SpaceX Rockets U.S. Launches to New Heights in 2022

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Powered by 33 flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, the United States leads all nations with 48 launch attempts through the first seven months of the year. The total is three short of the number of U.S. launches attempted last year, and far ahead of the 27 launches conducted by second place China through the end of July. The U.S. has conducted more launches than the 43 flights conducted by the rest of the world combined.

A number of notable flights were conducted. SpaceX launched two Crew Dragons to the International Space Station (ISS), including the first fully privately funded mission to the orbiting laboratory. United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched Boeing’s CST-100 Starship crew vehicle on an automated flight test to ISS, a crucial step before astronauts to fly on the spacecraft. Small satellite launch provider Rocket Lab conducted its first deep-space mission by sending a spacecraft the size of a microwave to the moon.

(more…)

Rocket Lab Moon Mission for NASA a Success as CAPSTONE Heads for the Moon

Credit: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab successfully deploys CAPSTONE satellite to lunar transfer orbit for NASA, charting a new path to the Moon. CAPSTONE is testing a never-before-flown orbit of the Moon and is the first mission of NASA’s Artemis program

LONG BEACH, Calif., July 4, 2022 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today announced it has successfully deployed a pathfinding satellite for NASA, setting it on a course to the Moon.  The deployment marks the successful completion of Rocket Lab’s first deep space mission, paving the way for the Company’s upcoming interplanetary missions to Mars and Venus. 

(more…)

Advanced Space Announces CAPSTONE Separation To Start Solo Journey Mission to Moon for NASA

Credit: Advanced Space

WESTMINSTER, Colo., July 4, 2022 (Advanced Space PR) — Advanced Space LLC., a leading commercial space tech company pioneering the pathfinder mission, spacecraft separated from Rocket Lab’s Photon upper stage today after its launch on June 28. The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) spacecraft has orbited Earth while raising its position to be thrusted beyond low-Earth orbit on a trajectory to the Moon.

(more…)

ULA Atlas V to Launch USSF-12 Mission on Thursday

Atlas V for the USSF-12 mission on the launch pad. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (ULA PR) — A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket will launch the USSF-12 mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC). Liftoff will occur from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

Launch Date and Time: Thursday, June 30, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. EDT (2200 UTC)

(more…)

U.S. Space Force SSC’s GEO Wide Field of View Scheduled for Takeoff

Designed, built and integrated by Millennium Space Systems, Wide Field of View will demonstrate missile warning technologies and techniques. (Image Credit: Millennium Space Systems)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Millennium Space Systems PR) — The United States Space Force (USSF) Space Systems Command’s (SSC) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) Wide Field of View (WFOV) Testbed is scheduled to launch June 30, 2022. SSC’s GEO WFOV space vehicle was designed built and integrated by Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing Company, and will inform the future Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) architecture.

(more…)

CAPSTONE Launches to Test New Orbit for NASA’s Artemis Moon Missions

An image of the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, launching aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand Tuesday, June 28, 2022. (Image Credit: Rocket Lab)

WASHINGTON (NASA HQ PR) — NASA’s CubeSat designed to test a unique lunar orbit is safely in space and on the first leg of its journey to the Moon. The spacecraft is heading toward an orbit intended in the future for Gateway, a lunar space station built by the agency and its commercial and international partners that will support NASA’s Artemis program, including astronaut missions.

(more…)

The Small Businesses Behind CAPSTONE Are Paving Our Path to the Moon

CAPSTONE in orbit around the moon. (Credit: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — The upcoming Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission will be the first spacecraft to fly a unique orbit around the Moon that will be used for Gateway, NASA’s future Moon-orbiting outpost. Gateway is an international collaboration working with commercial partners to establish a long-term human presence in deep space. Similarly, CAPSTONE – a mission owned and operated by Advanced Space, LLC in Westminster, Colorado – is made possible by collaborations with small businesses across the country, showing how NASA works with innovators in its future exploration endeavors.

(more…)

NASA Sets Live Launch Coverage for CAPSTONE Mission to Moon

CAPSTONE (Credit: Terran Orbital)

NASA Mission Update

NASA will air live launch coverage of the agency’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE), the first spacecraft to fly a specific unique lunar orbit ahead of future missions with crew.

CAPSTONE is targeted to launch no earlier than Monday, June 27, aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand. The instantaneous launch opportunity is at 6 a.m. EDT (10:00 UTC). Live coverage will begin at 5 a.m. on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

(more…)

NASA Selects New Instruments for Priority Artemis Science on Moon

NASA is planning to send a lander and rover to the beautiful Gruithuisen Domes, seen in this controlled mosaic, and LROC images will help guide the way. The domes are located at 36.3° N, 319.8° E. Image 55 km wide, north is up . (Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Adding to the growing list of commercial deliveries slated to explore more of the Moon than ever before under Artemis, NASA has selected two new science instrument suites, including one that will study the mysterious Gruithuisen Domes for the first time.

(more…)

CubeSat Set to Demonstrate NASA’s Fastest Laser Link from Space

The completed TeraByte InfraRed Delivery (TBIRD) payload at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory. (Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory)

By Kendall Murphy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA’s Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 (PTD-3) mission, carrying the TeraByte InfraRed Delivery (TBIRD) system, will debut on May 25 as part of SpaceX’s Transporter-5 rideshare launch. TBIRD will showcase the high-data-rate capabilities of laser communications from a CubeSat in low-Earth orbit. At 200 gigabits per second (Gbps), TBIRD will downlink data at the highest optical rate ever achieved by NASA.

(more…)

Planetary Defense Exercise Uses Apophis as Hazardous Asteroid Stand-In

Clockwise from top left are three of the observatories that participated in a 2021 planetary defense exercise: NASA’s Goldstone planetary radar, the Mount Lemmon telescope of the Catalina Sky Survey, and NASA’s NEOWISE mission. At bottom left is an illustration of the path of Apophis’ close approach in 2029. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

Over 100 participants from 18 countries – including NASA scientists and the agency’s NEOWISE mission – took part in the international exercise.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Watching the skies for large asteroids that could pose a hazard to the Earth is a global endeavor. So, to test their operational readiness, the international planetary defense community will sometimes use a real asteroid’s close approach as a mock encounter with a “new” potentially hazardous asteroid. The lessons learned could limit, or even prevent, global devastation should the scenario play out for real in the future.

(more…)

Jacobs Awarded ATOM-5 Contract at NASA Ames Research Center

Agreement extends 23+ years supporting ATOM contract to further future space exploration

Project drives company strategy through innovative solutions and technologies

A flight-like ADEPT skirt being tested in an arc-jet flow. (Image Credit: NASA)

DALLAS (Jacobs PR) — Jacobs (NYSE:J) was awarded the Aerospace Testing and Facilities Operations and Maintenance (ATOM-5) contract at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

(more…)

CAPSTONE Charts a New Path for NASA’s Moon-Orbiting Space Station

NASA Mission Update

WESTMINSTER, Colo. — It will have equilibrium. Poise. Balance. This pathfinding CubeSat will practically be able to kick back and rest in a gravitational sweet spot in space – where the pull of gravity from Earth and the Moon interact to allow for a nearly-stable orbit – allowing physics to do most of the work of keeping it in orbit around the Moon.

(more…)

NASA’s New Solar Sail System to be Tested On-Board NanoAvionics Satellite Bus

COLUMBIA, Ill. (NanoAvionics PR) — NanoAvionics has been selected to build a 12U nanosatellite bus for an in-orbit demonstration of NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3). This a result of a contract between NASA Ames Research Center and AST for a 12U bus to carry NASA’s payload into low Earth orbit (LEO) including an approximately 800 square foot (74 square meter) composite boom and solar sail system.  

The aim of the ACS3 mission is to replace conventional rocket propellants by developing and testing solar sails using sunlight beams to thrust the nanosatellite. These solar sail propulsion systems are designed for future small interplanetary spacecrafts destined for low-cost deep-space and science missions requiring long-duration, low-thrust propulsion.  

(more…)

SpinLaunch and NASA Sign Space Act Agreement to Test Innovative Mass Accelerator Launch System

NASA to fly payload with SpinLaunch’s mass accelerator to test launch characteristics of its low cost, high cadence launch system.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (SpinLaunch PR) — SpinLaunch has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASAThrough this partnership, SpinLaunch will develop, integrate, and fly a NASA payload on the company’s Suborbital Accelerator Launch System to provide valuable information to NASA for potential future commercial launch opportunities.

The SpinLaunch and NASA Partnership

The Space Act Agreement is part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, which demonstrates promising technologies for space exploration, discovery, and the expansion of space commerce through suborbital testing with industry flight providers. The program is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and managed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the solicitation and evaluation of technologies to be tested on commercial flight vehicles.

(more…)