Dragon from launching with astronauts in 2019, pushing the Demo-2 mission into the Q1 2020. Nevertheless, it would serve as a good sign that Crew Dragon remains on track if SpaceX can complete the critical abort test – meant to prove that Dragon can whisk astronauts away from a failing rocket at any point during launch – before the year is out.
NASA and SpaceX conducted a formal verification of the company’s emergency escape, or egress, system at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Sept. 18, 2019. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Shannon Walker participated in the exercise to verify the crew can safely and swiftly evacuate from the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency before liftoff of SpaceX’s first crewed flight test, called Demo-2.
** Japanese HTV-8 launched last week docked with the ISS on Saturday:
Ariane 6, Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle, has passed another key development milestone. Its Vulcain 2.1 liquid-fuelled engine has now completed its qualification testing, which means combined tests can now begin.
The main stage Vulcain 2.1 engine will deliver 135 t of thrust to propel Ariane 6 in the first eight minutes of flight up to an altitude of 200 km.
Russia’s Soyuz rocket has made its second launch in less than twenty-four hours, delivering a missile detection satellite to orbit Thursday in a military launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Soyuz lifted off at 10:46 Moscow Time (07:46 UTC), placing the Tundra satellite into its planned orbit with the aid of a Fregat upper stage.
Tundra plays a significant part in Russia’s national security arrangements, monitoring the Earth for potentially hostile missile launches so the Russian Government can react as necessary. It forms part of the Edinaya Kosmicheskaya Sistema (EKS) or Unified Space System which is being introduced to replace the earlier Oko system that Russia inherited from the Soviet Union. Thursday’s launch deployed the third such satellite.
Representatives of the Allen family’s Vulcan holding company have insisted that Stratolaunch remains operational. LinkedIn listings indicate that Jean Floyd is still president and CEO, although three companyvicepresidents left in July.
Now Stratolaunch is posting 11 job openings, including listings for two test pilots. “As a test pilot on the history-making Stratolaunch Carrier Aircraft, the world’s largest-wingspan aircraft, you will have the opportunity to accomplish new milestones in aviation,” the company says.
Rocket Lab, the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, and Virginia Space at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), have completed a major construction milestone ahead of the first Electron launch from U.S. soil. The recent installation of the launch platform at Rocket Lab’s second launch site, Launch Complex 2, marks one of the final steps in the construction of the new pad being built by the Rocket Lab and Virginia Space teams.
Construction on Launch Complex 2, located at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island, Virginia, began in February 2019. In the few months since then, more than 1,400 cubic yards of concrete have been poured to create the pad on which Electron’s launch platform is mounted. The 66 ton launch platform was installed into its final position this month, ready for the 44 foot, 7.6 ton strongback to be mounted to the platform in coming weeks. Both the launch platform and strongback were built by Steel America in Norfolk, Virginia. The launch site largely mirrors Rocket Lab’s first launch location, Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, where the Electron launch vehicle transports horizontally down the launch ramp, and then is lifted vertically by the strongback to be ready for launch.
In the coming weeks, work will focus on final build and integration of various launch pad systems that will process, load propellant into, and launch Electron. The final step in the completion of the site is integration and test activities, which is expected to be complete by December 2019. Once the site is complete, work begins on testing, commissioning, and integration at the launch site in preparation for the first Electron launch from U.S. soil in early 2020.
** Blue Origin plans to start flying New Shepard with people on board after two more uncrewed test flights. However, the test flights won’t happen before November.
The company is developing the New Shepard rocket system for its space tourism business. Blue Origin is still hoping to fly people on New Shepard this year, although the company noted in a meeting with reporters on Tuesday that 2019 is quickly coming to an end, so those plans may move to 2020.
Blue Origin also filed an application for its next test flight with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday. The filing is “for Flight #12 of the New Shepard space launch booster and capsule” and has an operational window beginning in November. To be clear, that’s not necessarily when Blue Origin will next launch New Shepard, but rather the earliest time they could with federal approvals.