Welcome to Rocket Report 5.04! Be sure and read to the end as most of the news this week is about heavy lift missiles, or at least it is suggested heavy rockets. Also, there will be no newsletter next week as I’m taking some family vacation. But after that, I’ll be back in the saddle for the rest of the summer and fall, which promises to be packed with big rocket launches.
As always, we welcome contributions from readers, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form won’t appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report includes information on small, medium, and heavy rockets, as well as a brief preview of the next three launches on the calendar.
Isar Aerospace takes off from French Guiana. The Germany-based startup startup announced on Thursday that it will conduct commercial and institutional launches from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana as early as 2024. In what appears to be a nice coup, Isar was chosen by the French space agency CNES for the opportunity to launch at the Diamond launch complex near the equator. Isar is also developing a spaceport in Andøya, Norway, for its small Spectrum launch vehicle.
Competes with other small launchers … “With Kourou, we will continue to expand our global network of critical infrastructure and gain even more flexibility for our customers,” said Josef Fleischmann, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Isar Aerospace. “Creating more launch and deployment capacity is a key building block to conquering the global satellite launch market.” Isar will compete with companies such as Relativity Space, ABL Space Systems and Firefly for commercial payloads in the 1-ton class. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
Firefly is working on the second alpha launch. Firefly Aerospace is preparing for the second launch of its Alpha rocket in late August or early September, Space News reports. “Our goal is to be able to launch in the next 45 to 60 days,” Peter Schumacher, Firefly’s interim CEO, told the publication. “At this point, range availability is really pending.” The missile itself is ready to fly, he said, barring a wet dress rehearsal and static fire test, which he would conduct within two weeks of launch.
Modeling the debris of a rocket … The company is waiting for a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration, which in turn is dependent on the approval of a new model of debris for the rocket. The revised debris model was created after the first Alpha missile exploded in flight when the range activated its flight termination system. Debris from the missile, composed mostly of carbon composites, fell out of range, including into nearby communities, although no damage was reported. (submitted by EllPeaTea and Ken the Bin)
Electron launch postponed due to payload issue. Rocket Lab’s next mission for the National Reconnaissance Office — the second of two consecutive launches for the US spy satellite agency — has been postponed to complete a software update for the classified payload, Spaceflight Now reports. Dubbed NROL-199, the mission was scheduled to lift off from Rocket Lab’s New Zealand spaceport on Friday and would have meant the company launched two electrons in a nine-day period.
Where will NGOs go? … Previously, on July 13, Rocket Lab launched the NROL-162 mission. Once the software updates are implemented, NRO and Rocket Lab will announce a new launch date for NROL-199. The payloads are classified as with most NRO satellites. They will operate in low Earth orbit, but the altitude and inclination of the target orbit have not yet been released. (submitted by Ken the Bin)
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