DARPA Names Potential Sites for Launch Challenge, Eighteen Teams Prequalify

DARPA Launch Challenge candidate sites (Credit: DARPA)

ARLINGTON, Va. (NASA PR) — DARPA has narrowed the potential launch locations for the DARPA Launch Challenge to eight, with options for both vertical and horizontal launch. The challenge will culminate in late 2019 with two separate launches to low Earth orbit within weeks of each other from two different sites. Competitors will receive information about the final launch sites, payloads, and targeted orbit in the weeks prior to each launch.

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Landspace Identifies Reaction Control System Leak as Cause of Launch Failure

Landspace has concluded a damaged third stage reaction control system that developed a fuel leak caused the failure of the private Chinese launch company’s ZhuQue-1 rocket during its maiden flight on Oct. 27, GB Times reports.

The anomaly, which occurred 6 minutes 42 seconds after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, made the rocket go out of control and sent the Weila-1 (Future-1) micro-satellite plunging into the Indian Ocean.

The conclusion is a preliminary one. The company is conducting additional analysis to confirm the finding.

It was the first orbital launch attempt by a private Chinese space company. A number of Chinese commercial startups are competing for business in the orbital and suborbital markets.

Landspace said the three-stage rocket reached an altitude of 337 km (209.4 miles), which means it entered space without achieving orbit.  The booster reached a top speed of 6.3 km/second (14,093 mph), which is below orbital velocity.

Blue Origin Landing Ship Arrives in Florida

A cargo ship that Blue Origin plans to convert to serve as a landing pad for the first stage of its New Glenn booster has arrived in Pensacola, Fla., the Pensacola News Journal reports.

The 600-foot cargo ship the Stena Freighter arrived in the Port of Pensacola on Thursday after making a transatlantic voyage from Portugal.

Blue Origin, the private rocket company started by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, will be using the ship as a landing platform for the company’s New Glenn rocket design expected to lift off in 2020 for its first test flight.

Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith confirmed during the Aerospace Futures Alliance Summit on Oct. 10 that the Stena Freight would be used to land rockets, according to a report from the technology news website GeekWire.

 

Vector Signs Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with U.S. Air Force

TUCSON, Ariz. (Vector PR)  – Vector today announced it has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the United States Air Force Space Command and Missile Systems Center’s Space Superiority Directorate. In addition to its nearly three-year partnership with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the CRADA with the Air Force highlights Vector’s continued efforts to develop critical technologies with the U.S Department of Defense.

Located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo Calif., the Space Missile Systems Center will engage in collaborative research and development activities relating to Vector’s launch services and the Air Force’s technology and mission needs. The CRADA is effective for one year and includes provisions for protecting information by both the Air Force and Vector.

Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), a subordinate unit of Air Force Space Command, is the center of technical excellence for developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining military space systems. SMC’s mission is to deliver resilient and affordable space capabilities. The center is responsible for on-orbit check-out, testing, sustainment and maintenance of military satellite constellations and other Department of Defense space systems.

About Vector:

Created by the original founding team of SpaceX, Vector connects space startups and innovators with dedicated launch services and enabling platforms to access space more efficiently than ever before. Vector is proud to design, build and launch its vehicles and enabling platforms in the United States of America. For more information, please visit http://www.vector-launch.com

Vector Raises $70 Million Series Be Funding Round

Flight test of P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle from Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in California. (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 19, 2018 (Vector PR) — Vector, a leading microsatellite launch company comprised of New Space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced that it has secured $70M in a Series B funding round led by Kodem Growth Partners, in conjunction with Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners.

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Vector Elects James F. Palmer to Board of Directors

James F. Palmer

TUCSON, Ariz. (Vector PR) — Vector, a microsatellite launch company comprised of New Space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced that James (Jim) F. Palmer, the former corporate vice president and chief financial officer of the Northrop Grumman Corporation, has been elected to Vector’s Board of Directors.

A respected veteran of the aerospace community, Palmer brings with him more than 45 years of financial experience, including CFO positions at three Fortune 500 companies, and spanning large corporations such as Northrop Grumman Corporation, Visteon, Boeing Capital Corporation, a subsidiary of The Boeing Company, and McDonnell Douglas Corporation.

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PLD Space, Airborne Systems North America sign to Develop Llauncher Recovery Systems

ARION 1 & 2 technology demonstration. (Credit: PLD Space)

PLD Space is developing a family of recoverable launch vehicles
Airborne Systems has almost 100 years of experience in the EDLS systems

ELCHE, Spain — October 3, 2018 (PLD Space PR) — Airborne Systems has developed a parachute recovery system for PLD Space to advance the development of their recoverable launch vehicle family (ARION 1 and ARION 2). Drawing on almost 100 years of experience with the design and development of Entry, Descent and Landing Systems (EDLS), Airborne Systems provide a solution consisting of a Drogue parachute Subsystem and a Main parachute subsystem.

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Russia, India Negotiate on Human Spaceflight Cooperation

Translated from Russian using Google Translate

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On September 25, 2018, the delegation of the Roskosmos State Corporation headed by Dmitry Rogozin met with representatives of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

The main topics of negotiations between the two space organizations were: joint work within the framework of manned space programs, where the Russian side is ready to offer its significant achievements and partnership, as well as possible joint initiatives in the areas of satellite navigation.

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Ariane 5’s 100th Launch a Complete Success

Ariane 5 lifts off (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has successfully launched two communications satellites: Horizons 3e for Intelsat and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, and Azerspace-2/Intelsat 38 for Azercosmos and Intelsat.

The launch took place on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 19:38 pm (local time) from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America).

This was Arianespace’s sixth mission of the year, as well as the 100th mission by the Ariane 5 heavy launcher. In 22 years of operations, Ariane 5 has orbited a total of 207 satellites.

Today’s launch also marked the 300th mission by the Arianespace family of launchers, reflecting the company’s ongoing role in support of leading satellite operators, both regional and global.
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Vector Awarded Patent for Enhanced Liquid Oxygen-Propylene Rocket Engine

Flight test of P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle from Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in California. (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

Microsatellite launch company receives patent for technology it pioneered, enabling higher performance at reduced cost and complexity

TUCSON, Ariz., Sept. 25, 2018 (Vector PR) — Vector a microsatellite launch company comprised of New Space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced that the company received a U.S. patent for its enhanced liquid oxygen-propylene rocket engine. Vector is the first and only launch provider to utilize propylene fuel and liquid oxygen (LOX) in an operational launch system. This engine patent validates the innovative nature of Vector’s approach and further protects the company’s fundamental technology as it prepares to deliver customer payloads to orbit.

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Results of EXOS Aerospace SARGE Launch at Spaceport America

SARGE launch at Spaceport America. (Screenshot from Exos Aerospace webcast)

Spaceport America, NM and Greenville, TX (EXOS Aerospace/Spaceport America PR)Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport and EXOS Aerospace Systems & Technologies, Inc., a leading developer of reusable space launch vehicles based in Greenville, Texas, announce a successful test launch of their newest vehicle, SARGE.

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GPS Glitch Limited Altitude of Exos SARGE Rocket

SARGE launch at Spaceport America. (Screenshot from Exos Aerospace webcast)

Space News reports that Exos Aerospace’s SARGE launch from Spaceport America last month failed to reach its intended altitude due to a glitch in its GPS system.

In a mission report provided by the company a week and a half after the launch, Exos said that a GPS receiver on the rocket stopped providing data during the rocket’s ascent. That triggered an automatic shutdown of the rocket’s engine 38 seconds after liftoff, versus a planned duration of 62 to 65 seconds, said John Quinn, chief operating officer of Exos, Sept. 5.

As a result of the early engine shutdown, the rocket reached a peak altitude of 28 kilometers, rather than the planned 80 kilometers. Quinn said an extrapolation of the rocket’s performance during that powered phase indicated the rocket might have been able to reach nearly 90 kilometers had the engine fired for the full duration.

The cause of the GPS unit malfunction in the rocket is still being studied. The unit started providing data again later in the flight, and an inspection turned up no obvious damage to the unit, cabling or antennas. There were separate dropouts of telemetry from the rocket during the flight, according to the mission report.