Tsangs Group Announces Investment in Ad Astra Rocket Company

HONG KONG (Tsangs Group PR) — Tsangs Group is pleased to announce that we have invested in Ad Astra Rocket Company (“Ad Astra”), known for the project of Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (“VASIMR®“) space engine.

Founded in 2005 by former NASA astronaut and plasma physicist, Dr Franklin Chang Díaz, Ad Astra is an American rocket propulsion company dedicated to developing advanced plasma rocket propulsion technology.


NASA Selects Masten Space & Spectral Energies for Funding to Develop Rotating Detonation Engine Technology

An RDE operates via a continuous detonation wave that propagates around the inside of a cylindrical combustor. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected projects for funding by Masten Space Systems and Spectral Energies that are focused on developing technology for advanced rotating detonation rocket engines (RDE).

The space agency selected the companies for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards that are worth up to $150,000 apiece. Masten and Spectral Energies are both working on high-performance injector systems.


JAXA Tests Pulse Detonation Engine in Suborbital Flight

S-520-31 lifts off with pulse detonation engine aboard. (Credit: JAXA)

JAXA said that on Tuesday it tested a pulse detonation engine that uses shock waves powered by methane and other gases to create thrust. The Japanese space agency believes the project could produce smaller but powerful engines for use on deep-space exploration missions.

The engine was launched aboard on the S-520-31 sounding rocket from the Uchinoura Space Center. The Japan Times reported JAXA recovered a capsule with test data from the ocean.

Rocket Model/No.Launch Time
Launch Vertical AngleMaximum Altitude ReachedLanding Time
S-520-3105:3080.0 degrees235 km/146 miles
(244 seconds after launch)
476 seconds after launch
Source: JAXA

“This experiment is the world’s first flight demonstration of rocket engine technology that safely and efficiently converts shock waves (explosive waves) generated when a mixed gas of fuel and oxygen reacts explosively into thrust,” JAXA said in a press release. “Technology of the detonation engine system (DES) combines a pulse detonation engine (PDE) that intermittently generates shock waves and a rotary detonation engine (RDE) that continuously rotates shock waves in a donut-shaped space.”

The Japan Times reported that JAXA is working the Nagoya University professor Jiro Kasahara to develop an engine that would be about one-tenth the size of ones currently used on deep space spacecraft. The engine, which could be ready for use in about five years, would be able to operate for extended periods of time.

Prometheus Test Campaign Moves Forward

The Prometheus engine (Credits: ArianeGroup)

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN, Germany (CNES PR) — While the 1st copy of the engine of the future will soon be delivered, the 1st phase of demonstration tests is being prepared. The campaign will take place in 2 stages, in Vernon then at the P5 test bench in Lampoldshausen (Germany), refitted to accommodate Prometheus.


Aethera’s New RF Power Processing Unit for Ad Astra’s VASIMR Engine Completes Full Power Acceptance Tests

WEBSTER, Texas USA and HALIFAX, NS, Canada – A new generation radio-frequency (RF) Power Processing Unit (PPU) for the VASIMR engine, built by Aethera Technologies Ltd. of Canada, has completed a series of full power acceptance tests at Ad Astra Rocket Company’s Texas facility near Houston. The unit completed these tests on August 12 by operating in a thermal steady-state with no anomalies at its full power rating of 120 kW.

The RF PPU is now ready to be incorporated into Ad Astra’s vacuum facility so that it can be tested with the VX- 200SS VASIMR prototype. These tests are part of Ad Astra’s ongoing program under the NASA NextSTEP partnership contract.


Prometheus: Testing of the Future LOX-Methane Engine Demonstrator Begins

Prometheus rocket engine (Credit: ArianeGroup Holding)

  • Prometheus is a very low cost and potentially reusable European engine demonstrator intended for use by Europe’s launchers by 2030
  • Testing of the 3D-printed gas generator is under way at the DLR site in Lampoldshausen, Germany
  • The engine’s Design Review began on 30 November at the Vernon and Ottobrunn sites and is scheduled to close in January 2019

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN, Germany (ArianeGroup PR) — Exactly one year after the signing of the Prometheus demonstrator development contract between the European Space Agency (ESA) and ArianeGroup, testing of the 3D-printed gas generator has started at the DLR site in Lampoldshausen, Germany.

Prometheus is a European demonstrator for a very low cost reusable engine operating on liquid oxygen (LOx) and methane. It is the precursor of the future engines for Europe’s launchers by 2030.


DLR Developing Reusable Rocket Engine for Small Satellite Launcher

Rocket motor during hot fire test (Credit: DLR)

  • DLR researchers have developed a reusable rocket engine specifically for the launch of small satellites.
  • The rocket engine consists of two central components: a metal injector head manufactured by means of metal 3D printing and a ceramic combustion chamber.
  • Small satellites have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry.
  • Focus: space, small satellites, new manufacturing technologies, fibre ceramics

STUTTGART, Germany (DLR PR) — Whether alone or in a constellation, small satellites weighing from just a few kilograms (nanosatellites) up to several hundred kilograms (micro- and minisatellites) are becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated and have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry. In the coming years, hundreds of such small satellites will be carried into Earth orbit.

As part of the EU project SMILE (Small Innovative Launcher for Europe), researchers from the Institute of Structures and Design at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have developed a reusable rocket engine especially for launching such satellites, and have performed an initial series of successful trials on a test rig.

Russia, India Negotiate on Human Spaceflight Cooperation

Translated from Russian using Google Translate

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On September 25, 2018, the delegation of the Roskosmos State Corporation headed by Dmitry Rogozin met with representatives of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

The main topics of negotiations between the two space organizations were: joint work within the framework of manned space programs, where the Russian side is ready to offer its significant achievements and partnership, as well as possible joint initiatives in the areas of satellite navigation.


Pioneer Astronautics Selected for Two NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

pioneer_astronautics_logoBob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics has been selected for two NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards to continue development of a system to extract volatile elements from asteroids and a new rocket engine.

Pioneer’s Carbonaceous Asteroid Volatile Recovery (CAVoR) system “produces water and hydrogen-rich syngas for propellant production, life support consumables, and manufacturing from in-situ resources in support of advanced space exploration,” according to the project’s technical abstract.


Russians Test Fire Reusable LOX-LNG Engine

Test of a reusable LOX-LNG engine. (Credit: Roscosmos)

The Russians conducted a hot firing last week on a new reusable rocket engine that is powered by liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The test took place on Sept. 28 in Peresvet (Moscow region).

The rocket engine was designed and manufactured by KB Khimmash imeni A.M. Isayeva, which is a branch of GKNPTs Khrunichev. A Roscosmos press release describes the test as being carried out on a “double integration engine.”


India Prepares Homegrown Cryogenic Engine for First Launch

India’s cryogenic engine set for integration with rocket
Business Standard

The indigenous cryogenic engine that would make India totally self-reliant in all aspects of space launch vehicle technology is set to be integrated with the indigenous Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV).


Big Announcement from XCOR Next Week

XCOR Aerospace will be holding a press conference in Beverly Hills, California on Wednesday, March 26, to announce what Rand Simberg of Transterrestrial Musings will be “a significant milestone” in commercial spaceflight. Simberg says he knows what the announcement will be but has an non-disclosure agreement with the Mojave, Calif.-based rocket company. His blog is buzzing with speculation on what XCOR will announce.

Meanwhile, author Michael Belfiore has this to report over at his blog:

“A mysterious project has been underway on the XCOR shop floor behind a black curtain for some time now, and the company has been incredibly successful lately, with contracts and money rolling in faster than ever before. In fact, XCOR made Inc. magazine’s list of 500 fastest growing companies in America last year.

Are we about to witness a new private spaceship unveiled?”