Welcome to the 5.32nd edition of the Rocket Report! There’s a lot to discuss this week, including the surprising success of a quasi-private company that got its first launch attempt into orbit. I don’t think this feat got the attention it deserved.
As always, we look forward to reading your contributions. If you don’t want to miss an issue, use the box below to subscribe (the form is not visible in his AMP-enabled version of the site). Each report includes information on small, medium and heavy rockets and a summary of his next three launches on the calendar.
Virgin Orbit files for bankruptcyThe launch company announced Tuesday morning that it had filed for bankruptcy in the US District of Delaware, reports Ars. The cash-strapped company said it believed bankruptcy was the best way to sell itself. Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said: , founder Richard Branson agreed to a $31.6 million owned-debt financing. can.
Potential asset sale … The best outcome for the California-based company would be to find a buyer to continue Virgin’s start-up operations. Through the bankruptcy process, the company could reduce some of its debt and emerge as a leaner business serving market segments seeking dedicated launches in responsive vehicles. However, in recent weeks Virgin Orbit has been unable to find a buyer willing to keep the business going, so a wholesale sale of the company’s operations and assets is probably more likely. There was a public affair with a Texas-based investor named Matthew Brown, but it was never clear if he was a serious bidder or had the money to save Virgin Orbit. He probably didn’t, as Tim Fernholz reports. (submitted by Ken the Bin and Barry Alexander)
Amazingly, the Space Pioneer reaches orbitOn Sunday, Space Pioneer became the first Chinese private launch company to achieve orbit with a liquid-fueled rocket. The Tianlong-2 rocket was launched from the transport erector launcher at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center to deliver a small remote-sensing experimental satellite into orbit. This launch means that Space Pioneer (officially named Beijing Tianying Technology Co., Ltd.) will become the first private company to reach orbit on its first launch.
Aim for a medium lift … three-stage Tianlong-2 can carry 2 tons to low earth orbit. The company has raised a whopping $438 million since its inception in 2018. Part of this funding will be used to develop his larger Tianlong-3 launcher and its rocket engine. This Falcon 9-like rocket can lift 15 tons into low-Earth orbit and has a reusable first stage. It can be reasonably argued to what extent China’s private companies are private or separate from state-owned space companies, but this is an impressive achievement nonetheless. . With China rising here, the United States must continue to foster a commercial space community. (Posted by Ken the Bin)
Rocket-powered space plane fliesNew Zealand-based space company Dawn Aerospace announced Wednesday that it has completed the first three test flights of its rocket-powered spacecraft. His Mk-II Aurora vehicle is 4.5 meters long and powered by a combustion rocket engine fueled by kerosene and hydrogen peroxide. During its first flight, the vehicle flew to an altitude of about 1,800 meters and reached a top speed of about 315 kilometers per hour, Ars reports.
to space next year … test campaigns taking place from Glentanner Airfield in New Zealand finally show that the vehicle tops out at around 20 kilometers. Lessons learned from this plane will be incorporated into his second version of the Mk-II Aurora, which may fly later this year or early 2024. The goal is to launch his second version of this spaceplane 100 km above the internationally recognized boundary of space. (submitted by David Eye)
China tests sea landingThe state-owned Chinese Academy of Sciences has successfully tested a rocket landing vertically at sea, Global Times reports. The rocket was small, only 2.1 meters long and weighed 93 kilograms. In addition, it had a turbojet engine instead of a variable-thrust liquid rocket engine. Nevertheless, the 10-minute test shows serious intentions by the Chinese government to start reusing the first phase.
soft landing … during testing, the rocket prototype flew at an altitude of over 1,000 meters before descending with a smooth hover and decelerating with reverse thrust. Landing speed was slowed to less than 2 meters per second in the final stages before the rocket landed steadily in the sea. This kind of rocket recovery technology at sea could be widely applied to future rocket models, including the Jielong-3 and Jielong-3 heavy-lift launcher.
Astra says Rocket 4 is in orbitAstra plans to launch its first Rocket 4 vehicle by the end of this year, Space News reports. Astra CEO Chris Kemp said: “We continue to expect Rocket 4 test flights to begin in the second half of 2023, with major development milestones on track leading up to the first flight. We are proceeding to ,” said the phone.
we will see … These milestones include the completion of qualification of the upper stage engine and full-term static combustion testing of the first stage engine, he said. The company also conducts vehicle propellant tank tests and works on vehicle production lines. Rocket 4 is significantly larger than Rocket 3.3, with a projected payload capacity of up to 600 kilograms up to intermediate inclined orbits. (Provided by EllPeaTea)
Canadian spaceport advancesThanks to a mild winter, construction of roads for Canada’s spaceport continued throughout the season, spaceQ reports. This allowed Maritime Launch Services, which is developing a spaceport in Nova Scotia, to begin work on the launch pad. The company hopes to host a suborbital launch attempt this summer.
step by step approach …if all goes well, the Nova Scotia spaceport will host an orbital launch attempt by Skyola in early 2024, but that’s assuming the Edinburgh launch company is ready. The goal of the launch is for spaceport operators to learn and prepare for medium lift launches in the next decade. Maritime Launch Services sees a large demand for medium lift and would like to help meet it. (submitted by JoeyS-IVB)