Virgin Orbit Set to Launch on Dec. 22

LauncherOne operated in powered flight for only seconds before an anomaly shut it down after being dropped from the Cosmic Girl Boeing 747. (Credit; Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Orbit is planning to launch five satellites using its LauncherOne rocket on Dec. 22, according to a U.S. Coast Guard Notice to Mariners.

LauncherOne will be dropped by the Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl over the Pacific Ocean near the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. The launch window will last from 2-5 p.m. PST, the notice said. Backup launch dates are Dec. 23 and January 8-10 from 2:15-5 p.m.

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NRL/NASA Experiment Launched to Study Origins of Solar Energetic Particles

The UltraViolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC) Pathfinder undergoes inspection after the successful completion of its thermal vacuum test at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. The front, gold-colored, aperture shows the multiple external occulters that will block direct light from the solar disk. The occultation allows the faint solar corona to be observed at Lyman-alpha wavelengths. The UVSC instrument sits on a transport cart, which is not part of the flight package. (Credit: U.S. Navy)

By Paul Cage
U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

WASHINGTON  –  A joint-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory/NASA experiment prepares to investigate the origins of Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) that could affect Navy satellites and harm personnel during future crewed missions to the moon and beyond.

Researchers will use a new instrument, the Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph Pathfinder (UVSC Pathfinder) to try to understand the origins of these particles, how they’re generated close into the sun to provide accurate space weather forecasting when these events happen.

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NASA’s Laser Communications Tech, Science Experiment Safely in Space

Conceptual image of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration payload transmitting optical signals. (Credits: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and a NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory space weather payload to study the Sun’s radiation lifted off at 5:19 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

The payloads launched aboard the Space Test Program Satellite-6 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida as part of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Test Program 3 mission.

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United Launch Alliance Atlas V Launches Critical National Security Mission Direct to GEO

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches on the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) mission from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. The mission’s Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) spacecraft hosts NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC) Pathfinder. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla., Dec. 7, 2021 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Test Program (STP)-3 mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command lifted off on Dec. 7 at 5:19 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. To date ULA has launched 147 times with 100 percent mission success. STP-3 marked ULA’s longest duration mission at seven hours and 10 minutes until spacecraft separation.

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Exploring Together, NASA and Industry Embrace Laser Communications

Illustration of STPSat-6 with the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) payload communicating data over infrared links. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

By Katherine Schauer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Our televisions and computer screens display news, movies, and shows in high-definition, allowing viewers a clear and vibrant experience. Fiber optic connections send laser light densely packed with data through cables to bring these experiences to users.

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United Launch Alliance to Launch STP-3 Mission in Support of National Security

An ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS GEO Flight 5 mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41at 1:37 p.m. EDT on May 18. (Credit; United Launch Alliance)

Mission will be a direct injection to Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) and longest mission to date

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla., Dec. 2, 2021 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is in final preparations to launch the Space Test Program (STP)-3 mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command. The launch is on track for Dec. 5, 2021 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Launch is planned for 4:04 a.m. EST. The live launch broadcast begins at 3:30 a.m. EST at www.ulalaunch.com.

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AAC Clyde Space Wins Order for U.S. DoD Satellite Mission Led by Aegis Aerospace

UPPSALA, Sweden (AAC Clyde Space PR) — AAC Clyde Space AB, a leading new space company, has won an order from U.S. Aegis Aerospace to supply its Starbuck power systems and battery solutions worth 500,000 USD (approx. 4.5 MSEK) for a satellite mission carried out on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

The mission, the STPSat-7 led by Aegis Aerospace, is a 150 kg satellite that will host research and technology demonstration payloads for the Department of Defense Space Test Program. It will operate in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

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Astra Space Makes It to Orbit

Rocket 3 lifts off from Kodiak Island. (Credit: Astra Space webcast)

The fourth time was a charm for Astra Space.

The company succeeded in reaching Earth orbit for the first time with its Rocket 3 booster on Friday evening. The small-satellite booster put a mass simulator into orbit after liftoff from the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island.

The demonstration launch was sponsored by the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center as part of the Space Test Program’s Rapid Agile Launch Initiative (RALI). The initiative aims to demonstrate commercially available solutions for placing U.S. Space Force payloads into orbit on a flexible schedule.

The two-stage Rocket 3 is 11.6 meters (38 ft) tall with the capability of placing 25-150 kg (55-331 lb) into a 500 km (310 mile) sunsynchronous orbit.

Rocket 3 had failed in three previous attempts from the Alaskan spaceport. The first failed shortly after liftoff, the second reached space but lacked sufficient velocity to enter orbit, and the third took off sideways after one of its first stage engines failed a second after liftoff. The booster continued to fly but was destroyed by the range safety officer after it flew outside of its assigned airspace.

Rocket Lab Announces Third Quarter 2021 Financial Results, Issues Guidance for Fourth Quarter

Electron launches with OHB satellite. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

Q3 2021 Financial Results Highlights

  • Revenue above high end of prior guidance range at $5.3 million
  • Backlog increased from $141 million at June 30, 2021 to $183 million as of September 30, 2021, and currently stands at $237 million as of November 15, 2021
  • Space Systems revenue in the third quarter 2021 grew 360% over the same quarterly period in 2020 to represent 27% of total revenue for the nine months ended September 30, 2021
  • Successfully completed the merger with Vector Acquisition Corporation resulting in ending cash balance at September 30, 2021 of $792.7 million

Q4 2021 Guidance

  • Revenue to range between $23 million to $25 million
  • GAAP and non-GAAP gross margins of 13 percent and 27 percent, respectively
  • GAAP and non-GAAP operating expenses between $24 million to $26 million, and $19 million to $21 million, respectively
  • GAAP Net Loss between $24 million and $26 million, and Adjusted EBITDA loss of $9 million to $11 million, which reflects adjustments for stock-based compensation, 3rd party fees associated with M&A activity, depreciation and amortization, FX gains and losses, interest expense, taxes and other recurring and non-recurring items
  • All of the above exclude any warrant expense impacts from the public and private warrants assumed from the Vector Acquisition Corporation merger that closed on August 25, 2021, and also excludes any impacts from the Advance Solutions Inc. acquisition and related purchase price accounting, and excludes any financial contributions and accounting impacts from the pending Planetary Systems Corporation acquisition announced today

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced financial results for its fiscal third quarter ended September 30, 2021.

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Virgin Orbit to Launch Again by End of Year

LauncherOne (Credit: Mojave)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Virgin Orbit PR) — Coming off flawless back-to-back launches, the Virgin Orbit team has settled into a steady flight preparation rhythm with LauncherOne. [Earlier today], the fully assembled rocket that will carry our next customers’ satellites to space has left our rocket factory in Long Beach and headed up to the bare concrete pad at the Mojave Air and Space Port that serves as all the spaceport we need. Already, the rocket has been mated to the customized 747 that serves as our flying launch pad, mobile mission control, and fully re-usable first stage all at once.

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Rogue Space Moves Forward with Seed Round Offering and Closes Pre-Seed Round to Provide Orbital Services

Laura spacecraft (Credit: Rogue Space)

Rogue Space Systems is developing a smart spacecraft program to offer transport, and in-space services to the growing space market today announced it has closed its initial round of investment to support the development of their spacecraft programs

LACONIA, NH, October 20, 2021 (Rogue Space PR) — Rogue Space Systems Corporation, a U.S. company that is developing a smart spacecraft program and is planning to offer transport, and in-space services to the growing space market today announced it has closed its initial round of investment to support the development of their spacecraft programs. Rogue’s first generation of orbital servicing vehicles, (Orbots™) Laura, Charlie, Fred, and Bob are equipped with highly sophisticated sensors, cameras, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) software.

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Astra Space Reveals Cause of Launch Failure, Sets Window for Next Flight

Rocket 3.3 makes a wobbly liftoff from Kodiak Island after losing a first stage engine. (Credit: NASASpaceflight.com/Astra Space webcast)

ALAMEDA, Calif., October 12, 2021 (Astra Space PR) – Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR) today announced a commercial orbital launch on behalf of the United States Space Force. The launch vehicle, LV0007, will carry a test payload for the Space Test Program’s second mission STP-27AD2. The launch window is divided into two segments: the first segment is open from October 27, 2021 through October 31, 2021, and the second is open from November 5, 2021 through November 12, 2021. LV0007 will launch from the Astra Spaceport in Kodiak, Alaska.

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SMC Partnering with Astra for Upcoming USSF Launch

Rocket 3.1 after liftoff from Kodiak Island in Alaska. (Credit: Astra)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USSF PR) — The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center will partner with Astra, a wholly-owned U.S. company based in Alameda, California, to perform a demonstration launch for the Department of Defense from the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska later this month.  

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Astra Plans Next Launch in Late August From Kodiak Island

Video Caption: The Final System Test, also known as the “hot fire” engine test for Astra’s Launch Vehicle 0006.

Astra is hoping the third time will be a charm.

The publicly-traded launch provider will make another attempt to reach orbit with its Rocket 3 booster late this month from Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island. The window for the launch attempt opens on Aug. 27 and runs until Sept. 11.

Astra’s first commercial launch includes a payload for the U.S. Space Force (USSF). It is the first of two launches ordered by the military service.

Astra’s two previous orbital launch attempts failed. The first rocket was destroyed shortly after launch in September 2020 after it began to veer off course. A second rocket launched last December reached space but lacked sufficient velocity to enter orbit.

On July 1, Astra became a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq exchange after a merger with Holicity.