AUKLAND, January 11, 2018 (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab, a US aerospace company with operations in New Zealand, will open a nine-day launch window from Saturday January 20, 2018 (NZDT) to carry out the company’s second test launch of the Electron rocket. During this time a four-hour launch window will open daily from 2:30 p.m. NZDT.
The world’s most powerful booster is set to make a flight test sometime in January. If all goes well, 27 first stage engines will power the new booster off Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The three first stage cores will peel off and land for later reuse while the second stage continues into space.
SpaceX had a banner year in 2017, launching a record 18 times and helping to propel the United States to the top of the global launch table with a perfect 29-0 record. The U.S. total made up 32.2 percent of 90 orbital launches worldwide, which was an increase over the 85 flights conducted in 2016.
The 29 American launches were a leap of seven over the 22 flights conducted the previous year. This is the highest number of American orbital launches since the 31 flights undertaken in 1999. However, that year the nation’s launch providers suffered four failures whereas they were perfect in 2017.
The clock is ticking for the remaining teams in the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize competition.
Barring another extension, they have until March 31 to land a vehicle on moon and travel 500 meters across it to claim the $20 million first prize or $5 million second prize. It’s not clear whether any of them will make the deadline.
#StillTesting launch attempt is now targeted for early 2018. Yesterday’s power fault has been resolved, but with only one day remaining in the launch window we’ve decided to preserve crew rest and come back for an attempt in the new year.
Rocket Lab scrubbed the second launch of the Electron rocket from New Zealand yesterday due to a technical problem.
“Today’s launch attempt has been scrubbed following the identification of a power fault during ground checkouts,” the company said in a tweet. “Team will work the issue tomorrow before a new target launch time is determined in coming days.”
It was the third scrub of the week. The first one was due to a problem with the booster, and the second due to excessive high-level winds.
Rocket Lab has rescheduled its launch of its Electron rocket for Thursday. The launch window opens at 0130 UMT (8:30 p.m. EST Wednesday). The previous attempt was aborted with two seconds left in the countdown due to an issue with the booster’s liquid oxygen (LOx).
“Launch was aborted due to rising liquid oxygen temperatures – the result of a LOx chilldown bleed schedule not compatible with the warm conditions of the day,” the company said in a tweet. “The fix is simple. Next attempt tomorrow!”
SpaceX has rescheduled the Falcon 9 launch of a Dragon resupply ship to the International Space Station for Friday at 1535 UMT (10:35 a.m. EST).
“Taking additional time for the team to conduct full inspections and cleanings due to detection of particles in 2nd stage fuel system,” SpaceX said in a tweet. “Now targeting CRS-13 launch from SLC-40 on Dec. 15. Next launch opportunity would be no earlier than late December.”
We’ve got a busy launch week coming up with a new three-man crew headed for the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX launching a Dragon resupply mission to the station, and Rocket Lab attempting the second flight test of its Electron small-satellite launcher. Europe and China are also launching satellites this week.
Launch Vehicle: Long March 3B Payload: Alcomsat 1 communications satellite (Algeria) Launch Time: Approx. 1635 GMT (11:35 a.m. EST) Launch Site: Xichang, China
Launch Vehicle: Electron Payloads: 3 Planet and Spire CubeSats Launch Window: 0130-0530 GMT on 11th (8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EST on 10/11th) Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand Webcast:http://www.rocketlabusa.com
Still Testing is on the pad at LC-1 and looking healthy. Ideal launch conditions open up Monday. Currently targeting no earlier than 2.30 pm Monday 11 December NZDT (Sunday, 8.30 pm EST/5.30 pm PST). pic.twitter.com/WOshi79wqa
This will be Rocket Lab’s second attempt to launch the Electron rocket from New Zealand after the first launch failed to reach orbit on May 25. The flight will carry CubeSats from Planet and Spire Global.
The failure of a Russian Soyuz booster to orbit a weather satellite and 18 CubeSats on Tuesday was the sixth launch mishap of the year. That total includes five total failures and one partial failure out of 79 orbital launches.
On Jan. 14, the maiden launch of Japan’s SS-520 microsat booster failed after takeoff from the Uchinoura Space Centre. JAXA said controllers aborted second-stage ignition after losing telemetry from the rocket. The booster was carrying the TRICOM-1 nanosat.
A second launch has been scheduled for Dec. 25. The SS-520 is an upgraded version of a Japanese sounding rocket.
The maiden flight of Rocket Lab’s Electron booster failed after launch from New Zealand on May 25. Company officials said controllers terminated the flight after faulty ground equipment lost telemetry from the booster, which was functionally nominally. Rocket Lab is gearing up for a second launch attempt that could occur in December.
China’s Long March 3B suffered a partial failure on June 19 after launch from Xichang. An under performing third stage left the ChinaSat 9A communications satellite in a lower-than-planned orbit. The spacecraft reached its proper orbit using on board propulsion, with a reduction of its orbital lifetime.
On July 2, a Chinese Long March 5 booster failed after liftoff from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center. The rocket was carrying an experimental geostationary satellite named Shijian 18. It was the second launch and first failure for China’s largest booster. Officials have no announced the cause of the failure.
India’s PSLV rocket suffered a rare failure when the payload shroud failed to separate during a launch on Aug. 31. The IRNSS-1H regional navigation satellite was lost. The booster is set to return to service on Dec. 30.
The International Astronautical Congress has been going on all week down in Adelaide, Australia. In addition to Elon Musk’s presentation on Friday and some news I’ve already posted here, there have been a few updates on various programs.
Boeing CST-100 Starliner. Boeing is aiming for a test flight of the CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station in the third quarter of 2018. However, the first crewed test flight could slip from the fourth quarter of 2018 into the first quarter of 2019. Link
Rocket Lab. The company’s next test launch will carry will two Dove Cubesats from Planet and a pair of Lemur CubeSsats from Spire Global. The satellite will allow Rocket Lab to test deploying spacecraft from the second stage of its Electron rocket. The launch is planned for several weeks from now. Link
Long March 5. The failure of a Long March 5 booster in July will delay the launch of China’s Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission, which had been scheduled for November. The Chang’e-4 mission, which will land on the far side of the moon, also will be delayed. That flight had been scheduled for late next year. The accident investigation is ongoing. Link
It looks as if the next Electron flight test will take place in late October.
The second of Rocket Lab’s three planned test flights is scheduled later this year. If that launch goes well, the company will likely delete the third demonstration mission, and the first commercial Electron flight could be ready for takeoff by the end of December, [CEO Peter] Beck said last week.
“We’ve got the next test flight rolling out out to the pad in about eight weeks’ time,” Beck said. “If it’s a really good clean flight, we’ll probably accelerate into commercial operations.”
Once Rocket Lab delivers the next Electron rocket to the launch pad, ground crews will spend several weeks readying the booster, rehearsing countdown procedures, and verifying all of the vehicle’s sensors and instruments are functioning.
“This vehicle, again, has on the order of 25,000 or 30,000 sensors, so for us these flights are all about gathering data, so there’s a lot of ‘go-no go’ criteria around those sensors,” Beck said. “Usually, it takes us a good couple of weeks to get all that buttoned up, and then we’ll be ready to launch.”
One of Rocket Lab’s first commercial missions is set to send a robotic lunar lander into space for Moon Express, a Florida-based aerospace developer vying to win the Google Lunar X-Prize, which requires a successful landing on the moon by the end of 2017.
LOS ANGELES (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab has completed an internal review of data from its May 25 test flight of its Electron rocket. The review found the launch had to be terminated due to an independent contractor’s ground equipment issue, rather than an issue with the rocket. Rocket Lab’s investigation board has identified the root causes and corrective actions.
The UK is going all cuckoo for Cocao Puffs over spaceports. Everybody seems to want one, raising the possibility the nation will repeat America’s experience of having too many spaceports without enough vehicles to launch from them.
In any event, the latest candidate to surface involves a remote peninsula in the Scottish Highlands.
A consortium that includes Lockheed Martin, the US aerospace firm, believes that the A’Mhoine peninsula, between Dounreay and Cape Wrath, is the best location in Britain for a spaceport facility.