Roscosmos Moves Toward Reusable Boosters, Aims for the Moon

Roscosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin meets with Russia’s boss of bosses, President Vladimir Putin. (Credit: Russian President’s Office)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with Dmitry Rogozin and his team over at Roscosmos. This has been partly due to all the awesome things that are happening elsewhere that keep me busy. And partly due to the fact that Russia’s plans seem to be continuing evolving due to budget cuts to the point to where I’m never quite sure what exactly to take seriously.

The question usually is: yeah, that sounds great, but is there any money for this? I’m lacking in good sources there. And Russian media usually don’t provide enough insights into the program to allow for informed judgments.

With that caveat in mind. TASS has provided another one of its periodic bursts of updates about what Rogozin and company have been up to lately. They are making progress on reusable launch vehicles, a super-heavy booster, a spacecraft that will replace Soyuz, and plans sending cosmonauts and robots to the moon.

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EXOS Sarge 3 Launch Goes Awry, Booster Recovered

The SARGE 3 rocket ascends from Spaceport America. (Credit: EXOS Aerospace webcast)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM — EXOS Aerospace’s SARGE 3 launch went awry shortly after liftoff from Spaceport America on Saturday as the suborbital rocket suffered control problems only seconds into its flight.

Liftoff appeared nominal, but then the rocket began to veer from side to side as it ascended. It was not clear from the webcast what altitude the booster reached.

SARGE rocket descending under parachute. (Credit: EXOS Aerospace)

Ground control team members lost sight of the rocket for a period. They then spotted it dumping fuel as it descended under a parachute guided by GPS.

The reusable rocket successfully touched down not far from its launch site. The rocket’s nose cone also landed in the New Mexican desert under a drogue parachute.

At the end of the company’s webcast, an official said the booster had apparently suffered a problem with its gimbal system.

EXOS, which is based in Caddo Mills, Texas, is attempting to build a business flying payloads on suborbital flights. The company also has plans for an orbital launcher that would carry small satellites.

EXOS uses technology originally pioneered by Armadillo Aerospace, a now-defunct company founded by gaming programmer John Carmack.

DLR Teams with 5 European Companies to Develop Reusable Launch Vehicles

conceptual sketch of RETALT1 (Credit: DLR)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The German Aerospace Center  (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and five European companies have teamed up in the RETro Propulsion Assisted Landing Technologies (RETALT) project to jointly advance the research and development of key technologies for European vertical-landing launch vehicles. The consortium will spend three years examining the aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics – that is, in-flight surface temperatures – flight dynamics during both the outward and return flight phases, and navigation and control, as well as structural components, materials and mechanisms.

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Relativity Space to 3D Manufacture Rockets at Stennis Space Center

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss., June 11, 2019 (Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission PR) – Aerospace company Relativity is expanding its rocket component production and rocket engine testing operations at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. The project is a $59-million corporate investment and will create 190 jobs, increasing employment at Relativity’s Stennis Space Center site to 200 workers.

“Relativity‘s announcement today solidifies Hancock County’s position as a leader in commercial space activity and further establishes our aerospace cluster as one of the strongest in the region,“ said Blaine Lafontaine, President, Hancock County Board of Supervisors.

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ESA Unveils Technologies for Future Launch Vehicles

Moving launch vehicle technology from ‘lab to launch’ (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA safeguards Europe’s guaranteed access to space through its Future Launchers Preparatory Programme, FLPP.

FLPP weighs up the opportunities and risks of different launch vehicle concepts and associated technologies.

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Virgin Orbit to Launch Satellites from Cornwall in England

Cosmic Girl performs first captive carry with LauncherOne. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

CORNWALL, United Kingdom (Virgin Orbit PR) — For a while now, we’ve been working with our friends in Cornwall on the prospect of using LauncherOne to bring launch back to Britain. Today, that project took a massive step forward, as the U.K. Space Agency announced it aims to invest £7.8m (~$10 million) into the development of Spaceport Cornwall as a key operating hub for horizontal launch system, working towards a first launch from British soil in the early 2020’s.

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Relativity Signs Agreement with Spaceflight for Rideshare Launches

LOS ANGELES, May 6, 2019 (Relativity PR) — Relativity, the world’s first autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader for satellite constellations, today announced it signed a Launch Services Agreement (LSA) with Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider. Under the LSA, Spaceflight will manifest missions to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) on Relativity’s Terran 1 rocket, the world’s first and only entirely 3D-printed rocket.

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Air Force Releases Proposal Request for Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement Contract

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) — The Space and Missile Systems Center, in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office, released a request for proposals May 3, for the purpose of competitively awarding firm fixed-price, indefinite-delivery requirements contracts to two domestic launch service providers. These “Launch Service Procurement” contracts are for National Security Space launch service procurements in fiscal year 2020 through 2024 for missions launching through 2027.

This solicitation strategy is a full and open competition allowing companies to compete for procurement contracts regardless of whether they have a current Launch Service Agreement development contract.

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Will Alcântara Finally Stop Being the Spaceport of the Future?

Cyclone 4 launch pad under construction. (Credit: Alcantara Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Brazil’s decades-long effort to launch satellites from its underused Alcântara Launch Center could finally be bearing fruit.

On Monday, Brazil and the United States signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement that will allow American companies to launch orbital rockets from Alcântara.
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Firefly, Airbus Sign MOU to Partner on Launch Solutions for Constellations

CEDAR PARK, Texas, March 19, 2019 (Firefly Aerospace PR) – Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (Firefly), a provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft and in-space services, announced today the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus) to develop new space launch solutions for Airbus customers.

“Firefly is pleased to enter into an MOU with Airbus to formulate an integrated market offering that will provide Airbus customers rapid deployment of Airbus manufactured satellites,” said Firefly CEO Dr. Tom Markusic. “We are very impressed by the versatility and low cost of the Airbus ARROW platform and Airbus’s investment in leading edge satellite mass production capabilities. We look forward to working closely with Airbus to bring economical launch solutions to their customers. This initial MOU covering several launches is the first step of a long-term relationship which will provide Airbus customers the highest level of flexibility for their small satellite launches.”

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Microlaunchers to Grow Europe’s Economy

Five feasibility studies on launch services using microlaunchers in Europe, contracted within ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme in 2018, proposed solutions for economically viable and commercially self-sustaining microlaunch services. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A flourishing small satellites market is driving demand for new ways to access space. Recent industry feasibility studies backed by ESA for new microlauncher services, are creating new business opportunities.

ESA intends to strengthen European industry by fostering a globally competitive European space sector with increased industry participation in launcher development.

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Large Innovation in a Small Southern Town: Building Northrop Grumman’s OmegA

Iuka employees take pride in over a 20 year legacy of producing large composite launch vehicle structures. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

IUKA, Miss. (Northrop Grumman PR) — In a small Mississippi town, a group of scientists and engineers recently gathered to discuss their next project: building large aerospace composite structures for Northrop Grumman’s new OmegA rocket. OmegA is being designed to launch the U.S. Air Force’s most critical spacecraft for U.S. national security missions.

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PLD Space Opens Facilities at Teruel Airport

Minister Pedro Duque, Raúl Verdú and Raúl Torres, Co-founders of PLD Space, during the open ceremony. (Credit: PLD Space)

TERUEL, Spain, 26 February 2019 (PLD Space PR) — The Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities, Mr. Pedro Duque Duque, the first astronaut in the history of Spain, has unveiled the PLD Space Propulsion facilities located at Teruel Airport.

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Gilmour Space Unveils One Vision Rocket Ahead of Suborbital Test Launch

One Vision Booster. (Credit: Gilmour Space)

Gold Coast, QLD — Australian rocket company, Gilmour Space Technologies, today unveiled its ‘One Vision’ rocket which it plans to launch later this month, and conducted a live demonstration of its automated mobile launcher, the first of its kind in Australia.

“One Vision is a scaled version of our Ariel sounding rocket, and its main objective will be to flight-test our proprietary hybrid rocket engine for commercial orbital launches starting in 2020,” said the company’s CEO & Founder, Adam Gilmour.

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