Spaceflight Inc. Successfully Debuts its Latest OTV, Sherpa-AC

SEATTLE (Spaceflight Inc. PR) — Spaceflight Inc., the leading global launch services provider, today announced it has contacted its Sherpa-AC vehicle and confirmed the vehicle is operating nominally. This is the debut launch of Sherpa-AC, the latest variation in the company’s Sherpa orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) portfolio. The Transporter 5 rideshare mission on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral on May 25 headed to a Sun Synchronous orbit, 525km. Spaceflight successfully delivered all five customer payloads, including two hosted payloads on the Sherpa OTV, to their desired orbital destinations.

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Virgin Orbit Suffers Net Loss of $157.3 Million in 2021

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)
  • Successfully launched 7 customer satellites onboard its LauncherOne rocket during the Above the Clouds mission on January 13, 2022, the company’s third successful launch.
  • Full year 2021 revenue increased to $7.4 million, up from $3.8 million in the prior year period.
  • Growing backlog of contracts, including selection by NASA’s launch service program to support the agency’s VADR missions.
  • Completed its going public transaction and began trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange on December 30, 2021.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit (Nasdaq: VORB) (“Virgin Orbit” or the “Company”), the responsive launch and space solutions company, today announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2021.

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Northrop Grumman’s Space Tracking and Surveillance System Satellites Complete Mission

Demonstration satellites retire with stellar record of performance and pave the way for future early-warning missile systems

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., March 15, 2022 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Built by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) in support of the Missile Defense Agency, two demonstration Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) satellites successfully completed their missions and have been retired. Their achievements pave the way for future operational missile warning and tracking systems that will defend the nation.

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Stratolaunch Announces Research Contract with Missile Defense Agency

Stratolaunch Roc approaches runway 12-30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit; Douglas Messier)

MOJAVE, CA – December 8, 2021 – Stratolaunch, LLC is pleased to announce a research contract with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). The company plans to augment existing Department of Defense flight test resources through affordable, commercially contracted, rapid-turnaround hypersonic flight testing for the Department of Defense and its prime contractor partners.

“We’re excited to provide MDA with a threat-representative and threat-replicating target that allows them to understand how to engage and intercept hypersonic threats,” said Dr. Daniel Millman, Chief Technology Officer of Stratolaunch.

The Stratolaunch team is eagerly preparing to complete its next set of Roc carrier aircraft test flights. The team also continues to make tremendous strides in building its first two Talon-A test vehicles: TA-0 and TA-1. TA-1 will start its power-on testing by the end of year, keeping the company on track to begin hypersonic flight testing in 2022 and to deliver services to government and commercial customers in 2023.

Talon A hypersonic vehicle (Credit: Stratolaunch)

Launched from Stratolaunch’s Roc carrier aircraft, the Talon-A vehicles are rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customized payloads at speeds above Mach 5. This capability enables routine access to the hypersonic flight environment, which is critical for scientific research, technological development, and component demonstration.

About Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch’s mission is to advance high-speed technology through innovative design, manufacturing, and operation of world-class aerospace vehicles. For the latest news and information, visit www.stratolaunch.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Utah State University Space Dynamics Lab Receives Space R&D Contracts Worth $1.3 Billion

The Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory has been awarded contracts by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) worth a combined $1.31 billion for a range of space research and development work.

The $1 billion AFRL Space & Nuclear Advanced Prototypes, Experiments & Technology (SNAPET) Research & Development (R&D) contract covers “essential engineering support and capability in the areas of sensor and system development, modeling and simulation, experimentation, data analysis and sensor and system validations on space vehicles,” the Department of Defense (DOD) announced.

Work on the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract will be performed in North Logan, Utah and Albuquerque, N.M. The contract runs until Nov. 30, 2026.

Under the $300 million MDA contract, the Space Dynamics Laboratory will perform “research, development, engineering, state of-the-art and proof-of-concept spaced-based sensor systems, and advanced technology research and development,” DOD said.

Work on the cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract will be performed in North Logan, Utah, and Huntsville, Ala. The ordering period is from Nov. 23, 2021, through Nov. 22, 2028.

Northrop Grumman Completes Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor Critical Design Review

Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor satellites will provide continuous tracking and handoff to enable targeting of enemy missiles launched from land, sea or air. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Satellite to play critical role in tracking and targeting enemy missiles

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., November 10, 2021 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) recently completed the critical design review of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) prototype for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA). The review establishes the company’s technical approach for precise, timely sensor coverage to defeat ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

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ULA to Launch Landsat 9 Satellite on Monday from Vandenberg

Landsat 9 (Credit: NASA)

VANDERBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (ULA Mission Update) — Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the Landsat 9 mission for NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. The mission is planned to lift off on Mon., Sept. 27 at 11:11 a.m. PDT from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. 

Live broadcast coverage of launch will begin at 10:30 a.m. PDT on Sept. 27 and will broadcast live on NASA TV. Live launch updates and webcast available at: www.ulalaunch.com

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2020 a Busy Year for Suborbital Launches

New Shepard landing on the pad in West Texas on October 13, 2020, with the NASA Lunar Landing Sensor Demo onboard. (Credit: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Suborbital launch used to be a sleepy field that rarely attracted much public attention. Let’s face it, atmospheric research and student experiments are not front-page news. Sounding rockets don’t have the majesty and power of a Falcon 9 or Atlas V.

In recent years, exciting new entrants in the field and widespread streaming of launches have made suborbital flights exciting. Last year saw important suborbital flight tests by SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and Skyrora that garnered worldwide interest.

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Colorado Congressional Delegation Wants Biden to Suspend U.S. Space Command Move to Huntsville

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Colorado’s nine-member Congressional delegation has asked President Joe Biden to suspend the move of the U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Ala., until the administration conducts a full review of a decision made during the waning days of the Trump Administration.

“This move undermines our ability to respond to the threats in space and is disruptive to the current mission. Additionally, significant evidence exists that the process was neither fair nor impartial and that President [Donald] Trump’s political considerations influenced the final decision,” the delegation said in a Jan. 26 letter to the president.

The U.S. Air Force announced the move of the U.S. Space Command from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs to the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville on Jan. 13, one week before Trump left office and a week after Congress certified the election of Democrat Joe Biden.

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DARPA Completes Key Milestone on Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Program

Artist’s illustration of hypersonic missile. (Credit: DARPA)

Risk reduction milestone paves way for airborne tests this year

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) today announced successful completion of captive carry tests of two variants of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) and are ready to proceed to first free-flight testing within the calendar year. The joint Agency and Service effort seeks to develop and demonstrate critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile.

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Griffin, Porter to Depart Defense Department

Mike Griffin

Defense Department Undersecretary for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin and his deputy, Lisa Porter, have resigned from their posts effective June 10 to jointly pursue an unidentified opportunity in the private sector, Breaking Defense reports.

Griffin, who previously served as NASA administrator, was brought on board in February 2019 to overhaul the Pentagon’s costly and time-consuming research, development and procurement systems through the newly established Space Development Agency (SDA) and other measures.

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Mike Griffin Alienating Friends & Enemies Alike, Firing Scientists at New Pentagon Job

Mike Griffin

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has had a tumultuous time since taking over as undersecretary of defense for research and engineering in February.

In his role as the Defense Department’s chief technology officer, Griffin has been criticized for his efforts to overhaul the Pentagon’s costly and time-consuming development and procurement of new systems through the newly established Space Development Agency (SDA).

Key personnel have departed as critics have attacked Griffin for what they view as his erratic management and decision making. In addition to SDA, he is in charge of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).

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Astra Space Set to Launch From Alaska

Astra Space is set for the first flight of its new small-satellite launcher on Thursday from Alaska.

The FAA has granted a launch license to the California company for a suborbital flight of Rocket 1 from Launch Pad 2 at the Pacific spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island.

A notice to airmen (NOTAM) about the launch has been posted for April 5 at 2000 UTC and ending on April 6 at 0200 UTC (12 to 6 p.m. AKDT /4 to 10 p.m. EDT).

Details are sparse about the company and booster. However, it is believed that the two-stage rocket will be capable of placing a payload weighing up to 100 kg into orbit.

The Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which runs the Kodiak spaceport, has billed the flight as the first of what it hopes will be many commercial launches from the underused facility.

Formerly known as Ventions LLC, Astra Space is operating under a $2 million contract with NASA to develop and flight test a high performance electric pump-fed launch vehicle. The 18-month contract runs through mid-December.

Founded in 2004, the company has been awarded 29 contracts worth nearly $21 million over the past 11 years from NASA, U.S. Air Force, DARPA, Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. Army.











A Closer Look at Astra Space

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

At some point in the next few weeks, the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska will host its first commercial rocket launch. Officials at the Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which runs the spaceport, are hoping the suborbital test flight is the first of many commercial flights from the underused facility.

While officials have not identified the California company conducting the launch, a perusal of the corporation’s board minutes indicate it is almost certainly a small Bay Area startup named Astra Space.

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North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Helping to Keep Alaska Aerospace in Business

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Army soldiers of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade from Fort Bliss, Texas, conducted a successful missile defense test on July 30 using the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. (Credit: MDA)

The nuclear missile threat posed by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has proven to be a lifeline to the Alaska Aerospace Corporation and its little used Kodiak launch facilities.

Twice during the past month, the U.S. Army launched Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interceptors from the The Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak. The tests were done under an $80.4 million contract with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

The contract helped revive the struggling agency, which suffered serious damage to its launch facilities in 2014 after a U.S. Army rocket exploded shortly after takeoff. The state-run corporation is eyeing the booming small-satellite market.

One commercial contract that is signed and scheduled for December is with a new space company that cannot now be identified, Campbell said.

Vector Space Systems, an Arizona-based company formerly known as Garvey Spacecraft, has also signed with Alaska Aerospace for test flights of its new Nanosat Launch Vehicle, the Vector-R, in 2018.

A contract that still in negotiation for launches planned in 2018 and 2019, is with Rocket Lab USA, a California-based company that has been in the space business for several years.

Rocket Lab now wants to use Kodiak for launches of its new “Electron” rocket, Campbell said.

Another company in discussions for launches in 2019 is Zero Point Frontiers, based in Alabama, for its 55-foot Xbow Launch Vehicle that will launch small satellites to orbit.

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