Flight signals revival of giant airplane, which will focus on launching hypersonic test vehicles.
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
For the first time in 2 years 16 days, Stratolaunch’s massive Roc aircraft roared down the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California and soared into in clear blue sky on only its second ever flight test.
Roc took off at 7:31 a.m. PDT time, trailing a giant cloud of dust stirred up by its six jet engines and giant 385-ft long wings that hung out over the desert scrub brush. The aircraft flew over the Mojave Desert for more than three hours as a crowd that had gathered for takeoff watched.
Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s growing commercial space industry. [Full Report]
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
China is using aggressive state-backed financing to capture increasing shares of the commercial launch and satellite markets, making it more difficult for American companies to compete and threatening to hollow out the U.S. industrial base.
China is also leverage “military-civil” fusion to create a burgeoning commercial space sector by providing substantial state support. Nearly 90 new space companies have been created since 2014, most of which enjoy the support of the Chinese military, defense industrial base, or state-owned research and development institutions.
The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.
China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.
By Airman 1st Class Zoe Thacker 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. — What does a rocket never before launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, unfavorable weather conditions and a launch pad with a dry spell of over 15 years have in common? A seven-man weather team from the 45th Space Wing, led by Mr. David Craft, launch weather officer and retired airman.
Wired has an entertaining story by Steven Levy about what Paul Allen and the team at Scaled Composites have been doing with Stratolaunch, whose enormous carrier plane nicknamed the Roc but also know as Composite Goose, Carbon Goose, Birdzilla and Stratosaurus.
PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The International Space Station is officially home to the coolest experiment in space.
NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) was installed in the station’s U.S. science lab in late May and is now producing clouds of ultracold atoms known as Bose-Einstein condensates. These “BECs” reach temperatures just above absolute zero, the point at which atoms should theoretically stop moving entirely. This is the first time BECs have ever been produced in orbit.
DULLES, Virginia (NanoRacks PR) — Yesterday evening, NanoRacks successfully deployed six CubeSats from the Company’s CubeSat deployer mounted on the outside of the Cygnus spacecraft. This brings the overall count to 223 small satellites deployed into low-Earth orbit.
The ninth contracted resupply mission from Orbital ATK (now Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems) launched on May 21, 2018, carrying NanoRacks’ fifth mission providing opportunities for CubeSat deployment from Cygnus after the vehicle departs from the International Space Station. Prior to launch, the NanoRacks External Cygnus Deployer is installed on the exterior of the Cygnus service module with the capability to deploy satellites after the spacecraft completes its primary space station commercial resupply mission.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Nearly two months after Orbital ATK, now part of Northrop Grumman, delivered several tons of supplies and scientific experiments to the International Space Station aboard its Cygnus cargo spacecraft, the spacecraft is set to depart the orbiting laboratory Sunday, July 15. Live coverage of unberthing and release will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Expedition 56 Flight Engineers Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Cygnus, dubbed the SS “J.R. Thompson,” after a leader in the aerospace industry. Live coverage will begin at 8:15 a.m. EDT for a scheduled release at 8:35 a.m.
Following its release, Cygnus will deploy a series of NanoRacks customer CubeSats. The cargo craft will then remain in orbit for an additional two weeks to allow the Cygnus flight control team to conduct engineering tests. The satellite deployment will not be broadcast on NASA TV.
Cygnus is scheduled to deorbit with thousands of pounds of trash on Monday, July 30, as it burns up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean while entering Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft’s deorbit will not be broadcast on NASA TV.
Cygnus launched May 21 on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and arrived at the station on May 24, carrying a variety of science and technology investigations.
Keep up with the International Space Station and its research and crew at:
The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.
There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)
The draft environmental assessment for SpaceX’s proposed expansion at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) also revealed that Elon Musk’s rocket company plans to most of more than 4,000 satellites of its planned Starlink constellation from Cape Canaveral.
That will guarantee a busy schedule for SpaceX’s Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at KSC and LC-40 at the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). LC-39A can accommodate Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters while LC-40 is configured for the Falcon 9.
Paragon Space Development Corporation will develop a flexible radiator for inflatable habitats and an improved condenser for use on human space missions with the help of NASA funding.
The space agency has selected the Tuscon, Ariz.-based company for two contracts under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program. The agreements are worth up to $125,000 apiece over 13 months.
The target market for Paragon’s Flexible Radiator (FlexRAD) is “long duration human spaceflight exploration missions and other spacecraft” that use a single loop active thermal control system (ATCS).
FALLS CHURCH, Va. – June 6, 2018 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) today announced it has closed the acquisition of Orbital ATK Inc. (“Orbital ATK”), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies. Orbital ATK is now Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, a new, fourth business sector.
Northrop Grumman’s board of directors has elected Blake Larson as corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, reporting to Kathy Warden, Northrop Grumman’s president and chief operating officer. Larson previously served as the chief operating officer of Orbital ATK.
Combination enhances capabilities, innovation and competition in critical global security domains
Orbital ATK to become Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, a new, fourth business sector
Northrop Grumman now expects 2018 sales of approximately $30 billion, EPS of $16.20 to $16.45 and free cash flow1 of $2.3 to $2.6 billion
FALLS CHURCH, Va. – June 5, 2018 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced today that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has cleared Northrop Grumman’s proposed acquisition of Orbital ATK Inc. The FTC’s Bureau of Competition has completed its review of the merger, and the Premerger Notification Office has informed the company that the waiting period under the HSR Act has terminated, allowing the companies to complete the merger.
As part of that clearance, the FTC issued a decision and order providing for solid rocket motors to be available on a non-discriminatory basis under specified circumstances and under processes defined in the order. The company expects to complete the transaction after market close tomorrow and is issuing the following updated guidance. This updated guidance assumes the completion of the transaction tomorrow.
At least 10 launches are planned worldwide this month. The launches include crew and cargo missions to the International Space Station and the first commercial flight of Rocket Lab’s Electron booster. Orbital ATK’s Pegasus XL will launch NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) from the Marshall Islands on June 14.
China got June off to a successful start on Saturday with the launch of the Gaofen-6 remote sensing satellite aboard a Long March 2D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
SpaceX is up next, with an early morning launch on Monday morning. A Falcon 9 is set to launch the SES 12 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The four-hour launch window opens at 12:29 a.m. EDT (0429 GMT). The company has no plans to recover the previously used first stage.
The current launch schedule is below. View updates here.
Launch Vehicle: Long March 2D Payload: Gaofen 6 remote sensing satellite Launch Site: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China Outcome: Success
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 Payload: SES 12 communications satellite Launch Window: 12:29-1:27 a.m. EDT (0429-0527 GMT) Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida Webcast: www.spacex.com