Successful Italian Sounding Rocket Flight Test

Successful sounding rocket launch in February 2022. (Credit: T4i)

PADOVA, Italy (T4i PR) — On February 24, 2022, the first flight test of an innovative sounding rocket for access-to-space applications for small satellites was successfully performed.

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AFRL/AFOSR Conducts Successful Rocket Launch at NASA Wallops for Hypersonic Research

AFRL/AFOSR BOLT II Rocket launching from NASA/Wallops Flight Facility on March 21, 2022. (Credit: NASA/Wallops/Brian Bonsteel)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL PR) – The BOLT II “In memory of Mike Holden” flight experiment, managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory/Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFRL/AFOSR), launched on the evening of March 21 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Dr. Michael Holden, who, up until his passing in 2019, had been a leader in the hypersonics field since the 1960s. The flight experiment successfully flew the planned flight path and acquired tremendous scientific data to further our understanding of boundary layer transition, turbulent heating, and drag at hypersonic conditions.

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AFRL/AFOSR to Conduct Sound Rocket Launch at NASA Wallops for Hypersonics Research

Sounding rocket lifts off from Wallops Flight Facility. (Credit: NASA/Allison Stancil-Ervin)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – A launch of a two-stage suborbital sounding rocket for the Air Force Research Laboratory/Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s BOLT II flight experiment is set to take place the evening of March 21 at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Live coverage of the launch will be provided on NASA Wallops YouTube channel. Officials at NASA Wallops project the launch to be visible anywhere from 10 to 120 seconds from parts of seven states: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as well as Washington, D.C.

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New Mexico Seeks to Attract Virgin Galactic’s Manufacturing Facility to Spaceport America

A majority of Virgin Galactic’s future Astronauts gather with Sir Richard Branson (center) for a group photo at Virgin Galactic FAITH hangar in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013. Behind the group is the WhiteKnightTwo mated with SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Updated on March 5 at 8:34 a.m. PST with additional information about space companies located in the Los Angeles area and the benefits of industry clusters to employers and employees.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The state of New Mexico has proposed that Virgin Galactic establish a production facility at Spaceport America, which is where the company plans to begin flying tourists on suborbital space rides later this year. KRQE TV reports:

The New Mexico Economic Development Department says they have a proposal to bring Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing to the Spaceport. Right now, the manufacturing location is in the Mojave desert. Spaceport America has five permanent tenants that are conducting a variety of experiments; including one company that uses laser technology to help land on the moon.

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Weightless Plate Animals – How Gravity Affects Genetic Information

MAPHEUS-9 takes off [Credit: DLR/Thomas Schleuss (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
  • On January 29, 2022, the DLR sounding rocket MAPHEUS-9 brought four experiments into weightlessness for around six minutes.
  • The rocket, weighing 1.7 tons, took off from the ESRANGE launch site in northern Sweden and reached an altitude of 254 kilometers.
  • Experiments from the fields of materials research and manufacturing technology, granulate physics and gravitational biology were also on board.

KIRUNA, Sweden (DLR PR) — Plate animals usually like it a little warmer. For science, the simplest multicellular animal in the world ended up in northern Sweden – and from there into weightlessness for a short time. On January 29, 2022, the marine organisms were successfully lifted off the rocket launch site on board the MAPHEUS-9 sounding rocket operated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) at ESRANGE (European Space and Sounding Rocket Range). Three other experiments from the fields of physics, materials research and manufacturing technology also enjoyed six minutes and ten seconds in zero gravity.

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SSC Resumes Rocket Launches From Esrange Space Center

Mapheus-10 sounding rocket launches from Esrange Space Center in Sweden. (Credit: Swedish Space Corporation)

KIRUNA, Sweden (Swedish Space Corporation PR) — Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden has resumed its rocket activities after the fire that damaged the launch site in late August. Today, only three months after the incident, a sounding rocket was once again launched from the base.

Sounding rocket Mapheus-10, owned by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), was successfully launched from the restored launch infrastructure at approximately 09.30 am on Monday, December 6. The onboard payload contained metals for various experiments including studies on solidification of alloy metals. The 1600 kg rocket reached an altitude of 250 kilometers and a speed of 2 kilometers per second. It stayed in microgravity for about six minutes.

“Our staff have worked tirelessly to get temporary launch solutions in place. Buildings used for balloons have been adapted to handle sounding rockets and we have also repaired damaged cabling and installed new safety systems. Resuming launches of these rockets is very important for research in a number of different areas. It feels fantastic that we are now back on track so soon after the accident,“ says Lennart Poromaa, site manager at Esrange.

“After the fire we were concerned that we would not be able to launch rockets from Esrange for a long time, but they have made a very quick restoration of the infrastructure. This is a unique space base and it feels great to be back,” says Alexander Kallenbach, team leader at DLR.

Oh No No, There Goes Momo

Momo F5 rocket begins to plunge back to Earth. (Credit: Interstellar Technologies webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Interstellar Technologies’ fifth launch of its Momo suborbital rocket went awry on Saturday, with the suborbital booster tumbling out of control just over a minute after lift off from Taiki Aerospace Research Field in Japan.

Video of the flight streamed online showed the rocket suffering what the company has called a failure of attitude control about 1 minute 16 seconds into the flight. The booster pitched over and began plunging toward the ocean.

It was the fifth flight of the booster, which has failed four times. Momo’s lone success came in May 2019 when the rocket reached 113.4 kilometers (70.5 miles), which is above the 100 km (62.1 mile) boundary of space known as the Karman line.

Momo rockets launched in 2017 and 2019 reached only 20 km (12 miles) and 13 km (8.1 miles), respectively, before suffering catastrophic failures.

A Momo launched in June 2018 rose for four seconds before crashing back onto the pad and exploding.

Schedule for Upcoming Launches

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The week ahead features launches by Rocket Lab and SpaceX, Vega’s first rideshare mission, two Chinese launches, and a Japanese sounding rocket flight.

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2019: A Busy Year in Suborbital Flight

Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Last year was a busy one for suborbital flights as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic conducted a combined four flights of their crewed suborbital vehicles. Despite hopes to the contrary, neither company flew paying tourists on their spaceships.

There were also 26 sounding rocket launches that carried scientific experiments and technology payloads above the atmosphere. The year saw:

  • Japanese startup Interstellar Technologies conduct a successful launch of its Momo commercial sounding rocket;
  • Texas-based Exos Aerospace continue to struggle with its reusable SARGE booster; and,
  • the first suborbital launch ever achieved by college students.
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A New Type of Fire, the Fuel of the Future?

Sparkler (Credit: CC BY 2.0–Markus Grossalber https://flic.kr/p/dzwPs9)

KIRUNA, Sweden (ESA PR) — Later this month a Texus rocket will launch from Esrange, Sweden, that will travel about 260 km upwards and fall back to Earth offering researchers six minutes of zero gravity. Their experiment? Burning metal powder to understand a new type of fire.

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NASA to Test Space Technologies on Suborbital Launch From Wallops

Sounding rocket launch. (Credit: NASA)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — Several space technologies will be put to the test with the launch of a suborbital rocket at 8 p.m., EDT Tuesday, October 22, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The launch window for the mission is 8 p.m. to midnight.  Backup launch days are Oct. 23 – 27. The Wallops NASA Visitor Center will open at 7 p.m. for launch viewing.  Coverage of the mission will begin at 7:45 p.m. on the Wallops Facebook site.  The launch may be visible in the Chesapeake Bay region.

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Momo-4 is a No-no

The Japan Times reports that Interstellar Technologies fourth launch of is Momo rocket failed on Saturday.

The vehicle only reached an altitude of 13 kilometers following the launch at 4:20 p.m., falling into the sea some 9 kilometers (about 5.5. miles) offshore from Taiki, Hokkaido, its test site, Interstellar Technologies said.

The rocket is the same model as Momo-3, measuring about 10 meters long, 50 centimeters in diameter and weighing 1 ton.

After failed attempts in 2017 and 2018, the startup finally found success with its third launch in May, with the rocket reaching an altitude of around 113 km before falling into the Pacific Ocean.

Founded in 2013 by former Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie, Interstellar Technologies aims to develop low-cost commercial rockets to carry satellites into space.

NASA Eyes Sounding Rocket Launches From Australia

A Black Brant IX sounding rockets lifts off from the Wallops Flight Facility with the ASPIRE experiment on board on Sept. 7, 2018. (Credit: NASA/Allison Stancil)

ADELAIDE, South Australia, 31 May 2019 (Australia Space Agency PR) — NASA is looking to Australian company Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) to conduct rocket launches.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Wallops Flight Facility has indicated it would like to progress discussions with ELA on their 2020 sounding rocket campaign. The campaign would provide temporary southern hemisphere launch facilities for sounding rockets for scientific investigations.

The proposed launch activities fall under the Space Activities Act 1998. The amended legislation to come into effect on 31 August 2019 (the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018). The Australian Space Agency is responsible for administering this legislation, including the relevant licenses and permits for launch sites and launch activities.

The Agency is also currently consulting with industry on draft rules under the amended Act. Ensuring the rules are in place for space activities is a priority for the Agency.

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr Megan Clark AC said, “NASA’s interest in conducting a sounding rocket campaign in Australia shows the increasing importance of commercial launch activities from Australia.

“As these activities build momentum, the Agency will continue its focus on creating a supportive regulatory environment that fosters industry growth, while ensuring public safety and considering our international obligations.”











Interstellar Becomes First Private Japanese Company to Launch Rocket to Space

The third time was the charm for Interstellar Technologies.

On Saturday, the company’s suborbital Momo-3 rocket lifted off from its launch pad in Hokkaido and reached an altitude of 110 km (68.4 miles) before falling into the Pacific Ocean about 10 minutes later, The Japan Times reports.

“It was a complete success. We’ll work to achieve stable launches and mass-produce (rockets) in quick cycles,” company founder Takafumi Horie told The Japan Times.

Measuring 10 meters in length and 50 centimeters in diameter and weighing 1 ton, it was first due to be launched Tuesday, but that launch was shelved due to a glitch in the fuel system.

It was the venture company’s third launch attempt after previous tries failed in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, the operator lost contact with Momo-1 shortly after launch. In 2018, Momo-2 only made it some 20 meters off the ground before crashing and bursting into flames due to a problem with a control system.

The MOMO sounding rocket is designed to carry a payload weighting up to 20 kg (44 lb) on suborbital flights at a cost of approximately ¥50 million (~$450,000).

Interstellar is also developing the ZERO booster to carry payloads weighing up to 100 kg (220.5 lb) to a 500 km (310.7 mile) sun synchronous orbit. The company hopes to conduct ZERO’s first flight test in 2020.