Rocket Report: A Crypto-Funded Heavy Rocket;  Falcon 9 damaged during transport

Rocket Report: A Crypto-Funded Heavy Rocket; Falcon 9 damaged during transport

An Electron rocket launches the NROL-162 mission on July 13.
Enlarge / An Electron rocket launches the NROL-162 mission on July 13.

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Welcome to Rocket Report 5.04! Be sure to read to the end, because most of the news this week is about heavy rockets, or at least offers heavy rockets. Also, there will be no newsletter next week as I will be taking a vacation with the family. But after that, I’ll be back in the saddle for the rest of the summer and fall, which promises to be full of big-ticket rocket launches.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please sign up using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP versions of the site). Each report will contain information on small, medium and heavy rockets as well as a quick overview of the next three launches on the schedule.

Isar Aerospace will take off from French Guiana. The Germany-based launch startup announced on Thursday that it will conduct commercial and institutional launches from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana from 2024. In what appears to be a nice move, Isar has been selected by the space agency French company CNES for the launch opportunity at the Diamant launch complex near the equator. Isar is also developing a spaceport in Andøya, Norway, for its small Spectrum launch vehicle.

Compete with other small pitchers … “With the addition of Kourou, we will further expand our global critical infrastructure network and gain even more flexibility for our customers,” said Josef Fleischmann, COO and co-founder of Isar Aerospace. “Creating more launch and deployment capabilities is an essential part of capturing the global satellite launch market.” Isar will compete with companies such as Relativity Space, ABL Space Systems and Firefly for 1-ton class commercial payloads. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

Firefly prepares for its second Alpha launch. Firefly Aerospace is preparing for the second launch of its Alpha rocket in late August or early September, reports Space News. “Our goal is to be able to launch within the next 45 to 60 days,” Peter Schumacher, Firefly’s interim chief executive, told the publication. “It’s really pending, at this point, the availability of the range.” The rocket itself is ready to fly, he said, aside from conducting a wet dress rehearsal and static firing test, which he said would be completed within two weeks of launch.

Modeling rocket debris … The company is awaiting a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration, which in turn is dependent on approval of a new debris model for the rocket. The revised debris pattern came after the first Alpha rocket exploded in flight when the range activated its flight termination system. The rocket debris, made mostly of carbon composite materials, fell out of reach, including into nearby communities, although no damage was reported. (submitted by EllPeaTea and Ken the Bin)

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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 on the classified payload, reports Spaceflight Now. Named NROL-199, the mission was due to launch Friday from Rocket Lab’s spaceport in New Zealand and would have meant the company launched two electrons in nine days.

Where will NRO go? … Previously, Rocket Lab launched mission NROL-162 on July 13. As soon as software updates are implemented, NRO and Rocket Lab will provide a new release date for NROL-199. Payloads are classified, as with most NRO satellites. They will operate in low Earth orbit, but the target orbital altitude and inclination have not been released. (submitted by Ken the Bin)

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