Towards a New Launch Complex for Micro-launchers

Illustration of a micro-launcher pad. (Credits: CNES)

PARIS (CNES PR) — The announced development of micro-launchers is speeding up thinking on new, more flexible and agile launch pad concepts. In Guyana, CNES is working on adapting the historic Diamant site, which has already been redeveloped for Callisto and Themis.


ESA Provides €10.45 Million to Support Orbex & Skyrora Launch Vehicle Development

Skyrora XL lifts off the launch pad. (Credit: Skyrora)

PARIS (ESA PR) — As part of its Boost! programme, ESA has signed two new contracts which support UK-based Orbex and Skyrora in their separate proposals for new commercial launch services for small satellites. These services are set to start in the UK from 2022.

ESA has awarded €7.45 million [£6.42 million/$8.11 million] of co-funding to Orbex and its partners, and €3 million [£2.59 million/$3.55 million] to Skyrora.


Russia’s Angara Rocket Prepares for Mass Production

The central core of an Angara launcher. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The new production facilities of the Khrunichev Center (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) will make it possible to produce up to ten missiles of the Angara family per year. In two cities of Russia, large-scale preparations are underway for the start of the serial production of missiles of this family. More details about the strategy and principles of organizing production, delimiting areas of responsibility between sites, the near and medium-term prospects of the heavy and light version of Angara.


Arianespace Signs Long-term Supply Agreement with Avio for 10 Additional Vega C Launchers

Artist’s impression of Vega-C launcher in flight. (Credit: ESA-Jacky Huart)

ROME (Arianespace PR) — During the recent meeting in Rome between Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, Finance and Recovery, and Giancarlo Giorgetti, Italian Minister of Economic Development, Arianespace announced the signature of an agreement with Avio to start production of 10 new Vega C launch vehicles.


SPACovirus Sweeps Space Sector

Richard Branson celebrates the first Virgin Galactic trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Credit Virgin Galactic)
Wall Street’s latest easy money craze has attracted a growing number of space companies. But, just because they can go public, should they?

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Seven space companies have gotten caught up in the SPACovirus sweeping through Wall Street. The impact on the space industry is going to be interesting to watch.

A SPAC is a special purpose acquisition company. It’s a publicly traded investment firm that, with outside investors, acquires or merges with another company, and then takes the acquisition public under its own name.


ESA Awards Space Transportation Study Contracts with ArianeGroup, Avio & Rocket Factory Augsburg

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Space transportation technologies are intrinsically complex, some needing long development cycles of up to a decade. For this reason, ESA is seeking early insights into long-term trends and potential evolutions in all application domains taking into account the needs of future programmes currently under preparation.


Rocket Lab Unveils Plans for Larger Neutron Launch Vehicle Aimed at Mega-Constellations, Planetary Missions and Human Spaceflight

LONG BEACH, Calif., March 1, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab today unveiled plans for its Neutron rocket, an advanced 8-ton payload class launch vehicle tailored for mega-constellation deployment, interplanetary missions and human spaceflight.   

Neutron will build on Rocket Lab’s proven experience developing the reliable workhorse Electron launch vehicle, the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually since 2019. Where Electron provides dedicated access to orbit for small satellites of up to 300 kg (660 lb), Neutron will transform space access for satellite constellations and provide a dependable, high-flight-rate dedicated launch solution for larger commercial and government payloads.


Orbex Commissions Largest Industrial 3D Printer in Europe for Rapid Rocket Building

FORRES, UK (Orbex PR) — Orbex has commissioned AMCM to build the largest industrial 3D printer in Europe, allowing the innovative UK-based space launch company to rapidly print complex rocket engines in-house. The custom-made, large volume 3D printer will allow Orbex to print more than 35 large-scale rocket engine and main stage turbopump systems annually, as the company scales up its production capabilities for launches.

The multi-million pound deal was signed with AMCM, following a series of successful trials printing various large-scale rocket components over a number of months. AMCM will deliver a complete printing suite with post-processing machinery and ‘Machine Vision’ systems, providing automatic imaging-based inspection of printed components. To accommodate the new machinery, Orbex is expanding its factory floor space by an additional 1,000 m².


Virgin Orbit Hires Former OneWeb CEO as Chief Operating Officer

LONG BEACH, Calif., February 17, 2021 (Virgin Orbit PR) Virgin Orbit, Sir Richard Branson’s satellite launch company, announced today that Tony Gingiss has joined the team as their Chief Operating Officer (COO). As the first person to hold this position, Tony will oversee day-to-day operations at Virgin Orbit’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Long Beach, CA. His arrival follows the successful LauncherOne mission in January and completes a sequence of enhancements to the company’s executive team as Virgin Orbit pivots to commercial operations.

Tony brings more than 30 years of aerospace experience in design, production, operations and leadership to this new role. Most recently, he served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of OneWeb Satellites, where he led that company through design, low-rate-initial production, pilot launches, and into full production. Under his leadership, the company built a new factory and scaled to a production rate of two satellites per day — the successful realization of a fundamentally new approach to aerospace manufacturing.


NIIMash Looks to Develop Single-stage-to-orbit Launcher

MOSCOW (ROSCOSMOS PR) — The management of the Scientific Research Institute of Mechanical Engineering (NIIMash, part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) and the South Ural State University discussed issues of expanding cooperation on the creation of a new space complex aimed at protecting the Earth from falling space bodies. Today Scientists from the State Rocket Center named after V.I. Academician V.P. Makeev together with engineers from SUSU and NIIMash.

At present, SUSU is studying the issues of the possibility of creating a reusable single-stage space launch vehicle, the project of which was proposed by the State Rocket Center named after Academician V.P. Makeeva (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation). The launch vehicle will deliver up to seven tons of payload to low-earth orbit. The rocket service time will be only 24 hours.

Such a breakthrough can only be achieved by fundamentally new technical solutions. One of them is aimed at providing a significant increase in the efficiency of the propulsion system. NIIMash specialists will be working on this solution; currently, a project is being developed to prepare and conduct a corresponding experiment.

The space complex project is being implemented by the Ural interregional scientific and educational center of the world level “Advanced industrial technologies and materials”. It was created to combine the potentials of educational and scientific organizations of the Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and Kurgan regions. Scientists and engineers plan to test the first prototype of the launch vehicle in 2028.

Norfolk Company Blasting into the New Space Race

A UK parliamentary debate on Thursday afternoon highlighted some of the exciting developments underway in the UK space sector. During a speech by Duncan Baker MP, a reference was made to government support being provided to a number of different UK launch sites, explaining that such support will only return value if there are launch vehicles available and interested in launching from UK soil.

NORFOLK, England (Raptor Aerospace PR) — A space engineering company based in rural Norfolk is currently building a new generation of rockets intended to fuel a revolution in low-cost access to space. The focus from Raptor Aerospace is on reforming the suborbital spaceflight market by providing short-duration access to space environments.

This kind of space access has traditionally been used by scientific researchers in order to collect data and carry out experiments in space. Raptor plan to enable a new responsive, local and cost-effective approach to this market, as well as additionally supporting the ‘newspace’ surge as part of the supply chain for the high-growth area of small satellite manufacture and testing.


Skyrora Reveals New UK-built Vehicle in Live Test

Engine test (Credit: Skyrora)

EDINBURGH, Scotland (Skyrora PR) — On 23rd December 2020 the Skyrora test and flight operations team performed one of their most important test campaigns to date, a full upper stage static fire test, at their engine development complex in Fife, Scotland. This historic event represents yet another significant milestone in the Edinburgh-based rocket manufacturer’s development plan. In fact, it is a crucial milestone for the entire UK space industry.


Orbex Secures $24 Million Funding Round for UK Space Launch

Prime launch vehicle (Credit: Orbex)
  • New funding secures roadmap to first launch from Sutherland spaceport in Scotland
  • Orbex is 1st UK space-sector company to win prestigious Horizon 2020 funding

Forres, UK, 10th December 2020 – Orbex, the innovative European space launch company, has secured $24 million in a funding round led by BGF, the UK’s most active investment company, and Octopus Ventures, one of the largest VCs in Europe.