Skyrora Reveals New UK-built Vehicle in Live Test

Engine test (Credit: Skyrora)

EDINBURGH, Scotland (Skyrora PR) — On 23rd December 2020 the Skyrora test and flight operations team performed one of their most important test campaigns to date, a full upper stage static fire test, at their engine development complex in Fife, Scotland. This historic event represents yet another significant milestone in the Edinburgh-based rocket manufacturer’s development plan. In fact, it is a crucial milestone for the entire UK space industry.

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Orbex Secures $24 Million Funding Round for UK Space Launch

Prime launch vehicle (Credit: Orbex)
  • New funding secures roadmap to first launch from Sutherland spaceport in Scotland
  • Orbex is 1st UK space-sector company to win prestigious Horizon 2020 funding

Forres, UK, 10th December 2020 – Orbex, the innovative European space launch company, has secured $24 million in a funding round led by BGF, the UK’s most active investment company, and Octopus Ventures, one of the largest VCs in Europe.

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Agnikul Cosmos Becomes the First Company to Sign an Agreement With ISRO Under the Newly Proposed IN-SPACe Entity

CHENNAI, India, December 8, 2020 (Agnikul Cosmos PR) — The Department of Space (DoS) and Agnikul Cosmos Private Limited, an IIT Madras based launch vehicle startup, are pleased to announce that they have signed a non-disclosure agreement under the newly proposed IN-SPACe entity. Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) is an independent nodal agency under DoS for allowing space activities and usage of DOS owned facilities by private organizations as well as to prioritise the launch manifest.

Under the agreement, Agnikul will be able to work with various Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) centers to get access to technical information and facilities necessary to go forward with their launch vehicle development that will enable rapid space access to anyone launching a small satellite. This is a significant step & the first such step by the Department of Space in mentoring private players to collaborate with ISRO.

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Isar Aerospace Raises $91 Million

Spectrum rocket (Credit Isar Aerospace)

Munich-based Isar Aerospace has raised 75 million euros ($91 million) from investors to further development of its Spectrum small-satellite launch vehicle.

Swiss venture fund Lakestar led the Series B round with the participation of existing backers Airbus Ventures, Earlybird, Vsquared Ventures and former SpaceX executive Bulent Altan.

Spectrum is a two-stage vehicle designed to lift up to 1,000 kg (2,204 lb) into low Earth orbit. It will be equipped with a multi-ignition second stage engine that will provide flexibility in delivering payloads to precise orbits. Isar is designing the vehicle with satellite constellations in mind.

Private Launch Company Agnikul Cosmos Signs NDA that Allows Access to ISRO Facilities

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — Department of Space has today (3rd Dec. 2020) entered into a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with M/s Agnikul Cosmos Pvt. Ltd, a Chennai based start-up company located in the National Centre for Combustion R&D, IITM, Chennai building private small satellite launch vehicle.

Under the NDA, the company will be enabled for accessing the facilities and technical expertise available in ISRO centers to proceed with their launch vehicle development program.

The agreement is the first one of its kind, the Department has signed after the establishment of IN-SPACe, the authorization and regulatory body under DOS for enabling private players to undertake space activities in India.

The NDA was signed in the presence of Dr. K Sivan, Secretary, DOS/ Chairman, ISRO, and Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras. Shri R Umamaheswaran, Scientific Secretary, ISRO, was the signatory on behalf of Department of Space for the NDA with M/S Agnikul Cosmos Pvt Ltd. Shri Srinath Ravichandran, CEO, Aginukul signed the NDA on behalf of the company.

Dr K Sivan along with ISRO Centre Directors; Shri S Somanath, Director, VSSC, Dr V Narayanan, Director, LPSC, Shri Sam Dayala Dev, Director, IISU and Shri K Alagavelu, Director, IPRC assured all support to M/s Agnikul for testing and qualifying their launch vehicle.

The event ended with the wishes from the ISRO team to Agnikul for a grand success in their Space endeavor.

Aevum Rolls Out Ravn X World’s First Autonomous Launch Vehicle & Largest Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)

Ravn-X vehicle (Credit: Aveum)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., December 3rd, 2020 (Aevum PR)— Aevum, Inc., a provider of comprehensive space logistics and autonomous launch services for lightweight payloads, is rolling out its Ravn X Autonomous Launch Vehicle today, the world’s largest Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), by mass, designed to deliver satellites to space as fast as every 180 minutes. Aevum’s customer and mission partner, The United States Space Force, will also take part in the Ravn X unveiling.

Join us at 12 pm ET/9 am PT for the historic public unveiling (virtual for COVID restrictions): More details at www.aevumlaunch.com

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Keeping Spacecraft on Course with Propellant Management Technologies

Carthage students Taylor Peterson (left) and Celestine Ananda are shown here observing the gauging of unsettled liquids during a period of microgravity on a flight with ZERO-G in November 2018. (Credits: Carthage College)

by Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

Rocket off course? It could be a slosh problem.

Propellant slosh, to be exact. The motion of propellant inside a rocket-based launch vehicle or spacecraft tank is an ever-present, vexing problem for spaceflight. Not only can it make gauging the amount of available propellant difficult, but the volatile waves of liquid can literally throw a rocket off its trajectory.

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Jim Cantrell’s Phantom Space Aims for Launch in 2 Years

Phantom Daytona-E rocket. (Credit: Phantom Space)

Tucson.com reports about Jim Cantrell’s new launch company, Phantom Space. He formed the company after leaving the position of CEO of Vector, a launch company that went bankrupt.

Cantrell, who was an early member of Elon Musk’s SpaceX team, said he was convinced to start another satellite tech company by Michael D’Angelo, a former colleague at Vector, after the pair figured they could use the many lessons they took from Vector.

The pair co-founded Phantom Space with Michal Prywata, a biotech business executive who is investor and chief strategy officer for Phantom.

Cantrell said Phantom is taking a broader view of the still-evolving New Space industry, which has been driven by the rapid development of tiny satellites for research and communications.

Rather than create a vertically integrated company that builds everything from the ground up, Phantom is using existing technologies — notably including proven, off-the-shelf engines for its launch vehicles — and integrating them into systems to serve its customers…

After setting up a small shop on East Speedway, Phantom is in the process of building four launch vehicles and hopes to launch its first orbital flight in about two years, skipping suborbital test flights, Cantrell said.

Skyrora Conducts Vacuum Chamber Engine Tests to Replicate Space-like Conditions

Booster (Credit: Skyrora)

Scotland-based company successfully conducts a series of 100 static engine firing tests including a vacuum chamber engine test

EDINBURGH (Skyrora PR)  – UK rocket company, Skyrora, has conducted a series of static test fires of its 3rd stage LEO engine, including a vacuum chamber test, designed to replicate space-like conditions to further advance its launch ambitions.

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Vector Back in Business with New Owners, Focus & Tech

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)

Bankrupt small satellite launch provider Vector is back in business with new owners, a new engine for the Vector-R booster, and a focus on suborbital flights. SpaceNews reports:

The new owner of Vector’s launch assets is a consortium led by John Moran, president and chief executive of Moran Logistics, a shipping company based in Pennsylvania. They are restarting Vector with Robert Spalding, a retired Air Force brigadier general who previously served on the staff of the National Security Council, as chief executive.

Spalding said in an interview he had been familiar with the original Vector during his time at the White House because of his work at the time on developing secure 5G networks. After leaving government service, he started up a 5G company and talked with Vector about supporting those plans. He kept in contact with Vector after it filed for Chapter 11 and convinced investors to purchase the assets….

Vector had been developing engines that used propylene and liquid oxygen propellants. The new Vector plans to instead use engines powered by a more conventional combination of liquid oxygen and refined kerosene, or RP-1, propellants. Barker has been developing such engines since the 1990s for companies such as Space America and Earth to Sky.

ESA Signs First Boost! Commercial Space Transportation Contracts

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA has signed the first three contracts with European economic operators arising from its permanently open call for proposals for commercial space transportation services.

Boost! – ESA’s Commercial Space Transportation Services and support to Member States programme was adopted at Space19+ and an Open call for proposals  under its Element 1 was launched in April this year. Through this programme, ESA aims to stimulate and support competitiveness and new commercial European space transportation services.

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CNES Eyes Biomass to Fuel Future Ariane Launchers

Biomethane installation (Credit: Naskeo Environnement)

The idea of ​​using biomethane to propel future generations of Ariane is gaining ground. This innovative technological solution would have great economic and environmental interest and many positive repercussions in Guyana.

PARIS (CNES PR) — The future Ariane Next launcher , which could take over from Ariane 6 by 2030 or 2035, will have to be more economical to meet market needs. One of the avenues to achieve this could be to use liquid methane rather than hydrogen to power the engines.

“The matter is not yet 100% decided, but we are looking with interest at the combination of oxygen and methane. This is why we are looking for the best methane production channel from an economic as well as an environmental standpoint,” said Pascal Noir, project manager at the Launchers Department.

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All Solid Motors for Vega-C Complete Qualification Tests

Artist’s impression of Vega-C launcher in flight. (Credit: ESA-Jacky Huart)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Europe’s new-generation Vega-C small launch vehicle developed by ESA will increase performance and extend current launch capabilities at Europe’s Spaceport.

The solid rocket motors built for Vega-C under contract to Avio have all completed the hot fire tests to qualify them for flight.

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Spaceport America and C6 Launch Systems Sign Agreement

LAS CRUCES, NM (Spaceport America PR) — Spaceport America signed an agreement with Canadian Corporation C6 Launch Systems to provide services, resources, and access to the vertical launch sites facilities for testing operations and activities.  

C6 Launch Systems (www.c6launch.ca) plans to begin work at Spaceport America in January 2021. Over a six-week period, the Canadian rocket company will install a new vertical test stand and conduct system integration tests including several engine firings at Spaceport America. These tests will validate the avionics, engine control, ground control and communications subsystems.

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