Hello and welcome to Max Q. In this issue:
- An Artemis launch update
- New agreements between Rocket Lab and Sierra Space for space transportation
- News from Axiom, OneWeb and more
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NASA provides update on Artemis I launch
NASA has said it plans to attempt the launch of the Artemis I mission on September 23 and 27, dates far enough away that the agency will hopefully have enough time to resolve issues with the conduct of the mission. hydrogen that led to the grounding of the rocket during the first two launch attempts.
The agency should replace and reseal leaking liquid hydrogen lines, then run tests to make sure the seal worked, said Jim Free, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems development, during a press briefing. NASA will not perform a full wet rehearsal in addition to these tests. All of this work will take place on the launch pad, which saves the agency the trouble of rolling the massive rocket to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.
The other major hitch is that these launch dates must be approved by the US Space Force’s Eastern Range, which governs the launch schedule from the US East Coast. The Space Force will also have to provide a waiver for the rocket’s flight termination system, which runs on batteries and is only approved for use for 25 days. All in all, I’m crossing my fingers that the engineers can finish all the work required before the next launch attempt.
Rocket Lab and Sierra Space have signed separate agreements with the US Department of Defense (DOD) to explore how their respective flight systems – Rocket Lab’s Electron and Neutron rockets, Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser space plane – could be used for ultra-fast cargo delivery on Earth.
The agreements are known as Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), a way to facilitate R&D work between government and non-government entities like startups and private companies. These specific CRADAs fall under the US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), an agency under the DOD.
As part of its agreement, Sierra Space and the military will jointly explore the use of its Dream Chaser aircraft for hypersonic space transportation for ground cargo and personnel delivery. Under Rocket Lab’s deal, it will work with the military to investigate the use of Electron and Neutron launchers, also for cargo delivery. Although Electron has successfully reached orbit several times, Neutron and Dream Chaser are still under development.
“Point-to-point space transportation provides a new capability to rapidly move equipment around the world in hours, enabling faster response to global emergencies and natural disasters,” Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said in a statement. a statement. “We are thrilled to collaborate with USTRANSCOM on this innovative, cutting-edge research program that may ultimately change the way the Department of Defense views logistics response options.”
More news from TC and beyond
- Albedoa startup that is building a constellation of satellites capable of capturing visible and thermal imagery, has closed a $48 million Series A funding round, co-led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Shield Capital.
- Apple will soon allow iPhone users to send an emergency SOS via satellite connectivity.
- Axiom space won a $228.5 million contract with NASA to design the spacesuits and life support systems that will be worn by Artemis III astronauts.
- China carried out two launches less than two hours apart, bringing its total number of orbital launches so far this year to 37. Meanwhile, the country is preparing a rocket to send the third module of the Tiangong space station into space in October.
- Countdown Capital raised $15 million for its second fund to support companies seeking, in the words of founder Jai Malik, to “rebuild America’s industrial base.”
- Europe launched an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana on Wednesday. The rocket carried a communications satellite from the French company Eutelsat.
- Huawei will offer SMS via satellites on its flagship Mate 50 series, announcing the news just a day before Apple creates its own satellite communication equivalent.
- Mast space systems held an auction for its assets as part of its ongoing bankruptcy process, with Astrobotic submitting the highest bid at $4.5 million.
- Near space labs will share Earth observation images with researchers, non-profit organizations and universities for 12 months, as part of its Community Resilience and Innovation Earth Imagery Grant program.
- OneWeb incurred a $229 million impairment charge for fiscal year 2022 due to the postponement of several launches that were to go into space aboard Russia’s Soyuz rockets.
- South Korea Lunar Orbiter has successfully executed a course correction maneuver, a key part of its much longer journey to the moon.
- SpaceX conducted an eight-second static fire test of the six engines of the prototype Ship 24 from its Starbase facility in southeast Texas. The test caused a handful of grass fires in the area around the platform.
- Taranisa company developing a crop intelligence platform, raised a $40m Series D round led by European climate tech fund Inven Capital.
- The United States Federal Communications Commission may enact new rules setting a five-year limit for the disposal of satellites in low Earth orbit once they have achieved their mission objectives. The current recommendation for satellite de-orbit is 25 years after mission completion.
Picture of the week
NASA tweeted this photo from 1969 of Queen Elizabeth II with Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin at Buckingham Palace. The trio met the Queen as part of the Apollo II Goodwill Tour. Whatever your feelings about the British monarchy, the world lost a paragon of the 20th century this week.
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