SpaceX Rockets U.S. Launches to New Heights in 2022

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink satellites on June 17, 2022. (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Powered by 33 flights of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, the United States leads all nations with 48 launch attempts through the first seven months of the year. The total is three short of the number of U.S. launches attempted last year, and far ahead of the 27 launches conducted by second place China through the end of July. The U.S. has conducted more launches than the 43 flights conducted by the rest of the world combined.

A number of notable flights were conducted. SpaceX launched two Crew Dragons to the International Space Station (ISS), including the first fully privately funded mission to the orbiting laboratory. United Launch Alliance (ULA) launched Boeing’s CST-100 Starship crew vehicle on an automated flight test to ISS, a crucial step before astronauts to fly on the spacecraft. Small satellite launch provider Rocket Lab conducted its first deep-space mission by sending a spacecraft the size of a microwave to the moon.

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Cygnus Completes Station Mission After Four Months

Northrop Grummans’s Cygnus space freighter, with its prominent cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays, is pictured Feb. 21, 2022, approaching the International Space Station carrying 8,300 pounds of new science experiments, crew supplies, and station hardware to replenish the Expedition 66 crew. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — At 7:07 a.m. EDT, flight controllers on the ground sent commands to release the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft from the Canadarm2 robotic arm after earlier detaching Cygnus from the nadir port of the International Space Station’s Unity module. At the time of release, the station was flying about 260 miles over the Pacific Ocean.

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Cygnus Reboost of Space Station Aborted, Next Steps Being Planned

Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon Freedom; the Cygnus space freighter; the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship; and the Progress 80 and 81 resupply ships. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — On Monday at 10:20 a.m. Central time, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus NG CRS-17 engine was scheduled to fire for 5 minutes, 1 second to test the cargo craft’s ability to reboost the International Space Station in the future. The engine firing was aborted after five seconds. Cygnus’ Mission Director at Dulles, Virginia reported the cause for the abort is under review.

NASA and Northrop Grumman flight controllers are reviewing data from today’s attempt and will develop a plan for the next steps needed to continue development of this enhanced capability as a standard service for NASA.

The Expedition 67 crew, which was never in any danger, is continuing its regular regime of work aboard the complex, which is orbiting around 260 miles above the Earth.

Maritime Launch Services Debuts on NEO Stock Exchange, But Will They Have a Rocket to Fly?

Cyclone 4M

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Maritime Launch Services has debuted on the NEO Exchange, become the latest space company to go public on a stock exchange without any revenues (losses, actually) while avoiding the “rigmarole” (Richard Branson’s words, not mine) associated with a traditional initial public offering (IPO).

In addition to a lack of revenues and a crowded launcher market, there’s another question hanging over the company that nobody can answer right now: exactly what are they going to launch from the spaceport they’re building in Nova Scotia? The Cyclone 4M booster they plan to use is built in Ukraine, which has been invaded by Russia.

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The Dmitry Daily: Rogozin Again Threatens Existence of International Space Station if U.S. Remains Hostile to Russian Invasion of Ukraine

This report from the Kremlin-backed RT news channel has extensive comments from Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin, including a threat to end the International Space Station project. He said he didn’t expect it would happen because he beliefs the U.S. will cool down over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rogozin has also been busy on Twitter. He tweeted a short video showing workers taping over national flags painted on a Soyuz 2-1.b rocket with 36 OneWeb satellites aboard that was erected on a launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome. The launch had been scheduled for Friday. On Thursday, London-based OneWeb announced it was suspending all launches of its spacecraft from Baikonur.

Translation via Twitter: The launchers at Baikonur decided that without the flags of some countries, our rocket would look more beautiful.

Other Recent Tweets
(Translated from Russian)

Rogozin Tweet

Roskosmos will not service the remaining 24 RD-180 engines in the US, and the RD-181 will stop deliveries.

Editor’s note: The RD-180 rocket engines power United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket. Rogozin was referring to Russian personnel who support the launches. Two RD-181 engines power the first stage of Northrop Grumman’s Antares booster that launches Cygnus resupply ships to the space station.

Rogozin Tweet

In the context of the announced sanctions, Roscosmos will reconsider its priorities and focus on achieving full import independence in matters of space instrumentation. The main design, technological and financial resources released from joint ventures with the US and the EU international research projects, will now be directed to the creation of space systems exclusively for defense and dual purposes.

Roscosmos Tweet

The State Corporation will not cooperate with Germany on joint experiments on the Russian segment of the ISS. Roskosmos will conduct them independently.

Russian space program will be adjusted against the backdrop of sanctions, the priority will be the creation of satellites in the interests of defense.

Rogozin Sticks a Knife into Northrop Grumman’s Antares Rocket

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket liftoff from pad 0A at 12:40 p.m. EST from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, on Feb. 19, 2022. The Cygnus spacecraft, carrying 8,300 pounds of science investigations and cargo, is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Monday, Feb. 21. (Credits: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said Russia will no longer sell rocket engines to U.S. companies, dealing a potentially fatal blow to Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket. The decision was made in retaliation for U.S. sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

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OneWeb Suspends Satellite Launches From Baikonur

Soyuz rocket launches 36 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 27, 2021. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Friday launch of 36 OneWeb broadband satellites aboard a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome is officially canceled as the London-based company refused demands from the Russian government amid growing international tensions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The Board of OneWeb has voted to suspend all launches from Baikonur,” the company said in a one-sentence statement.

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Nanoracks Customer Payloads Launched on Northrop Grumman Resupply Mission to ISS

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket liftoff from pad 0A at 12:40 p.m. EST from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, on Feb. 19, 2022. The Cygnus spacecraft, carrying 8,300 pounds of science investigations and cargo, is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Monday, Feb. 21. (Credits: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil)

HOUSTON, February 22, 2022 (Nanoracks PR) — The past several months have been very busy here at Nanoracks, and we have continued our momentum into 2022 with another cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Northrop Grumman’s 17th (NG-17) commercial resupply mission carried five Nanoracks customer payloads on board the Cygnus spacecraft. These experiments will help improve environmental research on Earth and demonstrate technology necessary for future in-space economies. Additionally, this mission includes the first two “space trash bags” which will be used to collect waste from inside the ISS and deploy it into a reentry burn orbit on behalf of NASA.

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Cygnus Installed to Station for Cargo Transfers

ISS configuration after arrival of Northrop Grumman CRS-17 supply ship. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft installation on the International Space Station is now complete. Cygnus launched atop an Antares rocket at 12:40 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 19 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. At about 4:44 a.m., NASA astronaut Raja Chari, along with NASA astronaut Kayla Barron as backup, captured Cygnus, carrying 8,300 pounds of research, hardware, and science experiments to the International Space Station.

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Colgate-Palmolive to Launch First-Ever Private-Sector Skin Health Payload on Northrop Grumman CRS-17

Antares rocket on the launch pad. (Credit: NASA Wallops/Terry Zaperach)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., February 16, 2022 (CASISS PR) – When Northrop Grumman’s upcoming 17th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission launches to the International Space Station (ISS), it will carry the first-ever private-sector skin health experiment to be done on the orbiting laboratory. This investigation from PCA SKIN, a Colgate-Palmolive brand, will study the effects of microgravity on skin physiology.

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A Closer Look at Northrop Grumman Commercial Space Station

Northrop Grumman’s free flyer commercial destination design leverages flight proven elements to provide the base module for extended capabilities including science, tourism, industrial experimentation, and building of infrastructure beyond initial design. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

NASA has released the selection statement that lays out the space agency’s reasoning for awarding Nanoracks, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman a total of $415.6 million to develop plans for private space stations under the Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) program. The facilities are designed to maintain a permanent U.S. presence in Earth orbit when the International Space Station (ISS) is retired in 2030.

In this story, we’ll look at the Northrop Grumman’s station. The project summary is drawn from publicly available information. Excerpts from the selection statement follow. Long paragraphs in the latter have been broken up to improve readability. Acronyms have been spelled out for the sake of clarity.

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Five Space Station Research Results Contributing to Deep Space Exploration

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst works on the MICS experiment aboard the International Space Station. Observations of how cement reacts in space during the hardening process may help engineers better understand its microstructure and material properties, which could improve cement processing techniques on Earth and lead to the design of safe, lightweight space habitats. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — More than 3,000 experiments have been conducted aboard the  International Space Station during the 21 years humans have been living and working in space. These experiments have provided insights helping improve life back on Earth and explore farther into the solar system. Researchers have shared these results in thousands of scientific publications.

Over the past few months, scientists shared the outcomes of space station studies that could help us recover more water from life support systems, construct Moon bases, grow plants in space, and more.

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NASA Glenn Continued Research in 2021 for Space Exploration and Next-Gen Aeronautics

Credit: NASA

CLEVELAND, Ohio (NASA PR) — Looking deeper at the way fire behaves in space, Glenn researchers delivered the fifth in a series of NASA investigations in January. The Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment-V (Saffire-V) successfully tested larger, more dynamic fires for over 26 hours inside Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft.

As NASA Glenn continued to manage the difficulties of the pandemic, scientific and technology research continued at a rapid clip this year with an eye toward the future.

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NASA Selects Blue Origin, Nanoracks and Northrop Grumman to Develop Commercial Destinations in Space

Northrop Grumman’s free flyer commercial destination design leverages flight proven elements to provide the base module for extended capabilities including science, tourism, industrial experimentation, and building of infrastructure beyond initial design. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has signed agreements with three U.S. companies to develop designs of space stations and other commercial destinations in space. The agreements are part of the agency’s efforts to enable a robust, American-led commercial economy in low-Earth orbit.

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