Northrop Grumman Finalizes Contract for GEM Solid Rocket Boosters

Artist’s conception of Vulcan Centaur rocket. (Credit: ULA)

Solid rocket boosters will support existing ULA customers and Amazon’s Project Kuiper

MAGNA, Utah, June 8, 2022 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been awarded a multi-year contract valued at more than $2 billion from United Launch Alliance (ULA) for increased production of its 63-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63) solid rocket booster and the extended length variation (GEM 63XL). The award, which supports Amazon’s Project Kuiper and additional ULA customers, includes both an increased production rate and significant facility expansion. This will enable Northrop Grumman to increase capacity and allows for the modernization of current and new state-of-the-art facilities and tooling.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Secures Largest RL10 Engine Contract From United Launch Alliance

Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed successful hot-fire testing of a full-scale, additively manufactured thrust chamber assembly for the RL10 rocket engine at its West Palm Beach, Florida facility. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) recently awarded the largest RL10 contract ever to Aerojet Rocketdyne to deliver 116 RL10C-X engines for its Vulcan Centaur rocket. The new engines will support ULA as it works to fulfill its commitments under a contract they recently received from Amazon, as part of the largest commercial launch contract in history, to support the launch of its Kuiper satellite constellation.

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Amazon Selects Blue Origin’s New Glenn for up to 27 Project Kuiper Constellation Launches

New Glenn on the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced New Glenn has been selected for 12 launches, with options for up to 15 additional launches to deploy Amazon’s Project Kuiper satellite constellation. Project Kuiper’s constellation of 3,236 advanced satellites aims to deliver high-speed, low-latency broadband service globally. The launches are manifested for a five-year period from Launch Complex 36 (LC-36) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which Blue Origin has rebuilt from the ground up.  

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Amazon Signs Contract with United Launch Alliance for 38 Project Kuiper Launches on Vulcan Centaur

Artist’s conception of Vulcan Centaur rocket. (Credit: ULA)

CENTENNIAL, Colo., April 5, 2022 (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today that Amazon has selected its next-generation Vulcan rocket for 38 launches supporting deployment for its ambitious Project Kuiper, Amazon’s initiative to increase global broadband access through a constellation of 3,236 advanced satellites in low Earth orbit. 

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Rogozin Courts Chinese Cooperation on ExoMars, Space Station

Vladimir Putin receives a briefing from Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: Office of the Russian President)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Chinese government-owned CGTN website has an interview with Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin. With relations severely damaged with the West due to sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Roscosmos is increasingly focused on deepening cooperation with China’s surging space program. The partnership already includes jointly developing a crewed base on the moon in the 2030s.

On the suspended ExoMars mission with Europe, Rogozin said:

“In the construction of ExoMars, the main element is the landing module. The Mars research rover is not the essential element. I think we can make this mission happen with another partner like China or someone else.”

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Rogozin Sticks a Knife into Northrop Grumman’s Antares Rocket

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket liftoff from pad 0A at 12:40 p.m. EST from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, on Feb. 19, 2022. The Cygnus spacecraft, carrying 8,300 pounds of science investigations and cargo, is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Monday, Feb. 21. (Credits: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said Russia will no longer sell rocket engines to U.S. companies, dealing a potentially fatal blow to Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket. The decision was made in retaliation for U.S. sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

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OneWeb Suspends Satellite Launches From Baikonur

Soyuz rocket launches 36 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 27, 2021. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Friday launch of 36 OneWeb broadband satellites aboard a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome is officially canceled as the London-based company refused demands from the Russian government amid growing international tensions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The Board of OneWeb has voted to suspend all launches from Baikonur,” the company said in a one-sentence statement.

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Russia Holds OneWeb Satellites Hostage; No Launch Unless Company & British Government Meet Demands

Vladimir Putin receives a briefing from Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: Office of the Russian President)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In what is likely the first hostage drama involving communication satellites, the head of the Russian space program has demanded that the British government divest its shares in OneWeb and that the broadband satellite operator not provide services to foreign militaries in order to launch a new batch of spacecraft. The move comes amid growing tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions imposed on the country by western nations.

Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin tweeted that unless these demands are met, Russia will refuse to launch 36 OneWeb satellites that sit atop a Soyuz-2.1b rocket currently on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launch is scheduled for Saturday morning Moscow time.

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ULA Vulcan Centaur Rocket to Send Ashes of Gene & Majel Barrett Rodenberry, James Doohan Beyond the Moon

Star Trek First Family Embarks on Final, Infinite Journey on a Rocket Named Vulcan

HOUSTON, January 26, 2022 (Celestis PR) — Celestis, Inc. announced today that it has entered into a launch services agreement with United Launch Alliance (ULA) of Centennial, CO. ULA will host a Celestis Memorial Spaceflight payload aboard the initial flight of ULA’s Vulcan Centaur, planned for later this year. Known as the Enterprise Flight (celestis.com/launch-schedule/enterprise-flight), the Celestis mission will launch more than 150 flight capsules containing cremated remains (ashes), DNA samples, and messages of greetings from clients worldwide on an endless journey in interplanetary space.

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Northrop Grumman-Built Space Sensor Satellites Launch in Support of US Space Force-8 Mission

Northrop Grumman-built GSSAP satellites collect space situational awareness data allowing for more accurate tracking and characterization of man-made orbiting objects. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

DULLES, Va., Jan. 21, 2022 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Two Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites were successfully launched into orbit on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket today from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station as part of the U.S. Space Force (USSF)-8 mission. The two satellites, GSSAP-5 and GSSAP-6, will enhance space situational awareness, a top priority for the U.S. Space Force. In addition to manufacturing and delivering both GSSAP payloads, Northrop Grumman also provided the sole strap-on solid rocket booster adding propulsion to the rocket launch, as well as essential aeronautical components in support of the USSF-8 launch.  

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Inflatable Heat Shield One Step Closer to 2022 Demonstration

The flexible thermal protection system contains two outer surface layers made of ceramic fiber fabric, several layers of insulator, and then a gas barrier that prevents hot gases from getting to directly to the inflatable structure. The inflatable structure is a high temperature capable, flexible structure that is inflated to provide the cone shape that the FTPS drapes over. (Credits: NASA/Greg Swanson)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — A NASA technology that could one day help land humans on Mars is about to head into final integration and testing before a sub-orbital flight test next year.

Two key components of the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) are complete and recently arrived at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. At Langley, engineers will test the complete system to ensure LOFTID is flight ready.

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ULA’s Bruno Denies Igniter Problems with Vulcan Centaur’s BE-4 Engine

In a recent report, the GAO — Government Accountability Office — had reported technical issues with the Blue Origin produced BE-4 engine that will power United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket.

Vulcan Centaur’s first flight will launch Astrobotic Technology’s Peregrine on a mission to land on the moon. That flight was scheduled for the end of 2021, but it has slipped into next year due to COVID-19 pandemic related delays with Peregrine.

Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

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NASA Adds United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur Rocket to Launch Services Program Catalog

Artist’s conception of Vulcan Centaur rocket. (Credit: ULA)

ULA’s next generation rocket to compete for future NASA launches

CENTENNIAL, Colo., April 15, 2021 (ULA PR) – NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) has added United Launch Alliance’s next generation rocket, the Vulcan Centaur, to the NASA Launch Services II (NLS) indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract in accordance with the on-ramp provision of NLS II.

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Lunar Traffic to Pick Up as NASA Readies for Robotic Commercial Moon Deliveries

This photograph of a nearly full Moon was taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft at a point above 70 degrees east longitude. Mare Crisium, the circular, dark-colored area near the center, is near the eastern edge of the Moon as viewed from Earth. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA is working on various science instruments and technology experiments from the agency that will operate on the Moon once American companies on Commercial Lunar Payload Services  (CLPS) contracts deliver them to the lunar surface. Through CLPS flights, NASA is buying a complete commercial robotic lunar delivery service and does not provide launch services, own the lander or lead landing operations.

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