Space SPAC Index: Terran Orbital Completes Contract, UK Says It Didn’t Delay Virgin Orbit Launch, Rocket Lab Sets Virginia Launch Date & Astra Space’s Ticking Clock

Electron on the launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. (Credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

Welcome to S-SPACi.

In this week’s edition, Terran Orbital completed a contract for Lockheed Martin, UK government says it didn’t delay Virgin Orbit‘s launch, Rocket Lab sets a new date for its first launch from U.S. soil, and the clock continues to tick on Astra Space‘s delisting notice.

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ABL’s RS1 Rocket Fails on Maiden Flight

RS1 booster on the launch pad. (Credit: ABL Space Systems)

ABL Space’s RS1 rocket failed shortly after liftoff from its launch pad at the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) on Tuesday, the company said.

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The Virgin Orbit Failure: Space is Hard, Profits are Harder

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

After months of buildup about the first orbital launch of satellites from UK soil, the first launch ever from Western Europe, the beginning of a new era in British spaceflight, Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 dropped the LauncherOne rocket over the Atlantic Ocean off the southern coast of Ireland. The booster’s Newton 3 first stage engine ignited and shut down, the second stage separated and its Newton 4 engine ignited. All appeared to be nominal.

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U.S. Companies Launched 87 Times Behind SpaceX’s Record-tying Year

A Falcon 9 launches the EROS-C3 satellite on Dec. 29, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

Part 1 of 3

U.S. companies led the world last year with 87 orbital launch attempts on the strength of SpaceX’s record-tying 61 launches. There were 84 successes, two failures and one partial failure in a year that saw more than 2,100 satellites launched.

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Virgin Orbit Stock Plunges as UK Launch Fails

LauncherOne ignites on its way to space. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

Virgin Orbit’s (NAS: VORB) much hyped “Start Me Up” launch from the United Kingdom failed on Monday, sending nine satellites plunging to their doom and the company’s stock price sinking to its lowest point ever. The failure raised more questions about the financial viability of Richard Branson’s cash-strapped company.

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The Week Ahead: Virgin Orbit, ABL Space, SpaceX and Chinese Launches Scheduled

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

While the first week of 2023 saw only one launch worldwide, things will get a lot busier in week 2. Virgin Orbit is set to conduct its first launch from the UK, ABL Space hopes to launch its first rocket ever, and SpaceX and China have three launches apiece on their manifests.

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Space 2023: SpaceX’s Starship Leads List of Two Dozen New Launchers That Could Fly This Year

Starship/Super Heavy on the launch pad at Boca Chica, Texas. (Credit: SpaceX)

Part 3 of a Series

SpaceX’s massive Starship/Super Heavy launcher leads a list of more than two dozen new launch vehicles that could have their maiden flights this year. The manifest included new launchers from established players Arianespace and United Launch Alliance as well as scrappy startups across the globe. Payload capacities to low Earth orbit range from 100 metric tons down to 65 kg.

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Space 2023: Commercial Missions to ISS, Private Spacewalk & Suborbital Tourism Flights

Polaris Dawn crew Jared Isaacman, Anna Menon, Sarah Gillis and Scott Poteet. (Credit: Jared Isaacman)

Part 1 of a Series

The privatization of human spaceflight is set to accelerate this year with an increase in the number of commercial launches to the International Space Station (ISS) and the long-delayed start of suborbital space tourism flights by Virgin Galactic. Professional astronauts will continue to rotate to and from ISS and China’s Tiangong space station.

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Space SPAC Index: Falcon 9 Launches 47 Payloads for SPAC Companies on Rideshare Mission

Falcon 9 Transporter-6 launch on Jan. 3, 2023. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Happy New Year to all and welcome to the first S-SPACi of 2023.

SpaceX started off the year with a boom on Tuesday with the launch of its Transporter-6 rideshare mission from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The Falcon 9 first stage booster touched down on land instead of an off-shore drone ship, sending a sonic boom echoing across the Sunshine State.

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Russia’s 2022 Launch Total Reduced by Ruptured Relations with West Over Ukraine

The Soyuz MS-22 rocket is launched to the International Space Station with Expedition 68 astronaut Frank Rubio of NASA, and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos onboard, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Rubio, Prokopyev, and Petelin will spend approximately six months on the orbital complex, returning to Earth in March 2023. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Russia’s conducted 22 launches without any failures in 2022. Although that is a respectable number, it left a nation that once led the world in orbital flights a distant third behind the United States (87) and China (64) in a record year with 186 launches.

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Move Over Cornwall, Here Comes Spaceport Esrange

Credit: Spaceport Esrange

British spaceports face competition from bases in Europe’s frozen north

While much attention has been focused on Virgin Orbit’s plan to launch from Spaceport Cornwall in England and the creation of launch facilities in Scotland, the development of new orbital spaceports in Scandinavia has largely flown under the radar. But, now one of those Nordic bases is ready for its closeup.

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