The first half of 2022 was a busy period in suborbital space with 23 launches conducted that did not involve tests of ballistic missiles or defensive systems. Twelve people flew above the Karman line, new boosters and space technologies were tested, and the first commercial suborbital launch was conducted from Australia. And some science was done.
We covered the above mentioned flights in depth in a story published on Tuesday. In this piece we’ll look a broader look at who launched what, when, where, why and on what.
For decades, the suborbital launch sector was largely a backwater. Militaries tested ballistic missiles, scientists conducted experiments, and engineers tested new technologies. A sounding rocket is small potatoes compared with orbital rocket launches and the glamor of human spaceflight. Few people paid much attention.
All that has changed in recent years as Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin and their billionaire owners — Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos — started launching themselves and others on suborbital joyrides. Startups have been conducting suborbital flight tests of new orbital launch vehicles designed to serve the booming smalls satellite market. Suborbital has become a much more interesting sector.
This year has been no exception. The first half of 2022 saw Blue Origin send 12 people into space on two New Shepard flights, a Chinese company conduct six launches in a program to develop aa suborbital spaceplane and hypersonic transport, South Korea and Iran perform flight tests of three different smallsat launchers, Germany test technologies for reusable rockets, and first-ever commercial launch from Australia. And, a great deal of science was done.
DLR flies three-stage sounding rocket for the first time.
Component structures, measurement methods and evaluation algorithms tested for the re-entry phase.
A modular and distributed data acquisition system allowed the efficient recording of data from the different experiments.
Focus: space travel, aerodynamics, sounding rockets.
ANDOYA, Norway (DLR PR) — Reusable carrier systems are exposed to high loads and temperatures when returning to the surface. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has now successfully tested component structures, measurement methods and evaluation algorithms for the re-entry phase with the flight experiment STORT (key technologies for high-energy return flights from carrier stages).
In the early morning of June 26, 2022, the three-stage rocket experiment was launched from the Andøya Space launch site in northern Norway. At the apex of the trajectory at an altitude of 38 kilometers, the upper stage reached a flight speed of around 9,000 kilometers per hour, which corresponds to a Mach number of over eight. It then fell into the Atlantic Ocean more than 350 kilometers from the starting point.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On the heels of a successful launch on June 26, NASA is set to launch two more sounding rockets from northern Australia during the first half of July. These missions will help astronomers understand how starlight influences a planet’s atmosphere, possibly making or breaking its ability to support life as we know it.
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.
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – A launch of a two-stage suborbital sounding rocket for the AirForce 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.
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.
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.
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, […]