Three Launches & a Hot Fire in Three Days

Fully loading the propellant and detecting no leaks is a major milestone for the Green Run test series. A total of 114 tanker trucks delivered propellant to six propellant barges next to the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA)

The upcoming holiday weekend (Martin Luther King Day on Monday) will see NASA conduct the long awaited Green Run hot fire of its Space Launch System rocket core and orbital launches by Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and SpaceX involving 71 satellites.

Saturday, January 16

Launch Vehicle: Rocket Lab Electron
Mission Name: “Another One Leaves the Crust”
Payload: OHB Group micro communications satellites
Launch Time: 2:41 EST (0741 UTC)
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand
Webcast: www.rocketlabusa.com (begins 15 minutes prior to launch)

UPDATE: Launch scrubbed as engineers examine sensor data. They have a 10-day launch window.

Hot Fire: Space Launch System Core
Test Window: 5-7 p.m. EST (2200–0000 UTC)
Test Site: Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss.
Webcast: www.nasa.gov (begins at 4:20 p.m. EST/2120 UTC)
Post-test Briefing: Approximately two hours after test completion on NASA website

Sunday, January 17

Launch Vehicle: Virgin Orbit LauncherOne/Cosmic Girl
Mission Name: NASA ELaNa-20 mission
Payloads: 10 CubeSats
Launch Window: 1:00-5:00 p.m. EST (1800-2200 UMT)
Launch Sites: Mojave Air and Space Port, California (Cosmic Girl Boeing 747), Pacific Ocean (LauncherOne)

Monday, January 18

Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Falcon 9
Mission Name: Starlink V1.0-L16
Payloads: 60 Starlink broadband satellites
Launch Time: 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 UTC)
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com (begins 15 minutes before launch)

NASA Armstrong Collaborates with Rocket Lab, Sensuron to Mature Fiber Optic Technology

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — A system originally developed to collect distributed strain and temperature measurements on aircraft has been enhanced to support future NASA space missions. Two companies were selected by NASA through the 2020 Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity to further develop and commercialize the technology. 

The Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) developed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, uses sensors that are the size of a human hair to monitor vehicle structural and thermal response. Much of the technology effort to advance FOSS for use on airplanes and rockets was funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Center Innovation Fund.

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How to Bring a Rocket Back from Space

A crew recovers the first stage of an Electron rocket from the ocean. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — Our team is still on a high from recovering an Electron booster for the first time. This was a monumental milestone and achievement for our recovery plans and sets us on a strong path to make Electron a reusable launch vehicle. Here’s how it all went down, and what’s next for the Rocket Lab reusability program.

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Rocket Lab Readies Photon Spacecraft for NASA Moon Mission

Illustration of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE). (Credit: Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems)

The CAPSTONE mission will see Rocket Lab extend its reach far beyond Earth orbit for the first time to deploy an in-house designed and built Photon spacecraft to the Moon.

Long Beach, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab has reached a key milestone ahead of the company’s first launch to the Moon, with spacecraft qualification underway for the Photon spacecraft that will transport a NASA satellite into a unique lunar orbit that no other spacecraft has explored before.

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Rocket Lab Successfully Launches 17th Electron Mission, Deploys SAR Satellite for Synspective

An Electron rocket lifts off with the StriX-α satellite. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

MAHIA PENINSULA, New Zealand (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab, the leading dedicated small launch provider and space systems company, has successfully launched its 17th Electron mission, deploying the first spacecraft to orbit for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite data and solutions provider Synspective. 

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Launch Updates: SpaceX, Virgin Galactic & Rocket Lab Shift Dates

SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity makes first glide flight at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

SpaceX scrubbed the launch of the SXM-7 for SiriusXM satellite radio on Friday morning. The countdown for the Falcon 9 rocket was held at T-30 seconds.

“Standing down from today’s launch attempt to perform additional ground system checkouts; teams are working toward no earlier than Sunday, December 13 for next launch attempt of SXM-7,” SpaceX tweeted.

The window for Virgin Galactic’s first suborbital flight of SpaceShipTwo from Spaceport America in New Mexico opened on Friday. However, the company did not conduct a flight with scientific experiments.

“Good morning from NM. Vehicles and flight crew are ready. Flight window is now open. We will fly no earlier than Saturday. We have range clearance through the weekend and can extend into next week if necessary. Evaluating high-level winds and turbulence. Stay tuned for updates,” Virgin Galactic tweeted.

Rocket Lab has delayed its launch of the StriX-α synthetic aperture radar satellite from New Zealand by a day to Tuesday, Dec. 15 for a rather unusual reason.

“To avoid a solar eclipse that could affect Synspective’s mission, we’re now targeting Dec 15 for launch,” the company tweeted. “When customers request a new T-0, we’re happy to oblige. That’s the beauty of dedicated launch on Electron, our customers get to choose (and change!) their launch time.”

The target lift-off time for the The Owl’s Night Begins mission on Dec. 15 is:

UTC: 09:00-10:59
NZT: 22:00-23:59
JST: 18:00-19:59
PST: 01:00-02:59
EST: 04:00-05:59.

Millennium Space Systems Tests Space Debris Remediation Technology

The Terminator Tape Deorbit Module interacts with the space environment to rapidly drag a satellite out of orbit. (Credit: Tethers Unlimited)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Dec. 7, 2020 – Two Millennium Space Systems-built small satellites were successfully launched into low-Earth orbit last month – and the company’s engineers, as well as the world’s amateur satellite tracking community, now are watching them as they race back to Earth.

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Rocket Lab to Launch Dedicated Mission for Japanese Earth Imaging Company Synspective

Electron launches with 10 satellites on Oct. 29, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a space technology company and global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has today announced Japanese Earth-imaging company Synspective as the customer for Rocket Lab’s 17th Electron launch, and its seventh mission of the year.

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Rocket Lab Launches 30 Satellites, First Stage Parachutes into Ocean

An Electron first stage descends under parachute. “My new favourite image of 2020,” Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck tweeted. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rocket Lab launched 30 satellites into orbit from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand on Friday. For the first time, the company recovered the Electron rocket’s first stage.

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NASA to Work with Industry to Mature Green Propulsion, Advanced Materials, Space Robots and More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 17 U.S. companies for 20 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies for the Moon and beyond through the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s 2020 Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO).

The selected proposals are relevant to technology topic areas outlined in the solicitation, including cryogenic fluid management and propulsion; advanced propulsion; sustainable power; in-situ propellant and consumable production; intelligent/resilient systems and advanced robotics; advanced materials and structures; entry, descent, and landing; and small spacecraft technologies.

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New NASA Partnerships to Mature Commercial Space Technologies, Capabilities

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected  17 U.S. companies for 20 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies for the Moon and beyond. The NASA and industry teams will design a 3D printing system for NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, test a simple method for removing dust from planetary solar arrays, mature a first-stage rocket recovery system for a small satellite launch provider, and more.

Various NASA centers will work with the companies, ranging from small businesses and large aerospace companies to a previous NASA challenge winner, to provide expertise and access to the agency’s unique testing facilities. The partnerships aim to accelerate the development of emerging space capabilities.

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Rocket Lab to Attempt First Stage Recovery on Next Mission

LONG BEACH, Calif., November 5, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab has today revealed that it will attempt to recover the first stage of its Electron rocket during its next mission, the ‘Return to Sender’ launch, scheduled for lift-off in mid-November.

The test will see Rocket Lab attempt to bring Electron’s first stage back to Earth under a parachute system for a controlled water landing before collection by a recovery vessel.

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Rocket Lab to Launch Most Diverse Mission Yet

Electron launches with 10 satellites on Oct. 29, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)
  • The mission will deploy 30 satellites to unique orbits using the Electron launch vehicle’s Kick Stage space tug
  • The satellites will enable internet from space, test new methods of deorbiting space debris, and enable research into predicting earthquakes
  • The launch will also feature a 3D printed mass simulator for Valve’s Gabe Newell to raise funds for Starship Children’s Hospital

LONG BEACH, Calif., November 2, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Leading space systems company, Rocket Lab, has today announced its next Electron mission will feature a diverse range of payloads from the United States, France and New Zealand.

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Rocket Lab Demonstrates Flexible In-space Transportation with New Kick Stage Maneuver

Kick Stage in orbit. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab’s Kick Stage successfully completed plane change in orbit for the first time, further demonstrating the Kick Stage’s ability to enable custom orbits for small sats.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — This week Rocket Lab demonstrated an advanced capability of its Kick Stage acting as a space tug during the company’s 15th launch, the ‘In Focus’ mission that launched satellites for Planet and Canon on October 28th UTC.

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