South Korea has set an October date for the maiden flight of the nation’s first fully domestically developed satellite launch vehicle, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) announced. Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning Hyesuk Lim approved KARI’s plan to conduct flight tests of the new Nuri booster from the Naro Space Center on Oct. 21 and May 19, 2022 .
NASA says that a surge in COVID-19 cases has caused supply issues that have delayed the planned launch of the Landsat 9 Earth observation satellite from Vandenberg Space Force Base by one week to no earlier than Sept. 23.
“Current pandemic demands for medical liquid oxygen [LOX] have impacted the delivery of the needed liquid nitrogen supply to Vandenberg by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and its supplier Airgas,” the space agency said in a blog post. “Airgas converts the liquid nitrogen to gaseous nitrogen needed for launch vehicle testing and countdown sequences. DLA and Airgas now have implemented efforts to increase the supply of liquid nitrogen to Vandenberg.”
Media reports indicate that United Launch Alliance (ULA) has decided to partner with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin company to produce a liquid-oxygen/methane engine to power the first stage of the Atlas V booster. An announcement is expected on Wednesday.
[Update: ULA and Blue Origin will have a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday at 1 p.m.]
In June, ULA announced it had signed multiple study contracts with American rocket manufacturers for a replacement for the Russian-supplied RD-180 engine. The company said it planned to make a decision by the fourth quarter of this year.