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Monday, July 22, 2024

Rocket Report: Firefly delivers for NASA; Polaris Daybreak launching this month


Four kerosene-fueled Reaver engines power Firefly's Alpha rocket off the pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.
Enlarge / 4 kerosene-fueled Reaver engines energy Firefly’s Alpha rocket off the pad at Vandenberg Area Power Base, California.

Welcome to Version 7.01 of the Rocket Report! We’re compiling this week’s report a day later than regular as a result of Independence Day vacation. Ars is starting its seventh 12 months publishing this weekly roundup of rocket information, and there is numerous it this week regardless of the vacation right here in the US. Worldwide, there have been 122 launches that flew into Earth orbit or past within the first half of 2024, up from 91 in the identical interval final 12 months.

As at all times, we welcome reader submissions, and when you do not wish to miss a difficulty, please subscribe utilizing the field under (the shape is not going to seem on AMP-enabled variations of the positioning). Every report will embody data on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets in addition to a fast look forward on the subsequent three launches on the calendar.

Firefly launches its fifth Alpha flight. Firefly Aerospace positioned eight CubeSats into orbit on a mission funded by NASA on the primary flight of the corporate’s Alpha rocket since an higher stage malfunction greater than half a 12 months in the past, Area Information studies. The 2-stage Alpha rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Area Power Base in California late Wednesday, two days after a difficulty with floor gear aborted liftoff simply earlier than engine ignition. The eight CubeSats come from NASA facilities and universities for a spread of academic, analysis, and know-how demonstration missions. This was the fifth flight of Firefly’s Alpha rocket, able to putting a couple of metric ton of payload into low-Earth orbit.

Anomaly decision … This was the fifth flight of an Alpha rocket since 2021 and the fourth Alpha flight to attain orbit. However the final Alpha launch in December failed to put its Lockheed Martin payload into the right orbit as a result of an issue through the relighting of its second-stage engine. On this week’s launch, Alpha deployed its NASA-sponsored payloads after a single burn of the second stage, then accomplished a profitable restart of the engine for a airplane change maneuver. Engineers traced the issue on the final Alpha flight to a software program error. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

Two firms added to DoD’s launch pool. Blue Origin and Stoke Area Applied sciences — neither of which has but reached orbit — have been accredited by the US Area Power to compete for future launches of small payloads, Breaking Protection studies. Blue Origin and Stoke Area be a part of a roster of launch firms eligible to compete for launch process orders the Area Power places up for bid via the Orbital Companies Program-4 (OSP-4) contract. Below this contract, Area Methods Command buys launch providers for payloads 400 kilos (180 kilograms) or larger, enabling launch from 12 to 24 months of the award of a process order. The OSP-4 contract has an “emphasis on small orbital launch capabilities and launch options for Tactically Responsive Area mission wants,” stated Lt. Col. Steve Hendershot, chief of Area Methods Command’s small launch and targets division.

A fair dozen … Blue Origin goals to launch its orbital-class New Glenn rocket for the primary time as quickly as late September, whereas Stoke Area goals to fly its Nova rocket on an orbital take a look at flight subsequent 12 months. The addition of those two firms means there are 12 suppliers eligible to bid on OSP-4 process orders. The opposite firms are ABL Area Methods, Aevum, Astra, Firefly Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, Relativity Area, Rocket Lab, SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and X-Bow. (submitted by Ken the Bin and brianrhurley)

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Italian startup test-fires small rocket. Italian rocket builder Sidereus Area Dynamics has accomplished the primary built-in system take a look at of its EOS rocket, European Spaceflight studies. This take a look at occurred Sunday, culminating in a firing of the rocket’s kerosene/liquid oxygen MR-5 essential engine for roughly 11 seconds. The EOS rocket is a novel design, using a single-stage-to-orbit structure, with the reusable booster returning to Earth from orbit for restoration below a parafoil. The rocket stands lower than 14 ft (4.2 meters) tall and might be able to delivering about 29 kilos (13 kilograms) of payload to low-Earth orbit.

A lean operation … After it completes built-in testing on the bottom, the corporate will conduct the primary low-altitude EOS take a look at flights. Based in 2019, Sidereus has raised 6.6 million euros ($7.1 million) to fund the event of the EOS rocket. Whereas this can be a fraction of the funding different European launch startups like Isar Aerospace, MaiaSpace, and Orbex have attracted, the Sidereus’s CEO, Mattia Barbarossa, has beforehand acknowledged that the corporate intends to “reshape spaceflight in a fraction of the time and with restricted sources.” (submitted by EllPeaTea and Ken the Bin)

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