CNES Eyes Biomass to Fuel Future Ariane Launchers

Biomethane installation (Credit: Naskeo Environnement)

The idea of ​​using biomethane to propel future generations of Ariane is gaining ground. This innovative technological solution would have great economic and environmental interest and many positive repercussions in Guyana.

PARIS (CNES PR) — The future Ariane Next launcher , which could take over from Ariane 6 by 2030 or 2035, will have to be more economical to meet market needs. One of the avenues to achieve this could be to use liquid methane rather than hydrogen to power the engines.

“The matter is not yet 100% decided, but we are looking with interest at the combination of oxygen and methane. This is why we are looking for the best methane production channel from an economic as well as an environmental standpoint,” said Pascal Noir, project manager at the Launchers Department.

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All Solid Motors for Vega-C Complete Qualification Tests

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

PARIS (ESA PR) — Europe’s new-generation Vega-C small launch vehicle developed by ESA will increase performance and extend current launch capabilities at Europe’s Spaceport.

The solid rocket motors built for Vega-C under contract to Avio have all completed the hot fire tests to qualify them for flight.

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Spaceport America and C6 Launch Systems Sign Agreement

LAS CRUCES, NM (Spaceport America PR) — Spaceport America signed an agreement with Canadian Corporation C6 Launch Systems to provide services, resources, and access to the vertical launch sites facilities for testing operations and activities.  

C6 Launch Systems (www.c6launch.ca) plans to begin work at Spaceport America in January 2021. Over a six-week period, the Canadian rocket company will install a new vertical test stand and conduct system integration tests including several engine firings at Spaceport America. These tests will validate the avionics, engine control, ground control and communications subsystems.

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Indian Startup to Test Smallsat Launcher in Alaska

Indian startup Agnikul Cosmos Launch Vehicles has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to test its Agnibaan booster at the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska on Kodiak Island.

The agreement commits Agnikul and Alaska Aerospace Corporation to working together to obtain regulatory and export control approvals from the Indian and American governments for an initial test launch in 2022, CNBC TV18 reports.

“We are thrilled Agnikul has partnered with Alaska Aerospace for high inclination flight testing. Agnikul has established itself as a leading rocket technology company, and we are pleased Alaska’s proven launch infrastructure and expertise continue to attract new space launch companies from around the world,” said Mark Lester, president and CEO of Alaska Aerospace.

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SpaceX Loses Lawsuit Against U.S. Air Force Over Starship Funding

Starship lifts off on a point to point flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A federal judge had denied SpaceX’s claim that the U.S. Air Force should have provided development funding for its Starship booster, according to media reports.

USAF awarded $2.2 billion in contracts in October 2918 to Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to help the companies develop new rockets to launch national security payloads. SpaceX’s proposal for Starship funding was rejected.

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SpaceX Tells Boca Chica Residents: Sell Now or Else!

Elon Musk (center) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry break ground on a new launch complex. (Credit: Texas Governor’s Office)

Vice reports that SpaceX gave a Friday deadline for two Boca Chica Village homeowners to sell their homes or Elon Musk’s launch provider would pursue “alternate approaches” to get them to vacate the settlement near the company’s south Texas spaceport.

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Video of Firefly Alpha First Stage Hot Fire

Video Caption: Today we performed a test of the Alpha flight first stage. The four Reaver engines performed 35 seconds of thrust vector control maneuvers, challenging the flame deflectors to constrain all that Reaver power! Today’s test was a major step in Firefly’s march to first flight.

Rocket Factory Augsburg Signs Agreement with Andøya Space for Maiden Flight

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

AUGSBURG, Germany — Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA), a participation of space technology company OHB SE, will be establishing a launch site for a micro launcher together with Norwegian company Andøya Space. The two partners have now signed a letter of intent to this effect. The site is to provide launch services for small satellites from 2022.

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Video: First Hot Fire Testing of 75kN HyImpulse Hybrid Rocket Motor

Video Caption: At midday of Tuesday 15 September, the first firing of the HyImpulse 75kN hybrid rocket motor was a full success! It was performed at the world class DLR Lampoldshausen testing facility.

This is the biggest hybrid rocket motor ever built and tested in Europe. This marks an important milestone in accomplishing our plan for a suborbital flight in early 2021 and the first flight of the three stage HyImpulse launcher SL1 by the end of 2022.

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Private Indian Startup Unveils Rocket Engine, Aims for Smallsat Market

Dhawan-1 cryogenic engine (Credit: Skyroot Aerospace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Thursday, a commercial Indian launch startup named Skyroot Aerospace unveiled its Dhawan-1 cryogenic engine to mark the 100th anniversary of Indian rocket pioneer Satish Dhawan.

The company said the engine is 100 percent 3D printed using additive manufacturing. It will be powered by liquified natural gas and liquid oxygen.

Satish Dhawan was an Indian aerospace engineer who was a pioneer experimental fluid dynamics research. He served as the third chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The nation’s spaceport is named after him.

Dhawan-1 will be used as the upper stage of Skyroot’s Vikram II booster. The company is developing three Vikram rockets to serve the small satellite launch market.

Vikrams will launch payloads ranging from 225 kg to 720 kg depending upon the rocket used and the orbit desired. Skyroot says the boosters can be assembled and launched within 24 to 72 hours with minimal infrastructure.

According to a story in the Economic Times, Skyroot was founded by three former ISRO employee who are looking to take advantage of India’s decision to allow private space companies to operate.

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Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit is Seeking Investors

LauncherOne operated in powered flight for only seconds before an anomaly shut it down after being dropped from the Cosmic Girl Boeing 747. (Credit; Virgin Orbit)

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit is look for investors. The company posted the following notice on its website:

Virgin Orbit LLC, (together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, the “Company”), is exploring a possible transaction and has retained LionTree Advisors LLC (“LionTree”) and Perella Weinberg Partners LP (“PWP”) (together, the “Financial Advisors”).

The website includes a link to a password protected presentation that potential investors can review.

Virgin Orbit is developing LauncherOne, a small-satellite booster that is air launched from a modified Boeing 747 airliner.

Virgin Orbit’s first launch attempt failed in late May when the rocket’s engine stopped about five seconds after it began firing. The company is planning another launch attempt later this year.

The travel-heavy Virgin Group has been struggling to fund its companies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chinese Rocket Company LandSpace Raises $175 Million

Landspace Zhuque-1 booster (Credit: Landspace)

Chinese launch company LandSpace announced on Wednesday that it has completed a series C+ funding round valued at $175 million (1.2 billion yuan) to fund its Zhuque-2 booster.

Landspace raised $73 million (500 million yuan) in a C round last December.

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Exolaunch Signs Agreement with Rocket Factory Augsburg to Supply Commercial Launch Services

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

BERLIN, Germany (Exolaunch PR) – EXOLAUNCH, a Berlin-based rideshare launch and deployment solutions provider, signed a wide-ranging MOU with Germany-based launch service provider, Rocket Factory Augsburg AG (RFA), to provide end-to-end launch services for small satellites, with Exolaunch procuring launch capacities from RFA.

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DLR Microlauncher Competition: Three Teams are One Round Ahead

  • Jury chaired by Thomas Jarzombek (Member of the German Bundestag), the federal government’s coordinator for aerospace, nominated HyImpulse Technologies GmbH, Rocket Factory Augsburg AG and Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH.
  • A total of 25 million euros are available for the main round of the DLR space management microlauncher competition for the development of commercial launch services into space.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Three teams are with Microlauncher competition of the DLR space management one round further.

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CSA Awards Additional Space Technology Development Contracts

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has awarded an additional 10 contracts worth nearly CAD $4.49 million (US $3.3 million) to eight companies under its Space Technology Development Program (STDP).

The awards were in addition to 14 STDP contracts worth just over CAD $9 million (US $6.6 million) the space agency awarded to eight companies last month.

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