Science

Rocket Report: Vega-C is a sight to behold; Will Europe push SpaceX aside?

in great shape , Europe’s Vega-C rocket took off from a spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on Wednesday.

European Space Agency

Welcome to version 5.03 of Rocket Reports! It was a big week for small launch news, a successful debut for Europe’s Vega-C rocket, a responsive launch by Rocket Lab’s Electron vehicle, and a big steady-fire test by ABL Space Systems’ RS1 rocket. Congratulations to everyone involved in those projects.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to leave an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information about the small, medium and heavy-lift rockets, as well as a quick look at the next three launches on the calendar.

Europe’s Vega-C rocket makes a successful debut, Europe’s new Vega-C rocket made its maiden flight on Wednesday, carrying an Italian physics satellite and six CubeSats, Space News reports. At the end of the two-hour launch window, the four-stage rocket was launched from Kourou, French Guiana. Technical issues halted the countdown twice. The successful mission means Europe can now begin using the Vega-C rocket for operational launches, starting in November with the Pleiades Neo 5 and 6 Earth-imaging satellites. Arianespace says it has already sold seven Vega-C launches.

big and blonde … The Vega C has more powerful rocket motors and a larger payload volume than the original Vega rocket, which is being retired after its first launch a decade ago. The upgraded rocket can carry about 2.3 metric tons to an altitude of 700 kilometres, compared to 1.5 metric tons for its predecessor. The Vega-C’s first stage is powered by a solid-fueled P120 engine that will also be used by Europe’s upcoming Ariane 6 launcher, which has two variants to replace Europe’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 and medium-lift Soyuz rockets. which was obtained from Russia. , Wednesday’s success gave the institutional European launch industry a much-needed victory. (Submitted by Ken the Bin)

ABL Space completes first stage test, The California-based company said this week that it has successfully completed static fire testing of the first stage of its RS1 rocket. “The operation verified our startup sequence and stage level engine performance,” said Harry O’Hanley in a statement emailed to Ars. “It was also a significant demonstration of our GS0 launch stool, which packs into a container and enables launch from a flat pad. A testament to the thorough preparation of our team, we completed testing on the first attempt. “

A fall launch for the RS1? … the company has now completed testing of both the first and second stages of the RS1 rocket. Next up for ABL is preparing to combine the two phases and perform final checkout on a fully stacked vehicle prior to the weight dress rehearsal test. After that, the hardware should be ready for launch. The company will not set a date until it has verified the hardware’s readiness, and will take at least six additional weeks to obtain regulatory approval and complete launch paperwork. (Submitted by Ken the Bin and ElPeaTea)

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A year has passed since Virgin Galactic’s last flight, More than 12 months have passed since Sir Richard Branson briefly departed from this world, only to return to Earth, landing on a hot, dusty runway in rural New Mexico. However, VSS Unity The spacecraft has yet to fly again, Ars reports, and may not do so until at least this winter. In one feature, the publication explores why the spacecraft hasn’t taken to the skies again and what it means for the future of Virgin Galactic as competitor Blue Origin ramps up its New Shepard flight cadence.

How many flights are needed for profitability? … Virgin Galactic is losing about $100 million per quarter, and since it won’t start flying again anytime soon, the losses will continue to mount. To reach profitability, given its ongoing expenses, it is likely that Virgin Galactic needs to fly at least 150 or 200 revenue flights per year, which include a mix of passenger and research payload missions. But this number could be even higher. Virgin Galactic’s chief executive, Michael Colglazier, said last week that the company is working to build a fleet of spacecraft and carrier aircraft to support 400 flights per year from its base at Spaceport America in New Mexico. This would require a huge leap in operational efficiency.

Rocket Lab launches first of two NRO missions, The company said it successfully launched the first of two amenable space missions from New Zealand to the US National Reconnaissance Office on Wednesday. This NROL-162 mission is the first of a pair of back-to-back flights undertaken by the NRO for a dedicated launch on Electron. NROL-199 is to be launched on July 22 from Pad B of Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1.

a step further Rocket Lab said, “No other small launch provider has designed a launch dedicated to a small national security payload in such a rapid turnaround, and we have our sights ready to deliver the next NRO mission to space in record time.” ” Chief Executive Peter Beck in a news release. If Rocket Lab succeeds in this flight, it would represent an impressive step forward for the company. When you look at the recent CAPSTONE launch to the Moon, Rocket Lab has had a great year. (Submitted by Ken the Bin)

A clue to the price of a New Shepard seat, Other than revealing the auction winner of a seat on the first New Shepard flight with Jeff Bezos—$28 million—Blue Origin has not revealed a per-seat price for New Shepard tourism spaceflights. Sources have said that starting seats in the first handful of missions cost well north of $1 million, but it was expected that the price would drop as the company flew more. Well, not now, apparently.

market sets the price … in April, Blue Origin Told That a crypto firm called Moon Dao had bought seats on a future New Shepard flight. based on Crypto Transfer Analysis, it appears that Moon Dao transferred $2.575 million to Blue Origin in early April and set aside a fee that is likely to cost a New Shepard seat $1.25 million in 2022. When you’re the only company flying, it probably makes financial sense to charge whatever the market will bear. This is especially true because I’ve heard that Bezos wants the New Shepard program to become self-sustaining soon.

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