Showing posts with label Space. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Space. Show all posts

21 April, 2023

SpaceX's next-generation Starship exploded minutes after lift-off.....

The latest launch of a SpaceX rocket ended in disaster after it exploded minutes after lift off in an uncrewed test flight from South Texas on Thursday.  Reuters reported that the flight test was the first for Starship mounted atop the company's new Super Heavy rocket, and the first launch ever for that lower-stage booster, which SpaceX claims is the most powerful launch vehicle on Earth.

Executives from SpaceX are spinning the event as a success as the craft made it halfway to the edge of space, nearly 25 miles up before it failed.  The original plan was for the craft to climb to around 90 miles or so before re-entering the earth's atmosphere near Hawaii.

Dislodged filter caused Virgin Orbit's failed UK launch

Virgin Orbit Completes Key Failure Investigation Test, 
Confirms Cornwall Failure Root Cause 

Virgin Orbit has successfully completed a month-long, full-scale test series to verify the root cause of the January 9th launch failure and test and verify the modification designed to address it.

A key element to the investigation focusing on the filter in the fuel tank outlet, the test campaign recreated flight conditions and demonstrated the dislodging and subsequent travel of the filter into the Newton-4 engine. This high-fidelity test article included all the key elements of the fuel feed system up to the engine inlet.

Ground test results matched flight data, confirming the dislodging of the filter as the initiation event of the January launch failure. A series of nine tests verified the performance of a redesigned filter.

The failure investigation centred on a standard fault tree methodology which guided the investigation and key analyses and tests. All potentially credible scenarios were investigated. The modified design, that has now been verified through test, has been incorporated into the Company’s next rocket which is planned for a flight from Mojave Air and Space Port later this year.

Virgin Orbit has recently filed plans under Chapter 11 bankruptcy arrangement subject to the court's approval. The company is pursuing a competitive sale process in order to maximize value for all stakeholders. Virgin Orbit has proposed a May 4th deadline for indications of interest (“IOI”) and has asked the Court to approve bid procedures including the IOI deadline and a bid deadline of May 14, 2023. Any sale transaction will be implemented according to the Plan or according to a separate sale order under section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code. Pursuant to the proposed Plan, the sale proceeds will be distributed in accordance with the Plan and any applicable sale order.

15 April, 2023

Boeing delivered the third and fourth O3b mPOWER satellites

Boeing delivered the third and fourth O3b mPOWER satellites to content connectivity service provider SES, with the duo embarking for Cape Canaveral, Florida. The pair will launch to medium Earth orbit (MEO) to provide fibre-like broadband connectivity to people around the world, joining the first two satellites on orbit.

“As we get ready to launch the next pair of O3b mPOWER satellites in the coming weeks, we are excited to have them join the first two satellites which are currently undergoing rigorous testing as they arrive at their target medium earth orbit,” said Ruy Pinto, Chief Technology Officer at SES. “The early indications from our test program are that the O3b mPOWER system will more than fulfill the expectations of our customers. We will be delivering networks that offer the industry’s best throughput, high availability and predictable performance that are essential for our customers' critical applications and creating new business opportunities for SES.”

14 April, 2023

To Jupiter and beyond: Airbus-built JUICE begins its epic odyssey

To Jupiter and Beyond: Airbus-built JUICE begins its epic odyssey

ESA mission will study Jupiter and its icy moons

ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 14:14 CEST on 14 April. The successful launch marks the beginning of an ambitious voyage to uncover the secrets of the ocean worlds around giant planet Jupiter.

Following the launch and separation from the rocket, ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, confirmed the acquisition of signal via the New Norcia ground station in Australia at 15:04 CEST. The spacecraft’s vast 27 m long solar arrays unfurled into their distinctive cross shapes at 15:33 CEST, ensuring Juice can travel to the outer Solar System. The completion of this critical operation marked the launch a success.

“ESA, with its international partners, is on its way to Jupiter,” says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher. “Juice’s spectacular launch carries with it the vision and ambition of those who conceived the mission decades ago, the skill and passion of everyone who has built this incredible machine, the drive of our flight operations team, and the curiosity of the global science community. Together, we will keep pushing the boundaries of science and exploration in order to answer humankind’s biggest questions.”

The ESA spacecraft operations team at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, took control of the spacecraft and confirmed the reception of the first telemetry and the smooth deployment of the solar arrays. The Airbus-built JUICE is now officially on its way to Jupiter! 

Additional equipment and instruments will be progressively turned on in the next few days and the operations team will run tests to make sure they are all fully operational.

“After years of work, watching this launch live from our sites across Europe was a very emotional moment for all those who have worked on this incredible mission. This is the best of Europe coming together!” said Michael Schöllhorn, CEO Airbus Defence and Space from Kourou. “I’m eager to see the next big thing coming from the European space community.“

JUICE: a European shared success

12 April, 2023

Boeing delivers second pair of O3b mPOWER satellites to SES

Boeing delivered the third and fourth O3b mPOWER satellites to content connectivity service provider SES, with the duo embarking for Cape Canaveral, Florida. The pair will launch to medium Earth orbit (MEO) to provide fibre-like broadband connectivity to people around the world, joining the first two satellites on orbit.

“As we get ready to launch the next pair of O3b mPOWER satellites in the coming weeks, we are excited to have them join the first two satellites which are currently undergoing rigorous testing as they arrive at their target medium earth orbit,” said Ruy Pinto, Chief Technology Officer at SES. “The early indications from our test program are that the O3b mPOWER system will more than fulfill the expectations of our customers. We will be delivering networks that offer the industry’s best throughput, high availability and predictable performance that are essential for our customers' critical applications and creating new business opportunities for SES.”

05 April, 2023

Virgin Orbit files for bankruptcy......

Virgin Orbit Holdings and its U.S. subsidiaries have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code following its recent failed launch from Cornwall. 

The firm founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2017 had already reduced its number of staff due to an inability to raise sufficient out-of-court funds to continue to operate as a going concern. 

“The team at Virgin Orbit has developed and brought into operation a new and innovative method of launching satellites into orbit, introducing new technology and managing great challenges and great risks along the way as we proved the system and performed several successful space flights – including successfully launching 33 satellites into their precise orbit. While we have taken great efforts to address our financial position and secure additional financing, we ultimately must do what is best for the business. We believe that the cutting-edge launch technology that this team has created will have wide appeal to buyers as we continue in the process to sell the Company. At this stage, we believe that the Chapter 11 process represents the best path forward to identify and finalize an efficient and value-maximizing sale,” said Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit.

To help fund the process and protect its operations, the Company has received a commitment from Virgin Investments Limited for $31.6 million in new money DIP financing. Upon approval from the Bankruptcy Court, the DIP financing is expected to provide Virgin Orbit with the necessary liquidity to continue operating as it furthers the marketing process commenced pre-petition to sell the Company and seek a value-maximizing transaction for the business and its assets.

The UK Space Agency confirmed that it had worked with Virgin Orbit for a number of years however the latest issues were of a commercial nature for the company to address and comment on.

Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rockets were designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and were launched from the wing of a modified Boeing 747- 400 aircraft that used to fly on Virgin Atlantic's routes. It had succeeded in some launches with a number of small satellites delivered to orbit for NASA and other companies. However,   the recent failure of the launch from Cornwall's Spaceport sent the firm's shares spiralling and the future is hanging in the balance.  The relatively high cost and the slow launch rate have all had a negative impact on attracting new customers.   

17 March, 2023

Australia’s Hypersonix selected by US Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) for test vehicle

Australia’s aerospace company Hypersonix Launch Systems has been selected to provide hypersonic vehicles to the United States’ Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) for testing.

The Australian start-up was selected from a field of major international aerospace companies competing for the DIU contract under the Hypersonic and High-Cadence Airborne Testing Capabilities (HyCAT1) program.

The Silicon Valley-headquartered organization that taps into ‘non-traditional’ innovators, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and its U.S. Air Force and Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (USD R&E) partners, selected Hypersonix Launch Systems to provide a hypersonic vehicle for its Hypersonic and High-Cadence Airborne Testing Capabilities (HyCAT1) program. DIU’s contract with Hypersonix demonstrates the United States’ increased willingness to source commercial technologies from allied countries to meet urgent strategic challenges.

DIU selected Hypersonix from the 63 respondents to the agency’s September 2022 HyCAT solicitation seeking vehicles usable for high cadence long-endurance testing of hypersonic platforms and components; sensors for detecting and tracking; and systems for communications, navigation, guidance and control. Specifically, DIU requested a vehicle capable of operating in a ‘representative environment’ that can maintain speeds above Mach 5 with a manoeuvrable/non-ballistic flight profile and at least a 3-minute flight duration with near-constant flight conditions. DIU also wishes the flights to be repeated at short intervals.

Hypersonix responded with its DART AE (Additive Engineering) vehicle. DART AE makes significant use of 3D-printing and is powered by a hydrogen-fuelled SPARTAN scramjet engine, capable of flying non-ballistic flight patterns at speeds of Mach 5 to Mach 7 and up to 1000 kms in range (400 seconds flight time). The DART AE has a modular payload bay of up to 20 lbs and Hypersonix plans to fly it in early 2024.

“Our vehicles are capable of non-ballistic flight patterns to at least Mach 7, which exceeds the HyCAT1 specification,” David Waterhouse, Managing Director, Hypersonix Launch Systems.”

Rocket Lab successfully launches 34th Electron Rocket.

Rocket Lab USA, a leading launch and space systems company has announced it has successfully launched its 34th Electron rocket and second mission from its launch site on Wallops Island, Virginia deploying two spacecraft to low Earth orbit for Capella Space.

he “Stronger Together” mission lifted off at 22:38 UTC, March 16 2023 from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Rocket Lab successfully deployed two 100-kg class Capella Space satellites to low Earth orbit.

"Congratulations to Capella Space and well done to the Rocket Lab team for another flawless launch from Virginia,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “This year we’re really picking up the launch pace so while one Electron was on the pad at Launch Complex 2 for Capella Space, the team in New Zealand has been preparing the next rocket at Launch Complex 1 to enable two launches from two continents within days of each other. Dedicated and responsive space access for small sats is here now, made possible by Electron.”

21 February, 2023

Solar Orbiter............Discover UK involvement in the ESA Solar Orbiter mission to study our Sun.

Solar Orbiter was selected as the first medium-class mission of ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Programme. The programme outlines key scientific questions which need to be answered about the development of planets and the emergence of life, how the Solar System works, the origins of the Universe, and the fundamental physics at work in the Universe.

Solar Orbiter aims to make significant breakthroughs in our understanding both of how the inner heliosphere works, and of the effects of solar activity on it. Solar Orbiter will measure solar wind plasma, fields, waves, and energetic particles close enough to the Sun to ensure that they are still relatively pristine.

The mission orbit will take the spacecraft on an ellipse around the Sun that will take it up to the Sun’s higher latitude. This will allow the solar features to be kept in view and tracked for several weeks.

Launched on 10 February 2020, the mission will provide close-up, high-latitude observations of the Sun. Solar Orbiter will have a highly elliptic orbit – between 1.2AU at aphelion and 0.28AU at perihelion.

The nominal mission duration is seven years, with the option to extend the mission by a further three years.

Mission facts

The mission orbit is designed to be synchronous with the Sun’s rotation providing long duration observations for the first time. This will enable the mission to observe the build-up of events such as solar storms.

The instruments on board will undertake remote sensing observations of solar features and in situ measurements of the solar wind bombarding the spacecraft. This combination of remote and in situ instruments will enable in depth studies of the close link between the origin of solar features such as solar eruptions and their emergence into space. This unique mission could provide major breakthroughs in our understanding of how the inner solar system works and is driven by the solar activity.

The three-axis stabilised design of the spacecraft is being developed to withstand the scorching heat from the Sun that will hit one side and the cold of space on the opposite side which will usually be in shadow. The solar arrays are being engineered to provide the critical power supply without overheating.

Solar Orbiter is managed and financed mainly by ESA with strong international collaboration with NASA as part of the International Living with a Star initiative.

09 February, 2023

Airbus European Service Modules - Three in a row!

Three European Service Modules (ESMs) are being integrated in parallel in Airbus’ Bremen cleanrooms. Integration of ESM-3 is almost complete and ESM-4 is well underway, and the newly arrived ESM-5 structure is now the focus of initial integration steps.

Each ESM requires the integration of more than 22,000 elements. This is the first time ever that NASA has entrusted a non-US prime, Airbus through ESA, to build a mission-critical element for an American human spaceflight mission.

“Together with the European Space Agency, Airbus is providing half the spacecraft that will return humans to the Moon - taking them further than ever before into space and of course returning them safely to Earth,” said Marc Steckling, Head of Space Exploration at Airbus. “We have already delivered the first two ESMs, with ESM-2 currently being integrated in Orion at Kennedy Space Center. With the arrival of the ESM-4 structure last summer and that of ESM-5 just before Christmas, we have now started the serial production phase. Our cleanroom facilities have been optimised to accommodate three ESMs at the same time, and we are on track to meet NASA’s requirement to deliver one ESM per year going forward.”

The ESM is a critical element of NASA's crewed Orion spaceship as it provides the spacecraft’s main propulsion system while also enabling orbital manoeuvring and positioning control. Electrical power generation and distribution are also provided by the ESM along with supplying the crew with the central elements of life support such as water and oxygen. The ESM also regulates thermal control while it is connected to the crew module. In addition, the unpressurised service module can be used to carry additional payloads. ESA has invested about €2 billion in the Orion programme and contracted Airbus to lead the European consortium and build six ESMs to date.

30 January, 2023

Airbus built Inmarsat-6 F2 satellite arrives on board an Airbus Beluga in Florida for launch

The Second Inmarsat-6 satellite is scheduled for launch in February

87th Airbus Eurostar satellite delivered

Multi-beam Ka-band and L-band and digitally processed payload for maximum flexibility

The second Airbus-built Inmarsat-6 geostationary telecommunications satellite (I-6 F2) has arrived on board an Airbus Beluga at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida ready for its launch in February.

The second satellite of the Inmarsat-6 generation is based on Airbus’ ultra-reliable Eurostar E3000 spacecraft and will be the 58th Eurostar E3000 built by Airbus. It will be the ninth Eurostar in orbit that is equipped with electric propulsion for orbit raising, reinforcing Airbus’ position as the world leader in electric propulsion.

François Gaullier, Head of Telecommunications & Navigation Systems at Airbus, said: “I-6 F2, with its sophisticated digitally processed payload, will join Inmarsat-6 F1 (I-6 F1) in orbit giving Inmarsat even more flexibility, capability and capacity. This is the 10th geo-telecommunications satellite we have built for our long-term customer Inmarsat, a leading provider of global mobile satellite communication services, and with I-6 F1 the satellites will enable a step change in the capabilities and capacity for their ELERA services, and deliver significant additional capacity for their Global Xpress network.”

I-6 F1 and I-6 F2 each feature a large 9m aperture L-band antenna and six multi-beam Ka-band antennas, giving a high level of flexibility and connectivity. They also carry new generation modular digital processors to provide full routing flexibility over up to 8000 channels and dynamic power allocation to over 200 spot beams in L-band, per spacecraft. The Ka-band spot beams are steerable over the full Earth disk, with flexible channel-to-beam allocation.

The satellites will enable Inmarsat to further enhance its world-leading ELERA (L-band) and Global Xpress (Ka-band) networks respectively, for customers across land, sea, and air.  They are also the next step in the company's plans for the world’s first multi-dimensional network, Inmarsat ORCHESTRA. The ‘network of networks’ will build on Inmarsat’s existing space-based capabilities to provide a transformational growth in capacity and new features for customers into the 2030s and beyond.

20 January, 2023

Airbus finalises JUICE - ready for its mission to Jupiter

Satellite ready to leave Europe before its launch in April

Galileo tribute plaque unveiled in Airbus’ cleanroom and mounted on the spacecraft

ESA’s mission will study Jupiter’s three largest icy moons and the Jovian system’s magnetic fields

The Airbus-built JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission) spacecraft will shortly leave Toulouse, France, for Kourou, French Guiana, for lift-off on an Ariane 5 in April 2023. Shipment is expected in early February.

The spacecraft has been at Airbus in Toulouse since August 2021 for final assembly and test. This included the integration of the final instrument units and the largest solar arrays ever to fly on a planetary exploration mission, needed to power the mission at 740 million kilometres from the Sun.

“With JUICE's departure for the launch site fast approaching, we look back at its long Earthly journey through various Airbus sites in Europe towards final integration and involving close to 500 Airbus employees who prepared the spacecraft for its eight-year cruise,” said Cyril Cavel, JUICE Project Manager at Airbus Defence and Space.

“It has been an incredible adventure, along with more than 80 companies across Europe, to bring ESA’s vision to life and ultimately study Jupiter and its icy moons in fine detail.”

13 January, 2023

Virgin Galactic updates leadership structure

Virgin Galactic Holdings, an aerospace and space travel company, has announced its updated leadership structure to support commercial spaceline operations, which are on track for Q2 2023 as previously announced by the Company.

The organizational changes will support the Company's core near-term objectives of delivering increased flight frequency and executing on rapid fleet development plans.

As part of this leadership update, Swami Iyer, President, Aerospace Systems, will be departing from his position, effective January 12, 2023. He will continue to serve as an advisor to Michael Colglazier, CEO of the Company, until March 3, 2023 to ensure a smooth transition.

"With the completion of the enhancement program for our mothership at hand, our streamlined leadership structure will help propel the business forward as we prepare for commercial spaceline operations," said Colglazier. "Swami has been instrumental in establishing our future production strategy and in leading the work to prepare our initial ships for commercial flight, and we are incredibly grateful for his contribution. Our experienced leadership team brings deep expertise to the next exciting phase for the Company – flying our customers safely and regularly to space and expanding our future fleet."

The leadership team of industry veterans leading Virgin Galactic's spaceline operations includes:

Mike Moses, President, Spaceline Missions and Safety
Moses has led flight and mission operations at Virgin Galactic since 2011 following his seventeen-year career at NASA, where he led space shuttle launch operations until the shuttle retired from service in 2011.
Mike Moore, Executive Vice President, Spaceline Technical Operations
Moore joined Virgin Galactic in 2022 following a long and successful career as SVP, Technical Operations with Delta Airlines. His team at Virgin Galactic works to ensure vehicles are manufactured, maintained, and sustained to the highest standards of quality, reliability, and efficiency.
Steve Justice, Senior Vice President, Spaceline Programs and Engineering
Justice – a 39-year veteran of Lockheed Martin and a "legend" in its Skunk Works division – leads the design, engineering, and program management of Virgin Galactic's spaceflight system and future fleet development.
Planned upgrades of VMS Eve are complete, and the mothership is expected to enter ground tests next week before commencing flight tests to verify the enhancements to the ship. Commercial service remains on track to begin in Q2 2023.

Air101: Virgin Galactic rapidly growing with new spaceship manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona

12 January, 2023

Historic UK mission reaches space but falls short of orbit

The UK Civil Aviation Authority issued the licence, following consent from Transport Secretary Mark Harper, meaning he is in agreement with the licensing decisions made by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

The historic first attempt to launch satellites from British soil reached space late on Monday night, but ultimately fell short of reaching its target orbit.

After successfully taking off from the runway at Spaceport Cornwall – which just a few weeks ago was transformed from a mere slab of empty cement at a commercial airport to the world’s newest space launch operations center – and travelling to the designated drop zone, Cosmic Girl, the customized 747 that serves as the LauncherOne system’s carrier aircraft, successfully released the rocket.

The rocket then ignited its engines, quickly going hypersonic and successfully reaching space. The flight then continued through successful stage separation and ignition of the second stage. However, at some point during the firing of the rocket’s second-stage engine and with the rocket travelling at a speed of more than 11,000 miles per hour, the system experienced an anomaly, ending the mission prematurely.

Though the mission did not achieve its final orbit, by reaching space and achieving numerous significant first-time achievements, it represents an important step forward. The effort behind the flight brought together new partnerships and integrated collaboration from a wide range of partners, including the UK Space Agency, the Royal Air Force, the Civil Aviation Authority, the US Federal Aviation Administration, the National Reconnaissance Office, and more, and demonstrated that space launch is achievable from UK soil.

Out of five LauncherOne missions carrying payloads for private companies and governmental agencies, this is the first to fall short of delivering its payloads to their precise target orbit.

21 December, 2022

UK space regulator issues Virgin Orbit licences ahead of UK launch

  • UK Civil Aviation Authority issues launch and range licences to Virgin Orbit to undertake launch activities from the UK
  • public safety, the environment and international obligations were among the statutory tests Virgin Orbit had to satisfy to secure licences
  • licences issued in 15 months, putting the UK framework on a competitive footing with international space regulators and follows first spaceport licence issued to Spaceport Cornwall

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has issued the final remaining licences to Virgin Orbit ahead of a planned UK launch after requirements were met within 15 months.

The licences were issued following consent from Transport Secretary Mark Harper for Virgin Orbit’s launch and range licence, meaning he is in agreement with the licensing decisions made by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Virgin Orbit met the licensing requirements having demonstrated to the UK Civil Aviation Authority it has taken all reasonable steps to ensure safety risks arising from launch activities are as low as reasonably practicable. Virgin Orbit also met other appropriate security and environmental aspects required for launch.

Virgin Orbit also received its range control licence from the space regulator, which enables the company to issue warning notices to keep people out of hazardous areas and monitor the progress of the rocket.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority granted the licences within 15 months, well within the expected timescales for these types of licences, putting the UK’s regulatory framework on a competitive footing with other international space regulators.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper, said:

Today we are one step closer to opening the UK’s galactic gateway, with Virgin Orbit receiving a historic first licence to allow the UK’s first ever spaceflight launch.

The planned launch reinforces our position as a leading space nation as we look to the future of spaceflight, which can spur growth and innovation across the sector, as well as creating thousands of jobs and apprenticeships.

Dan Hart, Chief Executive of Virgin Orbit, said:

Receiving Virgin Orbit’s range and launch licences takes us one step closer to the first satellite launch take-off from UK soil. This is a major milestone for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and represents the successful completion of an enormous effort, which has included the construction of new regulations, new processes and new teams.

With our partners at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, Spaceport Cornwall, UK Space Agency and our payload customers, together we are progressing towards the first launch from Cornwall – keeping a strong focus on a safe and successful mission for all.

18 December, 2022

Rocket Lab Prepares to Launch First Mission from Wallops Island

Rocket Lab USA,  a leading launch and space systems company, is preparing to launch the Company’s first Electron mission from U.S. soil on December 18 between 6-8pm ET. The mission will take place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 2 at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility – a launch pad developed to support U.S. Electron missions for government and commercial customers.

The “Virginia Is For Launch Lovers” mission will deploy three satellites for radio frequency geospatial analytics provider HawkEye 360. The mission is the first of three Electron launches for HawkEye 360 in a contract that will see Rocket Lab deliver 15 satellites to low Earth orbit between late 2022 and 2024. These missions will grow HawkEye 360’s constellation of radio frequency monitoring satellites, enabling the company to better deliver precise geolocation of radio frequency emissions anywhere in the world.

While “Virginia Is For Launch Lovers” will be Electron’s first launch from the U.S., Rocket Lab has already conducted 32 Electron missions from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, delivering 152 satellites to orbit for customers including NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office, DARPA, the U.S. Space Force and a range of commercial constellation operators. Electron is already the most frequently launched small orbital rocket globally and now with the capacity of the pads at Launch Complex 1 and 2 combined, Rocket Lab has more than 130 Electron launch opportunities every year.

The launch window extends through December 19 to allow for weather or technical delays if required. Follow Rocket Lab on Twitter (@RocketLab) for real time mission updates.

Where to watch launch:

Launch fans eager to watch Electron take to Virginia skies for the first time can visit viewing locations including Robert Reed Park on Main Street or Beach Road spanning the area between Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. The Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Atlantic beaches also provide good viewing locations. The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will be open for this launch. A live launch webcast will also be available at from around T-40 minutes.

17 December, 2022

Airbus achieves key milestone on EGNOS European satellite-based navigation augmentation system

Airbus achieves key milestone on EGNOS European satellite-based navigation augmentation system

EGNOS V3 to support safety-critical aircraft, maritime and land applications

EGNOS V3 System CDR passed on schedule on 7 Dec 2022


Airbus has successfully achieved the System Critical Design Review (CDR) on the EGNOS V3 satellite-based augmentation system. The EGNOS V3 (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) is designed to add key security features for the most safety-critical applications such as aircraft navigation and landing, and will provide entirely new services for maritime and land users. EGNOS V3 is the second generation of the overlay system and will improve the performance of GPS and Galileo.

The new V3 generation of EGNOS being developed by Airbus will introduce new services based on multiple frequencies of multiple constellations (GPS, Galileo), and will embed sophisticated security protection against cyber-attacks. The System CDR covers the functional design, external interfaces, operations, security, integration verification, qualification and deployment.

François Gaullier, Head of Telecommunications & Navigation Systems at Airbus said: “EGNOS is a key service across Europe that many people have never heard of, but it is essential for so many applications from air traffic control to maritime operations, and Airbus is committed to further developing the service. Achieving this key milestone on target by the end of the year brings improvements in the performance of navigation satellite systems for safety-critical applications one step closer.”

Javier Benedicto, Director of Navigation at ESA comments: “The successful review confirms that the multi-constellation, multi-frequency EGNOS V3 will be a significant push forward in satellite augmentation. The coming EGNOS V3 will mark a significant step forward enlarging EGNOS accuracy, robustness and overall coverage, thanks to its use of multiple frequencies from both GPS and Galileo.”

13 December, 2022

Boeing’s Spectrolab to power Earth Surface Survey mission

More than 3,000 solar cells will power the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite, as the internationally led mission conducts the first global survey of water on the Earth’s surface

   As the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission begins its survey of the Earth’s surface this month, the satellite will get power from solar cells built by Spectrolab, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing.

The SWOT satellite, targeted to launch this month from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, will conduct the first global survey of water on the Earth’s surface, observe the fine details of the ocean's surface topography, and measure how water bodies change over time.

The spacecraft will be powered by a six-panel solar array, containing a total of 3,360 of Spectrolab’s NeXt Triple Junction (XTJ) solar cells. These advanced cells pull power from multiple wavelengths, allowing higher efficiencies not possible with commercially available silicon solar cell technology.

“Our Spectrolab team knows our efforts to power space programs improve life on Earth. Learning more about our changing planet is key to that mission,” said Tony Mueller, president of Spectrolab. “We’re excited Spectrolab solar cells will be powering the first spacecraft to survey nearly all water on the Earth’s surface.”

From a unique non-sun-synchronous orbit, SWOT’s instruments will measure the height of water in the planet’s lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans in higher definition than ever before. The data will help NASA and its partners at the Centre National D'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the Canadian Space Agency and U.K. Space Agency, inform water equity and water management decisions, provide new insights into Earth’s water and energy cycle, and help to prepare communities for rising seas and changing coastlines in a warming climate.

The SWOT mission will be managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which provided the science payload and its instruments. Spectrolab’s solar cell work was done for Thales Alenia Space, which was contracted by CNES to manufacture the satellite bus and conduct the final assembly, integration and test.

Spectrolab has produced more than 6.5 million gallium-arsenide solar cells for more than 1,000 spacecraft over the last 65 years in a shared vision with customers to connect and protect people globally, enable the exploration of other worlds, and build a space ecosystem for the future. 

29 November, 2022

Space Travel at a cost of air ticket travel is not too far away......

Space Travel at a cost of air ticket travel is not too far away: Pawan Kumar Chandana, Co-founder, Skyroot Aerospace--the Hyderabad start-up behind India's first privately designed and built rocket that was launched recently

Hyderabad is India’s Rocket City, says Pawan Chandana, at FLO session

Indian tourists travelling into space is not far away and will become reality in the next 10 years

Telugu states' contribution to Indian space technology is immense

Hyderabad is the rocket city. Most of the recently launched India’s first private rocket was entirely built in Hyderabad. The supply chain is very critical. Hyderabad is the best city in India for the supply chain for building rockets. It is also the best in the world said Pawan Kumar Chandana, Co-founder of Skyroot Aerospace--the Hyderabad start-up behind India's first privately designed and built rocket that was launched recently.

Talking to FICCI Ladies Organisation(FLO) Members at Hotel Radisson Blu in Banjara Hills on “THE METTLE AND THE MANTLE” Indian Business Growth Trajectories, he said only a few countries in the world have the capabilities of building satellites on their own. India is far ahead in space technology. And Hyderabad is becoming a hub.

The talk was organised by FLO Hyderabad. Welcoming the gatherings Shubhraa Maheshwari, Chairperson of FLO Hyderabad said ‘be a solution to the problem, nobody can stop being a unicorn’.

150 FLO members attended the session

Pawan Kumar Chandana participated and spoke along with two other startup co-founders—Alok Bansal Co-founder & Executive Vice Chairman, Policy Bazaar---a one-stop destination online for all types of insurance products and Pavan Guntupalli, Co-founder of Rapido--India's first and fastest-growing Bike taxi app with a whopping 25 Million+ app downloads.

28 November, 2022

Momentus Signs Contract with Australian Research Centre to Place Satellite in Orbit

Momentus Inc., a U.S. commercial space company that offers transportation and other in-space infrastructure services, has signed a contract with the CUAVA Training Centre at the University of Sydney to deploy the CUAVA-2 CubeSat in low-Earth orbit in October 2023.

CUAVA is the Australian Research Council Training Centre for CubeSats, Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles, and their Applications. CUAVA is a partnership centred at the University of Sydney that aims to fundamentally change the capabilities and applications of CubeSats to create major commercial value with wide applications.

“Momentus is proud to partner with CUAVA, a leading Australian research centre,” said Momentus Chief Executive Officer John Rood. “Innovation and pushing the boundaries of technology is what we love to do at Momentus. We look forward to supporting CUAVA’s mission to use leading-edge capabilities in space to improve life on Earth.”